It's a bit early to go into full-panic mode, but with the switch to Noel Mazzone's spread offense that typically lines WRs up across the field, one would think that targeting top WR recruits and going after those top-end WRs would be a major priority for the coaching staff in 2013. However, that doesn't seem to be the case.
So far, the Bruins only have one WR commitment for the Class of 2013, in unranked, two-star (per Scout.com) recruit Inoke Lotulelei, which is a recruit that has drawn some questionable glances. Sure, he fits the mold of the shifty slot style WR that Mazzone likes, in that he's 5'8" and 175 pounds, but there's one small problem: he intends on going on his Mormon mission prior to enrolling in school. In other words, this recruitment does nothing for next year's freshman class (assuming he sticks with UCLA). Our cross-town rivals, on the other hand, who run a more traditional pro-style offense, already have two four-star WR prospects locked down in Bishop Alemany's Steven Mitchell (#15-ranked, four-star WR by Scout) and Eldridge Massington (#26-ranked, four-star WR) out of Mesquite, Texas.
It's disconcerting to see the Trojans, despite their sanctions, are still able to chase after WRs hard and land commitments. It really begs the question of where Coach Yarber is and whether he is dropping the ball on leading UCLA's efforts to reel in some big-time WR recruits. Let's break down the hard facts after the jump.Coach Yarber came to Westwood with a lot of fanfare and was generally highly thought of, as both a positional coach and recruiter when Mora brought him in. And at first glance, one would think the list of WR recruits that came to UCLA after Mora's hiring as part of the Class of 2012 would allay any concerns. But, let's take a closer look at some of those key WR recruits from this past class:
- Kenny Walker, the three-star WR/RB recruit that we stole from Cal, was recruited by UCLA's Northern California recruiting specialist, Angus McClure, not Yarber, at least according to Rivals.
- Javon Williams, the 6'5" four-star WR that was one of Hundley's top HS targets, was recruited by both Yarber and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
- And of course, Jordan Payton, the hard-to-pin-down four-star WR who was a back-and-forth guy, was reeled in by Adrian Klemm and Yarber, at least according to Rivals. Fox Sports has a different take on it, giving credit for landing Jordan Payton to Coach Klemm, not Coach Yarber.
So, while UCLA has only the verbal commitment from a kid about to take two years off from football (and could re-open his recruitment to schools like Utah or BYU) who is an unranked two-star project type WR, U$C, in the face of crippling sanctions and incompetent coaching, have managed to land a pair of four-star pass-catchers. And so far, it doesn't sound like we're doing very well with two top-end receivers who we should be making priority recruits; four-star WR Sebastian LaRue from Santa Monica is being chased by every Pac-12 program and a lot of top programs (Michigan, Florida State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Boise State) and it seems like UCLA is nowhere close to leading the pack for a local kid. The recruiters? Per Rivals, it's Yarber and Demetrice Martin.
Likewise, four-star WR Demorea Stringfellow from Moreno Valley is gaining a lot of national attention, with offers from Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State all calling for his services. And while UCLA is in the mix, the word is that the Bruins will be long-shots at landing the talented 6'2" target. Like I said, it's too early to hit panic mode, but it's a bit concerning that it looks like Yarber can only land a prospect with the help of McClure, Mazzone, Klemm, or Martin.
All-in-all, it begs the question of whether Yarber is the real deal, or if he's Norm Chow II: a former NFL guy just riding it out on the wave of NFL golden parachute payments, waiting until something else comes along. For now, it's something to keep an eye on and we hope that Coach Mora, like he's doing with every position on the field, will use this season to evaluate every position off the field and if a coach isn't pulling his weight (recruiting, development, etc.), be prepared to move in a new direction.
Fire away with your thoughts in the comment thread.