We'll take our final look at UCLA's recruiting efforts before signing day.
With signing day just around the corner, it's a good time to take a look at UCLA's current recruiting efforts. At this point, the majority of the class is put together. Of course, there may be some signing day surprises, and there are some major targets that UCLA is still working on, but it's pretty easy to get an idea of what the class is going to look like.
The class the staff is putting together looks very impressive. UCLA currently has 23 commits. Scout has the class ranked 6th in the country at this point, while Rivals have it 9th. Both sites give UCLA a high average star rating; Scout indicates that our average recruit is 3.7 stars while Rivals places it at 3.65 stars. Again, the staff is going to have to make sure that there aren't any 11th hour defections, but this year has the potential to exceed last year's phenomenal class.
Today, we'll take a closer look at UCLA's efforts on the offensive side of the ball. After an exciting and successful regular season, UCLA's staff has a good opportunity to make some serious noise in recruiting circles.
Status: Brett Hundley performed better than expected his freshman year. He'll have the position locked down for a while. However, the depth behind him is a bit of a concern. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut are graduating, leaving TJ Millweard, Jerry Neuheisel, Mike Fafaul, and potentially Devin Fuller behind Hundley. Fuller is now playing wide receiver, and while he has repeatedly said that he wants to play quarterback, he may be too gifted of an athlete to use as a backup quarterback. In a perfect world, I think the staff would sign a quarterback this year. It may not be a must sign, but it would be preferable.
Targets: Asiantii Woulard.
Outlook: The staff lucked into Asiantii Woulard, a 4* prospect out of Florida who had committed to South Florida early and decommitted once Skip Holtz was fired. Woulard is a dual threat type quarterback with good size at 6'4 200 lbs. He has only played quarterback for a couple of seasons, but he was voted the Elite 11 MVP. Woulard also broke his ankle during his last high school game, and it's unclear what kind of impact he could make early, but it's nice to know that there is a viable quarterback target on board.
Status: Jonathan Franklin is graduating, leaving Damien Thigpen, Jordon James, Steven Manfro, and Paul Perkins at the position. Thigpen was very good this season prior to his ACL injury, but he hasn't had the chance to be a feature back, is coming back from a serious injury, and will be a senior. James and Manfro both had their glimpses, but were a bit underwhelming, and Manfro is more of an F. Perkins supposedly looked very good in summer camp. Although the group is serviceable, I think the staff would take two pure running backs and an F if they can get high quality backs.
Commits: Craig Lee; Jalen Ortiz.
Targets: Cornelius Elder.
Outlook: UCLA has gained commitments for 4* Craig Lee and 3*/4* Jalen Ortiz. Lee has good size at 6'0 188 lbs, and is a pure running back. Ortiz is only 5'9 170 lbs, but he has elite speed and is very shifty. Ortiz projects as an F, but I list him here because I think he has potential to be a ball carrier as well. If you want to watch some fun highlights, check out Ortiz's senior year clips.
The staff is also recruiting 4* Cornelius Elder, but UCLA looks like a very long shot at this point. Elder is a small back that looks like a perfect replacement for Damien Thigpen. Elder is 5'10 165 lbs. with elite speed. He is from Tennessee, and has offers from his in-state Volunteers as well as Ole Miss, Ohio St., and UCLA. He has visited Westwood and came away very impressed, but it will take some work to sign him.
Status: After a few lackluster recruiting classes, Coach Mora & Co. signed Jordan Payton, Javon Williams, Randall Goforth, Kenny Walker, Fabian Moreau, Paul Perkins, and Ahmaad Harris last year. However, Williams transferred, Goforth and Moreau ended up in the secondary (although Moreau may end up back at WR), Fuller switched to receiver part way through the season, and Perkins is playing running back. That leaves Fuller, Payton, Walker, and Harris as last year's wide receiving class. Of course, the receiving corps returns incumbents Shaq Evans, Devin Lucien, but Mazzone's offense requires a lot of bodies at the receiver positions.
Commits: Eldridge Massington; Mossi Johnson; Darren Andrews.
Outlook: UCLA got a big prize in landing Eldridge Massington. Massington is a 4* receiver out of Texas that decommitted from USC and flipped to UCLA after looking at Alabama. He is a big, fast athlete, but is recovering from a summer knee injury. He has enrolled at UCLA early, which also helps with the scholarship count.
