The depth at center just got deeper for the Bruins.
Exit Bruins outstanding 4 year starting center Jake Brendel. Enter graduate transfer center Jake Raulerson. Raulerson announced his commitment to the Bruins today via his twitter account.
I will be taking my talents to Westwood! Can't wait to start this new chapter in my life! #GoBruins pic.twitter.com/ikO3VnT9DZ— Jake from Statefarm (@JakeRaulerson55) January 25, 2016
Yes, get your Jake from State Farm references ready.
Raulerson had a final three of U.C.L.A., Michigan, and Stanford, which is pretty good company in both football and the classroom for the young man.
Raulerson will graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in Finance this May after just three years in Austin. He redshirted his first year in 2013, started 5 games in his redshirt freshman year in 2014, and was #2 behind a senior center this past year in his redshirt sophomore season, meaning he has two years of NCAA eligibility remaining. Raulerson's commitment shores up a thin spot in the middle of the Bruins' offensive line following the graduation of Brendel and the transfer of freshman Fred Ulu-Perry. Scott Quessenberry redshirted last season after undergoing two shoulder surgeries and is the only true center currently on the Bruins roster.
Raulerson took his official visit to Westwood this past weekend and he said both the football and academic prospects looked appealing. From David Woods at Bruin Report Online:
"It was a great visit," Raulerson said. "Had a lot of fun out there. I've never been to L.A. First time seeing a place like that before. Weather was great. They really showed me a great time. I got to talk to the coaches, and got to speak about all the different programs they have, as far as Master's degrees. I'm really glad I went up there. Coach Mora's a great person. We had a few really good talks. I really liked the coaching staff."
"I'm trying to get into the MBA program," Raulerson said. "If that doesn't go through, and that's the one I'm really focused on and trying my best to get into, but if that doesn't work out, I'm going to apply to the Applied Economics program."
Raulerson was a 4 star recruit and an Army All-American and the #3 center per 247 sports out of Celina High School just north of Dallas in 2013. Quessenberry was the #5 center per Rivals in that same recruiting class. Bruins OL coach Adrian Klemm tried to bring Raulerson to Westwood back then though he opted for his home state Longhorns. Better late than never, right?
But perhaps even more important than Klemm's influence on Raulerson's final decision was that of quarterback Josh Rosen. Chosen Rosen hosted Raulerson on his visit over the weekend and the two connected. More from Woods:
"I spent a lot of time with (Rosen)," Raulerson said. "He hosted me this weekend and he's a great kid, very mature. Guy knows how to play ball. The idea of playing with a guy like that is really exciting and the offense is going to be great next year with a guy like that at the helm."
Raulerson is a very welcome and needed addition to the Bruins 2016 class. Klemm's suspension earlier this year put the Bruins in a big hole hole with recruiting, especially on the offensive line, and the surprise losses of juniors Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch, combined with the celebrated-yet-dreaded graduation of Brendel, left several big holes to fill.
Though the video is a bit dated now, here are some of Jake's mid-senior season highlights. He starred on both sides of the trenches in high school, so jump to about the 2 minute mark to see his OL highlights.
The excellent folks at Burnt Orange Nation and SB Nation recruiting guru Wescott Eberts had a nice article on Raulerson's decision to transfer last month. Raulerson was pegged to be the Longhorns' starter in 2016, but he will likely be filling that role in Westwood now. Klemm needs to replace the loss of Redmond at guard, so Quessenberry will likely move from center to guard where he played very well in 2014. With that, I'd expect the Bruins starting OL in spring to start with Conor McDermott at left tackle, Kenny Lacy and Quessenberry at guards, Raulerson at center, and Kolton Miller at right tackle, which looks like a pretty good starting 5. Alternatively, Quessenberry and Raulerson can compete for the starting spot at center and Klemm can fill the empty guard spot as he sees fit.
Academics are obviously a key component of Raulerson's plans. Graduating in 3 years from a great academic school like UT is an impressive accomplishment, and he was an Big-12 All-Academic recipient for both 2014 and 2015. Sounds like the kind of kid who will fit in well at U.C.L.A. I've told you that the offensive linemen are among the smartest guys on the team, and we all know they are the ultimate key to wins on Saturdays. Say it with me, Bruins Nation...Line Wins Games!
BOOM! Welcome to Westwood, Jake!!