For the second summer in a row we had the pleasure to do a Q&A with Brandon Huffman, who in our opinion is one the premier college football scouts in the country, writing and tweeting (@BrandonHuffman) offering his thoughts as a recruiting analyst for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Huffman is a treasure for Scout.com but in our opinion he is also one of the reasons you should subscribe to BruinReportOnline.com. Also, besides being a fantastic recruiting analyst, Huffman is just a great guy, and even better husband/dad. Here is Part 1 of our 3 part Q&A with Brandon in which he offers some answers to some of our questions on the general state of UCLA football recruiting in July. Part 2 and 3 will follow in next few days. Please give a huge welcome to Brandon. - BN EDs.
BN: UCLA had a quiet NLI day in 2014 after reaching for some big time national recruits, understanding the West Coast class was down a bit. Do you think Mora's strategy will change notably for next year with the West Coast looking full of great talent?
BH: It doesn't seem to be. There still seems to be a big focus on the Southeast and the Midlands, with a lot of attention being paid to kids in Florida, Georgia and Texas again. Will it pay off? I've always been of the mindset that when you're recruiting at UCLA or USC, you don't need to go far and you can bring in an elite class that is capable of competing for conference and national championships . They are focusing a lot on the West Coast kids, especially early on so that they don't have to play catch-up come January, but again, there does seem to be a lot of attention being paid to out-of-region kids.
BN: Are you concerned that Mora seems to be slipping behind Steve Sarkisian at Southern Cal on the recruiting trail? If not, why?
BH: I don't think so. USC is always going to get theirs, but UCLA really seems to be getting theirs too. Lane Kiffin was such a bad fit for USC, that lifelong USC fans were now turning towards UCLA. But you saw that USC still has the heart of a lot of local kids and that was true on Signing Day when Sarkisian was in there. But I don't think you can say he's slipping behind him. It's too early for that. Also, think about what Mora was able to do in getting the best player to come from Washington in the past decade? He got him to spurn Sark (a couple of times, in fact), so there is a track record there. This year's contest, though, could go a long way.
BN: Besides keeping Josh Rosen in the fold throughout the recruiting cycle, who is the most important player for UCLA to sign in the Class of 2015?
BH: I think it's a tie between Keisean Lucier-South and Rasheem Green. Lucier-South, because of what it would mean nationally, with KLS being courted by every major national program. Green, because of what it would mean locally, a Serra kid who's the focus of USCs attention, and UCLA finally winning one of the key head-to-head battles.
BN: How do recruits talk about UCLA now versus 4 years ago?
BH: No more of "UCLA is trying to turn things around" like it was under Rick Neuheisel. Now it's "UCLA has built something special." The page is turning, if not being fully turned.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of our Q&A with Brandon
on Sunday tomorrow.