Andrews has good size to be a slot type receiver (5'10 160 lbs.). Andrews played his high school ball at Bishop Amat, and he has excellent speed. He is related to Eric Yarber, which undoubtedly helped in pulling the speedy wideout from Duke.
Johnson has good size (6'1 185 lbs.) and athleticism, and is listed as a S/WR. Reports that I've seen indicate he's a little better on the offensive side of the ball, and he should be expected to play WR as a Bruin. Unfortunately, Johnson injured his knee and will likely grey shirt this upcoming season while recovering from a torn ACL and MCL.
UCLA missed out on the other receivers that were being recruited, including Devon Allen, John Ross, Demorea Stringfellow, Darrell Daniels, Sebastian LaRue, and Quincy Adeboyejo. The staff is likely working on them all behind the scenes, but they are all committed elsewhere at this point.
Tight Ends/Y Receivers
Status: Replacing Fauria at the Y will be a tough proposition; 6'8 athletic tight ends simply do not grow on trees. However, Mazzone utilized Fauria well and UCLA should be a good destination for tight ends in the future. With Ian Taubler, Darius Bell, John Young, and Jordan Barrett as the Y receivers on the roster, the staff needs to sign an athletic receiving type tight end.
Commits: Thomas Duarte.
Status: Thomas Duarte is a Mater Dei product who committed to UCLA during his all-star game. Duarte stands an impressive 6'4 225 lbs., and he moves very well. He is a much better receiver than blocker and really looks like a perfect Y receiver in Mazzone's offense. He'll play early and has a good chance at contributing next year.
Ammon Barker, the less heralded 3* recruit out of Utah that previously committed, has parted ways with the program. He is now committed to Hawaii.
Status: While Rick Neuheisel left the offensive in exponentially better shape than the condition it was in when he arrived, the number of early season injuries really exposed UCLA's offensive line during the year. Getting Xavier Su'a Filo back was huge, but the line needs more depth and talent across the board. The line did start three freshmen and a sophomore, but there really wasn't much quality depth behind the starting unit.
Commits: OT Christian Morris; OT Kenny Lacy; OT Poasi Moala; OG Caleb Benenoch; OG Alex Redmond; OG John Lopez; OG/C Scott Quessenbery.
Targets: OG Deon Mix.
Outlook: Coach Klemm and UCLA has done a wonderful job securing a lot of highly rated offensive line recruits. All of the currently committed lineman are highly sought after players in the high 3* or 4* category. If Coach Klemm can keep the group currently committed to stick with UCLA through signing day, this could be one of the best offensive line classes in UCLA's history.
Christian Morris and Kenny Lacy are both highly touted out of state prospects, and both have been looking around somewhat lately. It may be hard to keep Morris from Tennessee with Butch Jones coming aboard. At 6'6 285 lbs., he has good size and could probably play immediately if necessary.
Lacy is the top OT prospect in Arizona and has drawn interest from Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio St., Arkansas and Oklahoma. He has repeatedly indicated that he is solid to UCLA, but he is also doing his due diligence and taking his visits. He is 6'6 270 lbs. and projects as a very good OT, but he likely will need to bulk up somewhat before playing.
Poasi Moala is a big guy at 6'5, but he's only 265 lbs. and will need to gain some weight before playing at the next level. He was previously committed to Washington, but flipped to the Bruins after his official visit. Although he appears firmly entrenched with the Bruins, he had a great senior season and his stock has risen. Our staff will have to fight to keep him.
At guard, UCLA has commits from Caleb Benenoch out of Texas, and Alex Redmond and John Lopez from California. All three have excellent size; Benenoch is a massive 6'6 317 lbs., Lopez is 6'5 305 lbs., and Redmond isn't far behind at 6'5 295 lbs. All three of these commits have an opportunity to play early at UCLA.
Scott Quessenberry is the sole center of the class. He is one of the top ranked centers in the country, but at 6'3 265 lbs., he clearly has to bulk up before playing at the next level.
Deon Mix is a big guard, 6'4 315 lbs., out of Mississippi that has shown some interest in UCLA. He was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he appears to be choosing between Auburn and Mississippi State, with UCLA being an outside longshot.
That rounds up our pre-signing day look at UCLA's recruiting efforts on the offensive side of the ball. Be sure to check back in tomorrow where we'll take a look at the defensive recruiting scene.