Bumped. What a debut on BN. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
Note: This is my first attempt at a larger fanpost, so bear with me (heh wordplay).
National Signing Day is over, and we now officially know which players will be joining the Bruins in 2014. There are a ton of reactions to how the day, and the recruiting class in general, went down, so I decided to put together a recap of sorts that gathers all the reactions and my own personal thoughts on how the day went. The notes are in no particular order.
- The class we signed is solid - Lost in all the hoopla surrounding the missed opportunities on Signing Day is the fact that we signed an incredibly solid class this cycle. We ended up with the 9th best recruiting class based on star rating according to Scout, with an average star rating of 3.56. The class is also filled with some great players, highlighted by standouts like Kenny Young, Zach Whitley, Nathan Starks, Jaleel Wadood, and others. It is not as flashy a class as it could have been, but there are some guys in the class that can contribute early and often, and a ton of quality depth has been added for the future.
- Inroads into SEC Country - During this recruiting cycle, we managed to take 2 recruits from SEC powerhouses: Zach Whitley was a former Alabama commit who flipped to us and enrolled early, and Kenny Young is a Louisiana native who spurned LSU to head out west. In addition, UCLA made great inroads into SEC territory just by being at the table for a ton of high-profile recruits. That level of recognition should pay off in later years.
- We got a quarterback somehow - Once again, UCLA was able to pick up a later quarterback commitment, this time flipping QB Aaron Sharp from Kansas State. Getting a quarterback into the program yearly is important for any program, and Sharp will provide depth at the position, though his athleticism may help him see the field at other positions.
- We retained our three biggest recruits - Our biggest recruits this year weren't high school seniors. They were Brett Hundley, Jim Mora, and Adrian Klemm. During this recruiting cycle, Hundley decided to return for his redshirt junior year, spurning a possible first-round selection in the NFL Draft. Mora turned down the jobs at Washington and Texas and got a raise for his assistants, and Adrian Klemm turned down big money at USC to stay with us. Keeping everything intact sets up UCLA as a national title contender in 2014.
- Silver lining: More scholies for 2015 - I'll add one more Good here because the next few sections are going to be pretty negative. Signing a smaller class this year is ok because we'll have more scholarships available going into the big 2015 West coast class. There are a large amount of top-level talent on the west coast, and we need every scholarship we can get to grab as many of these top prospects as we can.
- Broussard - I guess I'm going to single him out first (don't worry, others are coming) but his performance really hurt our last recruiting cycle, to the point where he was let go and replaced as soon as the regular season ended. Thanks to Broussard's "efforts" we missed out on elite RB prospects Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman (Freeman in particular hurts because he appeared to favor us for a long time), and local recruiting took a hit. In addition, how much of our running game woes this past year can be attributed to him and his evaluations of our current RB stable? Kennedy Polamalu is a much better recruiter and coach, and his late arrival somehow managed to get us in the door on a number of recruits, but his full impact won't be felt until next year.
- Offensive recruiting continues to struggle - Another recruiting cycle, another year without any gamebreaking talent. I still can't fault Mazzone's system as the reason top recruits don't want to come here, as it could very easily feature a top talent. The problem has been with recruiting efforts from all of the offensive coaches. Polamalu, being that he's only been on the job since December, gets a pass for this cycle. Coach Klemm normally would get a free pass here, but with only 2 long-term OLine prospects in this class, he'll have more pressure to bring in multiple guys next year to keep the cupboards full. For as improved as our WR play has been under him, Yarber has still not brought in an elite WR that could be a deep threat or make a play on a bad ball. I still have no idea what Taylor Mazzone does, but next year is make-or-break for him in regards to Rosen. As for Noel, I started out being ok with him not being as active in recruiting guys, but at some point he needs to become an offensive version of Mora, in that he's brought in to help close recruits. All in all, this whole side of the ball HAS to step up in 2015.
- Vacation Days - What we can infer from frontpagers here on BN that multiple coaches took weeks off of the recruiting trail during the summer. Either way, this is unacceptable, as we ended up losing ground on multiple recruits, and it had an adverse effect on our overall class. It was the coach's version of the old "Over The Wall" tradition, and it has to stop.
- 1 for 9 - This....hurts. UCLA had a hat on the table for 9 elite prospects going into signing day, and only one chose us. As a recap, here are all the guys we had a chance with, and where they ended up: Budda Baker (Washington), Solomon Thomas (Stanford), Kenny Young (UCLA),Malachi Dupre (LSU), Rashaan Evans (Alabama), Davon Godchaux (LSU), Adoree Jackson (USC), JuJu Smith (USC), Kalen Ballage (ASU). That list doesn't even include guys like Mixon and Quick. In the end, our close left something to be desired, and again I'd say check out BruinReportOnlne.com, as they have a great piece (behind firewall) of how close we were on some of these guys. But, as the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and we couldn't seal the deal.
- Southern Cal regains "momentum" - The stage was set for UCLA. A large amount of nationally relevant commits were set to announce, many of them considering UCLA, and ESPN had even sent a reporter to us instead of that other school. The result? UCLA only lands 1 recruit, and USC lands 3 elite in-state recruits on the final day, and changing the story to, once again, being about them. It goes to show, for as good as we've looked in these past two years compared to our rivals, that we still have a long way to go in changing the mindset of local recruits, who grew up watching a powerhouse USC team and a middling UCLA team. It's more important than ever that UCLA goes out and challenges for something at a national level (while also pasting USC along the way).
So, those are my thoughts. In the end, I'd give this recruiting class a B to B+, but there were a lot of missed opportunities that can't be overlooked.