Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
In Part III of the roundtable, we'll discuss our favorite unheralded recruit, whether or not the class addressed the areas of need, and discuss recruiting nationally.
7. Who is your favorite unheralded recruit?
AHMB: Jalen Ortiz is far and away my favorite. Ortiz doesn't bring much in terms of size at 5'9 170 lbs., but he runs a 10.8 100M and is electric with the ball. He's a perfect fit for Mazzone's offense as he's capable of carrying and catching the ball.
gbruin: Thomas Duarte. I don't think there is any way to replace a Joe Fauria, but Duarte looks like he will be a good fit in a spot that is critical to give more room to the receivers and backs and keep the defense honest at defending the spread.
bruinclassof10: Agree with gbruin here. TD's for TD all day, everyday. Duarte is quick, big, strong and fast.
Odysseus: Jayon Brown could develop nicely if he's dedicated.
Nestor: Mentioned Jayon Brown's name above. I think he could surprise a lot of folks. There is also Scott Quessenberry. Reading some of his musings on Twitter, he seems to be quirky - which is a perfect mindset for a Center.
8. Do you think the staff addressed the areas of need?
AHMB: Yes. The staff did an amazing job, particularly with the offensive line, linebacking corps, and secondary. The most important area of need was depth along the offensive line, and UCLA signed 7 offensive linemen (8 if you count Kenny Lacy who was a gray shirt).
gbruin: In the big picture, yes. By filling in the holes in the secondary and addressing depth in the OLine, this class really stocks the roster. When it was all said and done, it left the RB position as the shortest spot on the field, but if Craig Lee gets eligible, then that spot is in pretty good shape considering our returning players.
bruinclassof10: Yes, on all accounts. We're stacked at LB and OL. Signing Woulard was huge too and I'm not talking about UCLA basketball vs. Texas huge.
Odysseus: Without a doubt.
Nestor: Uh, Yes.
9. The staff took recruits from Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Hawaii. Do you like the emphasis on recruiting nationally?
AHMB: UCLA has some natural advantages in being in such a talent rich location as well as being in a desirable area to live in. I thought the staff did a good job emphasizing recruiting the Southern California area, as well as keying on national recruits in areas of need.
gbruin: If the staff had gone national at the expense of California, I would be more concerned. But they were very strong at home, which gives us the luxury of pursuing some of the top recruits across the country. This pays off by having other kids in those areas see U.C.L.A. as a potential destination, which gives us more options and a higher profile on a national scale. That's key to being a national player, both in recruiting and in competing on the field.
bruinclassof10: UCLA, as a university draws applicants from all over the world so I'm all for national recruiting. If we can find ballers in Alaska and the Virgin Islands, let's get ‘em, just as long as we're still recruiting the local talent first.
Odysseus: California, and southern California in particular will always be the most important recruiting grounds for UCLA and really, all Pac-12 programs. But it's important to expand the pool of candidates, especially given that UCLA doesn't take as many risks as some other schools. It's important, but we need to maintain the local pipelines first.
Nestor: I think our focus should first be making sure we are holding our own in UCLA's backyard. I like that this class has some key recruits from local programs such as Crenshaw and Long Beach Poly. Honoring Mossi Johnson's scholie despite his injury will go a long way in establishing a solid reputation in that program and other schools in the city. That said, love the fact coaches are recruiting from all across the country because it also shows how they are leveraging UCLA's brand and talking up our program at a national level. It hasn't happened much since the 80s and 90s, when we would get blue chip recruits from states such as Virginia and Texas.
10. What are your final thoughts?
AHMB: I think this class will form a solid foundation moving forward. With the newfound depth on the offensive line, the staff can target a few elite lineman and focus on skill players. Defensively, I think the class is incredible. Jeremy Castro will be incoming as a freshman as well, so the class is essentially 12 strong on the defensive of the ball, with 11 of those 12 being at least a 4* caliber recruit.
gbruin: Looking at recruiting in a vacuum, this is a great class and a great comment on the coaching staff at identifying weakness and addressing them with great recruits. But recruiting alone doesn't win games in the fall. While you have to have the talent, you also have to develop it and fit it in the right system and inspire it and get it to execute on Saturdays (and one Friday, too). You know I love the focus on the O Line. A dominant O Line makes all the skill guys look great. There is more work to do, but this is a very good start.
bruinclassof10: We have the talented playmakers...coach ‘em up coaches!
Odysseus: Can't wait to see them all on the field.
Nestor: Can't wait to read about first impressions about these kids when they report to camp in San Berdoo (LOL). Blogging about depth charts is going to be a lot of fun this off-season
That concludes the roundtable discussion. We'd really like to hear the community answers, so fire away!