UCLA Football Recruiting Roundtable - Part 1

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

The moderators take a look at UCLA's 2014 class, hand out a letter grade, and name their favorite recruits on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

1. What is your overall impression of the class? If you were to give it a letter grade, what would it be?

tasser10: I think the class overall is a solid one. There are no head-scratchers in there, and needs and depth were addressed for the most part. The only need that was not addressed was an elite gamebreaker on offense, something that has eluded UCLA for a while (other than Brett Hundley). So for me, I am right in between a B+ and an A-, i.e. a max of 3.5 out of 4.0.

Ryan: I'm happy with this class. It's not spectacular and there were definitely some missteps, but almost every need was tended to and that's important. The Bruins needed a couple excellent linebackers and got them. They needed some DB help and got it. They needed a RB and QB and got them both. That said, they really needed a gamebreaking WR, maybe another RB and probably could have done a little better on the OL so it wasn't a perfect class. I'd call it a solid B, so a 3.0.

IE Angel: I think it is a very strong defensive class with players that could contribute early at all 3 levels of the defense. Offensively, it is disappointing to not get an impactful offensive weapon when UCLA was in contention to get at least one, probably multiple 5* level guys on offense with a better approach from the coaching staff. Still, lots of talent from around the country and the 10th highest rated class in the country by average star rating.

bruinclassof10: Solid, but not spectacular class. As tasser10 noted, most needs were addressed and the biggest misstep (Broussard sleeping on Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman) was handled with the hiring of Kennedy Polamalu. No prima donnas in this recruiting class.

UCLAluv: I really like this class. As tasser10 noted it really adds depth and talent. Yes, there are no gamebreakers that we know of, but who knows there might be one hidden in this group. I really like what I know of the character of these young men and think they will add to, rather than taking away from team chemistry. It is too bad we missed on some of the big fish, but I like that we are out there trying to catch them.

gbruin: I generally agree. The signees are all high quality and add good depth. I think if it weren't for the high profile misses on signing day, we'd probably be much more satisfied with this class. A couple of them would have made it an A. Otherwise, B+

Achilles: A- on defense, B on offense.

Bellerophon: This group is a solid B for me. It's good, but not great. The guys we brought in are all quality players and we grabbed some guys in positions where we needed help or needed to add depth. But you get the sense that we were in the running for a lot of elite guys and we just came up short. At the end of the day, we needed to get an impact, stud, elite offensive threat and we got a lot of good offensive players, but not one with the "wow" factor that you've seen schools like Southern Cal and Oregon reel in recently.

AHMB: Looking at the class from top to bottom, I think it is solid. The staff really addressed every position and added a lot of the depth, especially on defense. Like most of the posters, I do think we could have used an explosive weapon or two on offense, and that's really the only fault I see with the class. I'll give it a B+/B.

2. Who is your favorite offensive recruit?

tasser10: I like Nathan Starks. He runs with anger and determination, and I think (hope) that he is coming in with a chip on his shoulder given the downgrade he got due to "character" issues (which I can't really find anyway). My next favorite is Austin Roberts, whom I hope is closer to a JJ Stokes than a Poli-Dixon.

Ryan: I like Jordan Lasley. He and Austin Roberts are probably going to play as freshmen, considering how many receivers the Bruins like to use, but Lasley is a real burner. The Bruins need to do a better job stretching the field and hopefully Lasley and Eldridge Massington can help them do that. It's been a while since UCLA has had a receiver who is a real deep threat so Lasley has me excited.

IE Angel: Nathan Starks is probably the offensive recruit with the highest ceiling of any player, but I would go with offensive lineman transfer from the Miami Hurricanes Malcolm Bunche. Bunche is a player that can start at either guard or tackle this season and play at a high level. Have to go with the instant impact player. Also, huge fan of what I've seen of Austin Roberts. Big, strong WR who was arguably the best player in Indiana.

bruinclassof10: Nate Starks. Don't sleep on him. While Joe Mixon got all of the hype, I respected the way Starks handled his recruitment and look forward to seeing him and Craig Lee on the field next season.

UCLAluv: I really like Nate Starks and Austin Roberts. I do think they both have the ability to end up as game changers. Like classof10 said, I think Starks and Lee will be a great combo and I do love the size of Roberts.

gbruin: Nathan Starks. He was rated higher than Mixon until some school issues necessitated a transfer and his ranking dropped. He seems more than intent of making up for that, and I'm glad the Bruins will give him that opportunity. It's also a reverse exile thing.

Achilles: Sharp, the quarterback.

Bellerophon: Nathan Starks: we need a bigger RB who can run between the tackles. Since Coleman graduated, we really haven't had that kind of runner since Malcolm Jones didn't really pan out. I'm hoping Starks and Craig Lee can form a dangerous backfield tandem for us in the next few years.

AHMB: I really like Alex Van Dyke, the big WR from Sacramento. I think he can end up being a vertical threat in this offense with his combination of size and speed.

3. Who is your favorite defensive recruit?

tasser10: I'm gonna have to pick Adarius Pickett...just because of the name! But seriously, I like the ability and especially the attitude and love for UCLA. Reminds me a bit of how Rahim Moore was when he committed. I also like Kenny Young, he could be a huge get and Ulbrich really likes him, plus I have a soft spot for the out-of-staters.

Ryan: Zach Whitley is already in school and rumor is he's already blowing people away with how mature and strong he is. He's apparently as advanced as Myles Jack was when he showed up on campus and not that I'm expecting him to be like Jack as a freshman, that's awfully encouraging. Toss in that he flipped from Alabama and will have a chance to play from Day 1 with the Bruins needing a couple new linebackers and I can't wait to see him this fall.

IE Angel: I'm very high on Zach Whitley because any linebacker that Alabama was desperate to have enroll early is an unquestionably talented player. Like Ryan said, word is he matched Myles Jack's testing numbers for an incoming freshman, so the ceiling is really high. Also, Jaleel Wadood, Adarius Pickett and Ainuu Taua are all players I'd expect to see on the field this season.

bruinclassof10: Westwood Wadood. What's not to like about the kid? He's an immediate impact player, he's from a powerhouse (St. John Bosco) and he's very happy to be here. Throw them 4's up!

UCLAluv: I really like them all. I am really happy we got Pickett. It is a position we have some problems with recently, so it's great to get a quality corner. I also love Whitley and Young just because I love the boom the LBs bring and I think we'll be seeing a lot by them.

gbruin: Zach Whitely was an incredible pull to get him from Alabama and on campus as an early enrollee. I think he'll be great. As for signing day, I think Kenny Young was huge. He was another get from SEC land, and his signing really salvaged a rough NSD for us.

Achilles: Wadood, he seemed to work hard at recruiting other players.

Bellerophon: There's just way too many riches here to pick just one. But if I have to pick one, I'm going to go with Wadoooooooooooooooooooood! That's going to be fun to cheer at the Rose Bowl.

AHMB: Wadood. He explodes on tape and I think he's going to force his way onto the field early next year.

4. Which recruit do you think will make the most immediate impact of the offensive side of the ball?

tasser10: I'd have to say Austin Roberts, just because of the needs at the WR position. Starks could be great but there are guys ahead of him with ability and experience.

Ryan: I expect to see Lasley and Roberts right away because of the way UCLA uses their receivers, but I also think Nathan Starks will get a chance as a freshman. Jordon James is back, but he hasn't proven he can stay healthy and with a new running backs coach in Kennedy Polamalu, I don't think seniority will carry as much weight. Starks may not start, but he should work his way into the rotation.

IE Angel: Malcolm Bunche will likely end up starting somewhere on the line, so I think that answer is too easy. Out of the high school recruits, I would think either Alex Van Dyke, Jordan Lasley or Austin Roberts can battle their way into the rotation at WR. The opportunity for freshman to make an impact on this offense is lower than on the defensive side though, just because UCLA's offense returns 5 out of the top 6 receivers and almost all of the rushing yardage as well.

bruinclassof10: I'm going to go against the grain and say Alex Van Dyke. You can't teach 6'4 with mad hops. He may not be as polished as Malachi Dupre but I think we'll be pleasantly surprised.

UCLAluv: I am with others here, the receiving corps. I do not know which will break out but I do think they will all have an impact right away. I am also looking to see what Massington adds. We might end up with a really fine receiving group. Yeah!

gbruin: I agree with the gang that our WR recruits will be most likely to have an impact. With the way the ball gets spread around on offense, I expect they'll get to see some early and productive playing time, and with so much focus on Brett Hundley, those guys wll have the chance to make plays.

Achilles: This is begging the questions, but I think Bunche will be the biggest difference maker. Technically he's a transfer not a recruit, but he's going straight into the starting line-up, I think he'll be the left guard.

Bellerophon: Malcolm Bunche is going to probably one of the few offensive guys of this group to see significant time, mostly because he's experienced and he's going to slot right into the spot vacated by the departure of XSF to the NFL.

AHMB: I agree that our class of receivers will make an immediate impact, but given the way that we spread the ball around it's hard to imagine any one of them putting up big numbers. I'll also throw Wadood's name out here, because I think he'll get a shot to play on the offensive side of the ball as well.

5. Which recruit do you think will make the most immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball?

tasser10: With the depth on defense, I think playing time won't come so easy for freshmen on defense this year. That being said, I can see Wadood or Pickett being used quite a bit.

Ryan: I expect Whitley to factor into the middle linebacker opening left by Jordan Zumwalt and Ainuu Taua to be used at least as an interior pass rusher on third down so both are candidates to play big roles as freshmen. I also expect to see Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett make a special teams impact with at least one of them working into the secondary rotation.

IE Angel: One of the linebackers has a very good chance to step into one of the starting roles left by Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt. Zach Whitley and Kenny Young are the obvious choices there. Don't sleep on the chances of the defensive backs hopping into a role, even with the entire starting secondary returning, along with two key players returning from injury. Matt Dickerson on the defensive line certainly looks like a player that could be ready to go from Day 1, but coming back from an injury will be tough. Also, Ainuu Taua has a chance to get in the rotation at DT, with the departure of Seali'i Epenesa, Brandon Willis and Keenan Graham inside.

bruinclassof10: I'm going to say Kenny Young. He is a beast from the Southeast. Whitley, Wadood and Pickett should get plenty of chances to shine too.

UCLAluv: Young, Whitley, Wadood, and Pickett are great athletes and our coaches seem to know how to use great athletes. I am really looking forward to seeing them on the field.

gbruin: I think it will be Whitley. As an early enrollee, he'll get in all of spring camp so he'll be that much further ahead come fall. Add in his measurements which people are comparing to Myles Jack and he sounds like the type of player that the coaches will find playing time for.

Achilles: Whitely, because we need to replace Zumwalt.

Bellerophon: Either Zach Whitley or Kenny Young. We're going to need to find bodies to fill the massive holes left by Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt and I wouldn't be surprised to see at least one of the two of them lay claim to a regular spot in the two-deep.

AHMB: This one is tough because of the depth that we have on defense, but our staff has also shown willingness to rotate young players in frequently. I think Taua has a chance to carve out a role as a pass rushing DT, and of course, I think Wadood could make some plays next year.

***

Feel free to give us your answers, and be sure to check back in tomorrow for Part 2 of the roundtable discussion.

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