UCLA has been rapidly climbing the recruiting ranking charts in recent weeks since the arrival of Coach Jim Mora. As of right now UCLA sits at the number 10 spot in Scout.com rankings and at number 18 spot in Rivals.com. Considering how this class was shaping up during the last desperate and desolate weeks of the Rick Neuheisel, the turnaround is nothing short of remarkable.
I am sure there will be more up and down as we head towards national signing day. I think it is important recognizing a key factor in Mora's success in recruiting because it touches upon lot of the big picture discussions we have had around out athletic program here on BN. The easy explanation for Mora's early success is to point to his 25 years of experience in the NFL. However, for those who follow UCLA program at a deeper level, they know that the key to Mora's success has been his ability so far to execute on a smart, strategic plan he had before taking over the Bruin football program.
It became pretty apparent to us in Mora's early weeks that he was able to hit the ground running because he already had a plan to address his most glaring deficiency as a college football coach. From Steve Megargee at Rivals.com (emphasis added throughout):
The makeup of Mora's staff addresses his own lack of college experience. Although defensive coordinator Lou Spanos and strength coach Sal Alosi primarily have pro backgrounds, the majority of Mora's assistants come from other college programs.
Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who arrived from SMU, was the only assistant coach who didn't work at a major-conference school or Notre Dame to get selected by Rivals.com as one of the nation's top 25 recruiters last year. Running backs coach Steve Broussard is a former all-Pac-10 running back who most recently worked at Arizona State and Washington State.
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone held the same position at Arizona State last season. Mazzone's arrival helped persuade three-star quarterback recruit TJ Millweard to switch his verbal commitment from Arizona State to UCLA. Defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin coached Washington's secondary in 2011 and also has a reputation as a strong recruiter.
"The thing Mora's done that's really intelligent is that no recruits really know him, but he's surrounded himself with assistants from across the country that everybody knows," Adam Gorney, the West Coast recruiting analyst for Rivals.com said. "These are assistants they've already built relationships with. These kids have probably never met Mora before. If they have met him, it's their first time. But they've known these assistants for a year.''
This staff has done an impressive job of flipping recruits who had been committed elsewhere.
Impressive indeed. You need to read rest of the piece here.
Going back to Mora having a strategic plan, he alluded to this himself when he was asked about searching for a potential DC (following John Pagano's decision to remain with the Chargers as the Bolts' new DC):
"I'm still working on it," Mora said Thursday night. "I've had a Plan B, C and D. You don't come into one of these things without an alternate plan."
I think it is reasonable to assume that Mora has been taking the exact same approach while going after his recruiting targets (and communicating with the current commits) in recent days. The result has been apparent in last few days. Now what will get the Bruin Nation really rocking if Mora can translate his plan into on field success through teaching and coaching next season. He will also prove many of our skepticism about Mora during the hiring process moot.
Still there is also the obvious contrast in Mora's approach and the ones from Chianti Dan and unfortunately Ben Howland. Unlike Mora, Chianti had no freaking plan in place when the football program was tanking this past season. In Chianti's mind he still wanted to stick with Neuheisel even after Bruins got humiliated by Arizona on national TV and more unbelievably right after 0-50. The difference between the two approaches couldn't be more stark. It is just one reason while Mora is off to a solid start, Chianti will not get any pass from here for his joke hiring process and his total bungling of our major revenue programs during his failed tenure.
Mora's approach also stands out from Howland and his coaching staff that have been hopelessly flailing around the recruiting trail with no strategic plan in place for last 4 years. Without someone like Kerry Keating on his staff, Howland recruiting approach has been rudderless, resulting in a program that has not been able to bring in a legit point guard for last 4 years.
Anyway, let's get back to the happier topic of football recruiting. I will leave you with this tweet from uber recruiter OL coach Adrian Klemm: