UCLA Football Recruiting Roundtable - Part 2

Eric Francis

In the second half our roundtable, we predict which members of the class will play next year and give our impressions of the class and recruiting effort.

6. Who are your candidates to play as true freshmen?

tasser10: Pickett, Wadood, Young, Miller, Roberts, Starks, possibly Whitley and Van Dyke.

Ryan: Lasley, Roberts, Starks, Whitley, Young, Dickerson, Tuioti-Mariner, Wadood, Pickett, Toran, Robinson.

IE Angel: I'd expect a much smaller number than last season, just because it is hard to match the #3 class in the country. But Jaleel Wadood, Adarius Pickett, Kenny Young, Zach Whitley, Ainuu Taua, one of the two DEs in Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson could get in the DL rotation, and maybe Ronald Robinson as a special teams guy. On offense, I'd expect less. Nathan Starks will get a chance but a redshirt wouldn't shock me, one of the 3 WRs will get in the rotation, Malcolm Buche for sure but the other two OL should redshirt.

bruinclassof10: Bunche, Lasley, Starks, Whitley, Pickett, Wadood, Toran, Tauaa, Van Dyke

UCLAluv: What Ryan said.

gbruin: I don't think it will be as widespread as last year when 18 of the true freshman saw playing time, but, otherwise, yes to all the above.

Achilles: Pass on this one, I'm not enough of a recruiting expert to guess.

Bellerophon: Whitley, Young, Wadood, Taua, Dickerson, Tuioti-Mariner. The rest I think are likely to be redshirt candidates.

AHMB: If I had to guess, I'd say everyone except Sharp, Toran, Miller, Griffin, Fisher, & Robinson.

7. Do you think the staff addressed the areas of need?

tasser10: in most respects yes. But as said before, they missed the big gamebreaker on offense, and for me that was more a need for a big-time WR than a RB.

Ryan: The only miss, in terms of need, was a great WR. Otherwise, I don't think there was a problem with need, and it looks like one of the three WR recruits have big-time upside so maybe one develops into the go-to guy UCLA needs.

IE Angel: My biggest need in this class was impact playmakers on offense and the staff totally whiffed in that capacity, unless Starks (once a top 50 overall recruit) pans out in a big way as a freshman despite a depth chart with Jordon James, Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro and Craig Lee already on it. The WR are all talented players, but not any talent that requires special game-planning by a defense like Michiah Quick and Malachi Dupre would have. It's still a skill position core full of complimentary players (a large number of talented complimentary players, but still mostly #2-3 options). Defensive depth was helped a great deal, so that is a big plus. And a transitional QB for depth in Aaron Sharp fell into UCLA's lap once again.

bruinclassof10: On paper, we did not land the big 5-star playmaker on offense but I think there are some real potential stars in this class that may have been overlooked for one reason or another. We landed a great RB in Starks and a few talented receivers too.

UCLAluv: I think we did. I think last year's class had so much quality and quantity that this year the demands were less. I am glad we had some days to step back after NSD because when you see all those potential recruits with all of those stars it is disappointing at first not to get more. We are trying to swim the big fish and I think we are moving in that direction. I think this year we get into the big kids pool and then the big fish will join us. (I know, I couldn't decide between big kids and big fish).

gbruin: Two things. As mentioned above, we don't have an obvious game changing burner on the outside that makes defenses scared on every play. Maybe one of our team, or one of these recruits, jumps enough to become that guy, but we haven't seen that as yet. The other thing I wanted to see was for us to bring in a new high profile place kicker to provide some competition and consistency at that position. The fact that I'm really picking a couple very niche spots shows how complete and deep this roster has become and the coaching staff should get a lot of credit for that.

Achilles: Everywhere but placekicker, I guess. Without Bunche, we would have needed more o-linemen.

Bellerophon: It would have been nice to have picked up a couple more big bodies along the OL since we've learned the hard way you can never have too much depth there, but overall, I'd say the coaching staff filled the holes we needed to fill, except for the "freakish athletic game-changer offensive weapon" hole that we haven't had anyone fill since probably Maurice Jones-Drew.

AHMB: Yes, for the most part. We have a lot of depth across the board, so it's hard to pinpoint "needs". I agree that we could use more offensive weapons, but more particularly, I think we should have signed a true slot receiver. We signed three receivers, but they are all bigger receiver types.

8. The staff swung and missed on a lot of national recruits. Do you like the emphasis on recruiting nationally?

tasser10: I like it as long as it is limited to elite recruits that really address our needs, and not a blanket national coverage to get some random guys.

Ryan: I think it's really important that UCLA be able to recruit nationally. There are years when California is down and the Bruins need to be able to get players from elsewhere and, generally, the west doesn't produce a ton of great defensive linemen so having inroads in Texas, the south and midwest is huge. That said, it can't be at the expense of California and, to the staff's credit, I don't think it was this year. They screwed up with some local guys, but I don't think it was because they were too focused elsewhere. UCLA missed on a lot of national recruits, but they got Whitley, Young and Roberts, while also laying the groundwork to do better nationally in future years.

IE Angel: The national recruiting is no issue at all with me, but the execution and follow through has to be there. If UCLA had been able to pull a 5* player out of the South, it would have been the biggest story of the day. But they didn't. They whiffed on all of those guys and let the elite local talent go elsewhere, mostly to Southern Cal. But, it goes without saying that the South is where a lot of the elite talent comes from, so not recruiting there would be unwise.

bruinclassof10: We tried hard with local kids like Adoree Jackson, Juju Smith and Damien Mama up until the last few weeks before Signing Day, but some kids just aren't cut out to be Bruins. It was worth taking a shot with elite talent like Evans, Dupre and Godchaux. We may not have landed many guys out of the SEC's backyard but they know we're coming and we're going to win battles in the future.

UCLAluv: I do like the national recruiting. I agree with others that it needs to be targetted and with guys that don't have their hearts elsewhere. But you never know. I think getting the 5 stars locally is a matter of time. Kids who want to be like Reggie Bush are not going to come to UCLA right now. And if they want to be all that Bush was, we probably are better off with them going elsewhere. So recruiting nationally can really help bridge the gap while local talent re-adjusts their view.

gbruin: I'm fine with it as long as it isn't overlooking the talent in the West and I think that was the case this year. There were some pretty plausible reasons we were a longshot with some of the playmakers on the west coast and there weren't that many of them in this class, so I understand the staff swinging for the fences with a few of the top names in the country. That said, next year's West coast class looks to be fantastic, so I hope the staff spends more time at home over the next year. Building strong and consistent inroads to the local programs is also more important for UCLA in the long run than pulling that occasional 5* from around the country.

Achilles: I think it's a miss, a false narrative. They didn't miss on a bunch of national recruits, they missed on a group of kids from Louisiana and one from Alabama. They have an in down there because Jim Mora's father coached the Saints and there were some other relationships down there. From my view, we held out for some five star kids who showed interest, it would be a mistake not to show interest back. I don't believe at all that by recruiting those guys we were neglecting local guys.

AHMB: We have to be able to recruit the talent wherever the talent is located. That said, our home base is and always has to be Los Angeles. I think gbruin is spot on when he talks about building relationships with local coaches and programs. Given the talent in Southern California in next year's class and our scholarship limitations, I think our staff should really focus on finding local talent for next year's class.

9. Taking the result of the class out of the equation, what do you think about the staff's approach to the recruiting cycle last year? What should they change next year?

tasser10: We have discussed this throughout the threads during NSD. Recruiting is a year-round process, it's a lot of work and it takes a lot of dedication. This staff has done a great job but I think they have now learned that they can't be johnny-come-latelys with the top recruits. I think one of our weakest links has been taken care of and next year should be huge, especially if the on-field results are as we expect. And really, a big key is to fight and win the battles for the top local recruits, which are the lifeblood of the program. There is no reason to lose more than half the battles for those guys, especially when #WOTT.

Ryan: The break that some members of the staff took last summer proved to be a killer with a few recruits so that can't happen again. Replacing Broussard with Polamalu already addresses some of the faults from this year's recruiting so that should be better next year, but there's still an open spot on the staff so we'll have to see who Mora hires. If they go hard all summer and make another good hire, I think the Bruins will have a great class next year, which is huge because it's going to be one of the best crops of talent California has had in maybe a decade. The biggest obstacle may be clearing out a few scholarships.

IE Angel: I think that every coach has to pull their weight. Coach Spanos did a solid job as a defensive coordinator, and put together some of the best defensive gameplans that I have seen from a UCLA defense in my time as a fan, but he did almost zero recruiting. And on a staff with limited resources, every coach needs to be able to pull in recruits. Not a huge fan of what Broussard did in his time either, but, on the field, he did a great job with Johnathan Franklin as a coach. The class in the West in 2015 is one of the best in the last decade, according to experts. So UCLA has to perform on the field and translate that into elite performance in the recruiting arena as well. Wrapping up the Josh Rosen recruitment would be a great place to start, better sooner than later.

bruinclassof10: Kennedy Polamalu should be an upgrade as a recruiter, over Steve Broussard. Next year's class is deep and talented, and with a strong 2014 season, we should be able to land a top-5 class.

UCLAluv: I think we are blessed to have a coaching staff that puts their hearts and souls into recruiting and are genuinely knowledgeable, talented, and sincere. Recruiting is a year long process and I have been told that our coaches did recruit year round (when they were allowed). I do really like that Polamalu was added. He is a great man and recruits and their families will love him. I look forward to even better things to come next year. The class has the potential to be really great and I think it will be easier to put more emphasis on the West and it looks like that is what is happening. I will pass when it comes to what to do differently. I know I didn't really answer the questions but with conflicting information coming out about recruiting this year I do not want to comment.

gbruin: Remember, this was really this staff's first whole season with college recruiting, so there is still a learning curve going on for many of them. We are lucky to have guys like Klemm and McClure and Meat to help carry the load while the NFL guys really get a feel for what big time college recruiting entails (airline reservations, anyone?). And I think we're already seeing some of those lessons pay off. Klemm's extension, Ulbrich's promotion, and the Polamalu hiring are prime examples of supporting good coaches who are great recruiters. Next year, we will probably have fewer scholarships available. Right now I think it's ~16 but will probably be around 20 come NSD, so the staff will able to focus more intently on some of the most important recruits. Also, staying in the West will let them better concentrate time and resources. Missing some of the big fish on NSD hurt, no doubt. I expect the staff to learn and build on that.

Achilles: Pass on this one.

AHMB: Obviously, none of us are privy to all that goes on with the staff's recruiting efforts, but it seemed to me that there was somewhat of a false sense of security given the staff's ability to close well in the past two classes. Recruiting never stops, and if one staff isn't giving a recruit attention, another staff will. One thing that really bothered me was Kyle Allen's recruitment. I don't mean the fact that we didn't sign him, because that happens. However, when he committed to Texas A&M our staff did not appear to have any backup plans. They had essentially ignored all other targets because they thought they were signing Allen. For comparison sake, Arizona St. was also recruiting Allen, but they quickly signed Manny Wilkins after Allen's commitment to the Aggies. Of course, the staff ultimately signed Sharp and it worked out just fine, but the process is worrisome considered the staff had a similar the year before, and seems to be going down the same path again this year.

10. What are your final thoughts?

tasser10: A solid class with great effort by some of our recruiters, but opportunities missed due to being too late to the game with some of the recruits. Also, the staff must be really careful to not be all-in with just one 2015 QB, that could be a disaster if there are no backup plans. In short: recruit all the time, stay local and keep your options open.

Ryan: I'm happy with the class, but it's tough not to ask "what if?" What if some of the staff hadn't taken some time off in the summer? What if Polamalu had been the running backs coach all year? What if they had landed Kyle Allen, or at least not gone all-in on him? Still, the staff addressed their needs and added a solid amount of talent. Now we turn to next year, which has to be a MONSTER class with the talent in-state.

IE Angel: Happy with the players that UCLA added, excited for Spring Ball and Fall Camp to get here. There are some players that UCLA whiffed on that I am still excited to watch develop at other schools (like Rashaan Evans at Alabama, who I am confident in saying will be a first round pick in a couple years, Solomon Thomas at Stanford and Malachi Dupre at LSU). Always remember that just because a kid doesn't pick up a blue hat, doesn't mean they're any less of a player or person. Also, a shout out the Bruins Nation in general, as this community absolutely embarrassed the other SB Nation Pac-12 blogs with activity on a disappointing Signing Day. Even when we struggle, we're still the best.

bruinclassof10: I have followed recruiting for a long time and I am glad we missed on some of the 5-star recruits that we did (cough) Joe Mixon is a me-first diva (cough). I'd rather have a good, collective team full of 3-stars and 4-stars and beat Southern Cal, then stockpile entitlted 5-star divas who think that they should be starting for the Seahawks from day 1. Also, for those panicking about Southern Cal's 5-star recruits. Keep Calm and Remember Myles Jack was a 4-star Recruit.

UCLAluv: I can't wait for football!

gbruin: If you really want to go down the rabbit hole in regards to recruiting, then I would highly recommend getting a subscription to either Bruin Sports Report (that's where I subscribe) or Bruin Report Online. After following BSR for much of the year, I must say there were really no surprises for me on NSD (not that it still wasn't kinda painful). But it's eye opening to see the twists and turns of recruiting, the way some kids and families game the process, the incredible pressures placed on many of these high school athletes, and the volume work that the staff has to do to compete with the staffs from other schools where football gets more support than UCLA (thanks, Dan). With that in mind, I'm really proud of the group of kids who committed to UCLA, and I'm optimistic about the future of UCLA Football. Next year should be a big year on the field and in the recruiting arena. Go Bruins!

Achilles: Based on the star system -- we did fine, one of the best classes in the nation based on average star ranking. I don't watch high school football, so I am only able to make comments based on others opinions. Most of the classes rated higher than us overall just had more players in their class. But 18 players was a good sized class for us because it will help next year when a smaller class was projected.

AHMB: As Achilles noted, the fact that we only signed 18 recruits this year may help us in the long run. The west is loaded next year, and had we signed a full class this year we could have ended up with only 10-12 scholarships to give out next year when that school across town has its cheating sanctions lifted.

***

Fire away with your responses. Go Bruins!

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