On the field, the UCLA Bruins are 8-2, with two very big regular season games remaining. On the recruiting trail, UCLA is off to a solid start, currently ranked twelfth in the Scout rankings with a 3.33 average star rating. Only the Southern Cal has a higher ranking in the Pac 12. The Bruins have 10 offensive commits, 7 defensive commits, and 1 special teams commit.
AHMB has been doing a great job resetting the rankings, and you should read the mid-season recruiting roundups. This article is a little more about the big picture.
In my opinion,my opinion, with the number of linebackers and offensive linemen in this recruiting class, the staff is really approaching recruiting the right way. (Currently the Bruins have verbals from 7 on the OL and 4 LBs, all of whom are listed by Scout as OLBs.) Additionally, the Bruins are rumored to be very much in the hunt for MLB prospect Isaac Savaiinaea. A couple of points on this.
First, in my opinion, the keys to success in the modern game are (1) find a quarterback; (2) protect the quarterback; (3) pressure the quarterback.
It looks like the Bruins have found a quarterback in Brett Hundley for as long as he chooses to stay at UCLA (unfortunately for Bruins fans, it looks more and more like we won't have him for four years). So far, the coaching staff is doing a good job with points 2 and 3. Remember, in the 3-4 scheme the Bruins play, the pressure comes mainly from the linebackers, particularly the outside linebackers. Another thing about our linebacker commits, often these players in high school can be pretty versatile at the next level. They might fill out more and develop into true 3-4 linebackers, or even defensive ends. Or they might be smaller players who are turned into safeties or hybrid linebacker safeties that we often use in the nickel and dime packages, especially against a lot of the spread teams we face.
After accomplishing the main three tasks, then you recruit to get weapons for your quarterback and cover/tackle the opponent's weapons.
Now, even though we have Hundley, T.J. Millweard, Jerry Neuheisel, and Devin Fuller for next year, I think we really need a QB int his class. Fuller has had success at wide receiver and it always seemed that he projected better at that position than QB. If Fuller stays at WR, only Millweard and Neuheisel will be backing up Hundley next year. If we have any injuries we could be in real trouble. And that's before we start worrying about transfers, ineligible players, or Hundley leaving early for the NFL following his RS sophomore or junior seasons.
And we'll also need more defensive back depth, defensive line depth, and receivers. But the coaches have done a pretty good job putting a class together, if it holds together and especially if we get Savaiinaea.
One major caveat, recruiting will really start to pick up over the next two and half months. Some teams, like Oregon, typically start slow in recruiting and pick up at the end. Saturday's game is very important for recruiting. Mora has done a pretty good job so far, but if he wants long term results on the recruiting trail, he needs to beat Southern Cal, and there's no better time to start than now, on our home field. We're not the only noticing. ESPN Recruiting Nation's Mitch Sherman writes:
The Bruins beat nationally ranked Nebraska and 10 weeks later sit 8-2 and No. 17 in the BCS standings -- one spot ahead of 7-3 USC, by the way -- as the Pac-12 rivals meet at 3:05 p.m. ET Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
On that warm September night in Pasadena, to the surprise of Knox, his players got excited about UCLA. They cheered from their seats in the south end zone. Maybe it was the frenetic pace of the 36-30 win or that Franklin danced his way to 217 yards.
The veteran high school coach suspects something else: That passion for the Bruins, he said, lives inside the kids of Los Angeles. It just had no reason to emerge lately.
"Whether they knew it or not, they've been wanting for UCLA to be the top dogs," Knox said. "They want to show that pride."
The sentiment appears common from San Diego to Santa Barbara and across the San Gabriel Valley.
Saturday presents the Bruins' first of three chances to surpass eight wins for just the third time in 15 seasons. This year marks just the sixth winning season since 1999.
The results in his first fall look promising. But to sustain success, according to UCLA recruiting coordinator Angus McClure, the Bruins must tap into that pride among the young, local football players.
The strategy is in place. McClure, a six-year veteran of the UCLA staff, helped design a recruiting approach that leaves no stone unturned in the Bruins' home region. Six of nine assistant coaches recruit primarily in southern California, and the others help when needed.
"That's what coach Mora wants," McClure said. "He wants to start at home and spread out around the West."
This can't wait until next year. Win or fail.