With the recruiting dead period coming to a close, it's a good time to take a look at UCLA's current recruiting efforts. At this point, the majority of the class has taken shape. Of course, there will be some surprise movement on or before signing day, but we can generally see what the class will be at this point. And it's good.
The class the staff is putting together looks very impressive. UCLA currently has 20 commits. Scout has the class ranked 10th in the country at this point, while Rivals has it 12th. Both sites give UCLA an average star rating of 3.5, which is 10th best by both publications, although the two sites do differ on the specific rating of many of the recruits (Scout upgraded Poasi Moala to 4* after this was written, and Scout now gives UCLA an average star ranking of 3.55). Of course, nothing at this point is final, 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: Hayden Rettig.
Outlook: The staff locked on to Eddie Printz early and stopped recruiting the quarterback position, only to determine that Printz wasn't a good fit. In the meantime, the quarterback position dried up quickly, and the staff put themselves in the position to either flip one of the better local recruits, take a shot on an unheralded recruit, or not take a quarterback in this year's class.
With Troy Williams officially enrolled at UW, and Hayden Rettig looking solid to LSU, there really is not much available out west in terms of available quarterbacks. Unless the staff can pull a rabbit out of the hat, this class looks to be quarterback-less.
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: Terrell Newby; 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.
The staff is also recruiting 4* Terrell Newby and 4* Cornelius Elder. Newby had a monster season and is shooting up the recruiting charts. He has offers from UCLA, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, and Cal, with Nebraska apparently in the lead 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. There is a lot of talented wide receivers out west in this year's class, so it would be a good time to nab an elite receiver or two.
Commits: Eldridge Massington; Mossi Johnson; Darren Andrews.
Targets: Devon Allen; John Ross; Sebastian Larue; Demorea Stringfellow; Quincy Adeboyejo; Julius Wilson.
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 does intend to enroll early, which will help 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.
Allen is 4* receiver with track speed out of Arizona. He stands 6'1 190 lbs. and has offers from all over the country. Right now, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, and Florida St. are the leaders for him, but Florida St. and Oregon have yet to offer Allen in football.
Three committed players that UCLA are still pursuing are Demorea Stringfellow, Darrell Daniels, and John Ross who are all committed to Washington. Stringfellow and Daniels are both big, prototypical wide receiver listed at 6'3 215 lbs. and 6'3 210 lbs., respectively. John Ross is smaller at 5'9 175, but he's electric with the ball. He plays at Jordan HS in Long Beach, and has potential as a return man as well as CB.
UCLA is also looking at recently decommitted Sebastian LaRue who was previously committed to USC. Larue is more of a slot type at 5'11 175 lbs. He's also a very good cornerback and could easily end up on the defensive side of the ball.
UCLA is also looking at Quincy Adeboyejo, a recent Texas A&M decommit, and Julius Wilson, a local prospect out of Culver City. Adeboyejo is long and lean at 6'3 175 lbs., and Wilson has good size at 6'1 180 lbs. Wilson appears to be leaning towards either UCLA or San Diego St., while Adeboyejo has a list of suitors after his decommitment.
Status: Replacing Fauria at the Y will be a tough proposition; 6'8 athletic tight ends simply do not grow on trees. However, how Mazzone utilized Fauria may go a long ways towards gathering interest with the tight ends who are out there. With Ian Taubler, Darius Bell, John Young, and Jordan Barrett as the only viable Y receivers on the roster, the staff could easily take two in this class.
Commits: Thomas Duarte; Ammon Barker.
Targets: Siale Fakailoantonga; Darryl Richardson.
Status: Thomas Duarte is a Mater Dei product who recently committed to UCLA during his all-star game. Duarte stands an impressive 6'4 225 lbs. His is a much better receiver than blocker and really looks like a perfect Y receiver. He'll play early and has a good chance at contributing next year.
Barker is a less heralded 2* recruit out of Utah. He is listed as a WR, but at 6'4 210 lbs. he probably projects better as a Y in Mazzone's offense. He was one of the few recruits signed by Marques Tuiasasopo, and there are some whispers that he may be looking elsewhere.
Siale Fakailoantonga is similarly sized at 6'4 215 lbs, though a little less heralded than Duarte. There were some whispers earlier in the year that he was UCLA's to lose, but he has yet to make a commitment.
Darryl Richardson is a quarterback/athlete that most likely projects as a Y. Given his 6'5 230 lbs. frame, he has the potential to become a weapon at the Y position. He was one of Marques Tuiasosopo's recruits, and it's not clear whether he is still being recruited by UCLA.
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 have really exposed UCLA's offensive line. Getting Xavier Su'a Filo back was huge, but the line needs more depth and talent across the board.
Commits: OT Christian Morris; OT Kenny Lacy; OT Poasi Moala; OG Caleb Benenoch; OG Alex Redmond; OG John Lopez; OG/C Scott Quessenbery.
Targets: OT Riley Sorensen; OG Cameron Hunt.
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 made it clear that they are still looking. 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., and Oklahoma, but looks to be solid to UCLA at this point. He is 6'6 270 lbs. and projects as a very good OT.
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 has been performing at a very high level and has begun to draw more interest. 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.
That rounds up our end of season 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.