Wow what a day. It's barely 10 pm PST and BN is approaching about 40,000 unique visits and over 120,000 page views. At one point this afternoon we had about 3,000 folks visiting the site in an hour span. Not sure if this one of our best days as we have had some massive traffic days in this community, but the energy and excitement has been amazing.
NSD wasn't much of a big deal in BN's early years because Karl Dorrell was competing against Fresno State and San Diego State of the world for recruits (whose pictures were not available on scout.com and rivals.com databases). After Rick Neuheisel took over NSD officially became a big deal as UCLA finally started reestablishing itself in the West Coast and at the national level.
Except for one so so year (class of 2011) NSD has been a lot of fun on BN. Even that year we got Brett Hundley and Devin Lucien and won a recruiting drama Torian White, who ended up signing with the good guys after for brief few hours committing to the school over there. Then last year, Jim Mora and his staff took UCLA's recruiting to another level with a strong finish down the stretch. That brings us to this year and anyway you look at it, it's the most impressive UCLA class since 1998, when Bob Toledo (in the middle of our 20 game winning streak) signed the number 2 class in the nation.
Coach Mora talked about the class in his presser earlier this evening (video above). We gave obligatory shout out to Chianti Dan, even though from what we have heard it has been Mora's initiatives and efforts that have gotten the Morgan Center officials to actually pay attention to the program this season. Anyway, let's get back to our class. From the official site:
The class is ranked No. 4 nationally by Scout.com, No. 9 by Rivals.com and No. 12 by ESPN. Each of these media outlets listed UCLA as having the top class among Pac-12 Conference schools.
"We are confident that we have recruited a class of young men that will represent UCLA well, both on and off the field," said Mora.
Sixteen of the high school recruits were listed among the Scout.com West 150 (LB Isaac Savaiinaea-7, DB Tahaan Goodman-10, LB Myles Jack-11, DB Johnny Johnson-13, DB Tyler Foreman-18, DL Kylie Fitts-25, OL Poasi Moala-31, DL Kenneth Clark-34, OL Kenny Lacy-40, TE Thomas Duarte-44, LB Cameron Judge-47, OL Alex Redmond-52, OL Scott Quessenberry-62, OL John Lopez-78, RB Jalen Ortiz-101, LB Jayon Brown-142).
Sixteen of the new Bruins earned at least a four-star ranking from Rivals.com --- four stars (OLCaleb Benenoch, DL Kenneth Clark, TE Thomas Duarte, DL Kylie Fitts, DB Tyler Foreman, DB Tahaan Goodman, LB Deon Hollins, LB Myles Jack, DB Johnny Johnson, OL Kenny Lacy, OL John Lopez, WREldridge Massington, OL Poasi Moala, OL Christian Morris, OL Alex Redmond, QB Asiantii Woulard).
Seventeen of the future Bruins received at least a four-star ranking from Scout.com --- four stars (Caleb Benenoch, Kenneth Clark, Thomas Duarte, Kylie Fitts, Tyler Foreman, Tahaan Goodman, Deon Hollins, Myles Jack, Johnny Johnson, Cameron Judge, Kenny Lacy, Eldridge Massington, Poasi Moala, Christian Morris, Alex Redmond, Isaac Savaiinaea, Asiantii Woulard).
We have blogged already about the big time gets in this class who are mentioned above. You can go through our recruiting hub if you want to read up on them. But, I think the signing of Asiantii Woulard is worth a special mentioned. I know some may be a little bummed about not getting Eddie Vanderdoes despite the best efforts of our staff. But, honestly I wasn't all that disappointed after getting a 4 star QB recruit like Asiantii who comes in with so much upside.
We have blogged numerous times here about how important it was for the staff to bring in at least one solid QB in this class. Now we have him. Asiantii is the perfect recruit, who can come in, learn under Brett Hundley (hopefully he will get to back him up for at least 2 years) and then be in position to compete for starting job against other solid recruits for the starting spot. I am really excited to see how his career develops in Westwood.
Speaking of Eddie Vanderdoes let's wish the kid well. It's not always we get a real shot at landing a blue chip DT. However, I always got the sense that his heart was somewhere else. His recruiting reminded me a little bit of recruiting of Mr. Nikki Caldwell Justin Fargas, the 5 star RB who ended up picking Michigan over UCLA (and Southern Cal) back in 1998. We ended up getting Deshaun Foster (who picked us over Texas), while Fargas ended up transferring back to Southern Cal in two years. Maybe Eddie will follow the path of Shaquelle Evans and Joe Fauria? Kidding Eddie. Good luck to him in South Bend.
There was also the news of Craig Lee not sending in his LOI as he is working to get his academics in order. It certainly appears that the Bruin coaches are not going to give up on him and stick with him just like they did with Jeremy Castro. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Lee works hard, gets it done and makes it home to Westwood. Mora talked about the RB situation in his presser today (video above). Transcript via Jack Wang:
On not having a running back (yet) in the 2013 class:
I'm very confident with the guys we have now. You'd have to be a heck of a running back to come in here as a freshman and replace Johnathan Franklin. sometimes people worry about not getting a running back in this class - yet. We're not done. Let's just make that clear. We're not done. (Note: Four-star tailback Craig Lee was supposed to commit but couldn't due to academics.) We still have some spaces available. There's probably not a freshman, an incoming freshman in the United States of America that could come in here and replace Johnathan Franklin this year. We think we've got a good group of young backs on this team that - as a committee - can step up and do some of the things that Johnathan did.
Well it also certainly helps that Malcolm Jones is coming back. I think Jones has all the physical toolset necessary to be a viable (and perhaps solid) running back. From what we have heard it's matter of desire and commitment to play football. Perhaps a year away from the program has reignited his passion for the game, and it's certainly a welcome sign that he'd rather walk on to our program than hang out in San Diego State (dramatic contrast from the hoops program where Ben has been losing recruit to San Diego State in recent years, lol).
As for other notes here is Coach Ulbrich talking about his new 5 LB recruits (don't forget Jeremy Castro is going to be in the roster too this season):
And Taylor Mazzone, who apparently had a big hand in recruiting Thomas Duarte and the clutch get - Asiantii Woulard:
Nicely done Coach Mazzone.
Lastly, for a little comedy let's share couple of tweets (that popped up in our comment threads) concerning the head coach from the school over there:
In an interesting theory, Lane Kiffin out-of-state recruits are more interested in the coach than the school when making choice #USC— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) February 7, 2013
LOL, apparently Southern Cal's own coaches are not buying what Kiffin is selling. And there was also this:
Lane Kiffin said Pat Haden is 0-3 on players he does a home visit with. I have to say that's a bit surprising to me.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) February 7, 2013
You stay strong Kiffin. Hang in there buddy.
It has been a four-star close for Jim Mora Jr. and the staff, and it continued to the wire. The run started in early December and carried through National Signing Day as UCLA added Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch to its offensive line in December and went on a run of skill-position players. Receivers Eldridge Massington and Thomas Duarte were next in the fold, followed by defensive backs Johnny Johnson, Tyler Foreman and Tahaan Goodman. The day before signing day, UCLA swooped in on for USC pledge Kylie Fitts and was locked in a battle to keep Priest Willis away from the Trojans. Mora landed his potential quarterback of the future by getting Asiantii Woulard to commit. The staff has made UCLA a real destination for kids in Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California. This program looks prepared to battle with the Trojans for more top-tier players.
As I said, a blockbuster day.