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UCLA Football Recruiting Reset: The State of the 2019 Recruiting Class

On the eve of National Signing Day, let’s take a look at where UCLA’s recruiting class stands heading into tomorrow.

4-star offensive lineman Sean Rhyan is UCLA’s only blue chip recruit so far in the 2019 recruiting class.

If you’ve read Bruins Nation for a while, or heck if you just joined us and have been reading the comments in my article from yesterday about UCLA football’s planned #8CLAP8TH events, you know that I’m a believer in what’s been called the Blue-Chip Ratio.

In 2014, SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliott wrote:

Every BCS champion since recruiting rankings could be accurately tracked (2005, or four classes after Scout joined Rivals in rating players) has met a benchmark: it’s recruited more blue-chips (four- and five-star players) than lesser-rated players over its four previous signing classes.

And since those blue-chips are rare -- roughly 300 of them per year, with more than 10,000 scholarships to fill nationwide at the FBS level -- the teams that get blue-chips crush those who sign a lower-rated level of recruits.

Nothing has changed since Bud Elliott wrote those words five years ago. No team has won a national championship without recruiting more four-star and five-star players than non-blue chip players.

Some folks like to say, “I’ll wait to see how the recruits play on the field.” before passing judgement on a recruiting class. Well, in an article titled “Recruiting Matters: Be they ever so humble, the rankings (still) get it right”, Matt Hinton shows how better recruiting teams did against poor recruiting teams.

That brings us to the state of UCLA Bruins football recruiting under head coach Chip Kelly. Last year in a shortened recruiting cycle, Kelly tore down almost the entire UCLA recruiting class and built it back up in just over two months. For his efforts, the Bruins landed 10 blue chip recruits in a class of 29. That’s a Recruiting Class BCR of 34.48%. Considering what was accomplished, I think most Bruin fans considered that a success, even though it was UCLA’s ninth worst recruiting class since 2000. After all, most coaches usually get a pass on the first recruiting class after they are hired due to the short calendar.

The second recruiting class is where there are expectations placed on new coaches. After two recruiting classes, 50% of Jim Mora’s recruits were blue chip recruits and 47.72% of Rick Neuheisel’s recruits were blue chip recruits. By comparison, only 10.86% of Karl Dorrell’s recruits were blue chip recruits.

So, here we are approaching the end of Chip Kelly’s second recruiting class. The Recruiting Class BCR of UCLA’s 2019 recruiting class is an underwhelming 5.26% as I write this today. That would be UCLA’s worst recruiting class since 2004 under Karl Dorrell.

Do me a favor and go back and re-read that last sentence so that it can sink in.

If UCLA doesn’t land a few blue chip flips or surprises tomorrow, only 22.91% of Chip Kelly’s recruits will be blue chip recruits. When you then think about how many former blue chip recruits have opted to leave the program since Kelly’s arrival, it’s downright scary how little top talent will be on the roster for Spring Practice.

While UCLA should be in line to improve to six wins this season, the talent level on the roster would seem to indicate that another losing season is more likely than bowl-eligibility.

It is not unreasonable to expect that, after a three-win season in 2018, UCLA should be able to win six games this season. That’s my expectation for UCLA football in 2019. Six wins. It’s just a three-win improvement. It should be doable under a coach like Chip Kelly. But can it be done with the the level of talent Chip Kelly is bringing in? I’m very concerned that it may not.

2019 UCLA Football Recruiting Class (as of 2/5/19)

All of that said, let’s take a look at the 2019 UCLA football recruiting class.

2019 UCLA Football Recruiting Class

Recruit Name Position Current School Composite Rating Commitment Date
Recruit Name Position Current School Composite Rating Commitment Date
Sean Rhyan OT San Juan Hills HS (San Juan Capistrano, CA) 4-Star Signed
Michael Martinez TE Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, CA) 3-Star 6/19/2018
Shamar Martin CB Morse HS (San Diego, CA) 3-Star Signed
Charles Njoku WR Wayne Hills HS (Wayne, NJ) 3-Star 1/25/2019
William Nimmo S Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, CA) 3-Star Signed
Duke Clemens OG Punahou HS (Honolulu, HI) 3-Star Signed
John Ward LB Palmdale HS (Palmdale, CA) 3-Star Signed
Datona Jackson OLB College of the Desert (Palm Desert, CA) 3-Star Signed
Beau Taylor OG Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, NV) 3-Star Signed
Chase Griffin QB Hutto HS (Hutto, TX) 3-Star Signed
Siale Liku DT Oakland HS (Oakland, CA) 3-Star Signed
Jahmon McClendon RB Monte Vista HS (Spring Valley, CA) 3-Star Signed
Carl Jones DB Bakersfield HS (Bakersfield, CA) 3-Star Signed
Kain Medrano ATH East HS (Pueblo, CO) 3-Star Signed
Jaylen Erwin WR Hutchinson CC (Charlotte, NC) 3-Star Signed
Noah Keeter OLB Bucholz HS (Gainesville, FL) 3-Star 1/12/2019
Hayden Harris ATH Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, WA) 2-Star Signed
Josh Carlin OG Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, CA) 2-Star Signed
Keegan Jones RB Cleveland HS (Cleveland, TN) 2-Star Signed
Jack Landherr LS Chino Hills HS (Chino, CA) 2-Star** 10/11/2018
Nicolas Barr-Mira PK Loyola HS (Los Angeles, CA) 2-Star** 12/5/2018
** denotes 2019 key walk-ons. Composite Ratings are from For individuals who do not have a composite rating,’s site ranking is used.

So, UCLA had sixteen recruits sign during the Early Signing Period. While Michael Martinez committed on November 17, he opted not to sign during the Early Signing Period. Since the Early Signing Period ended, UCLA has added just two recruits in linebacker Noah Keeter and receiver Charles Njoku.

Positions of Need

It might actually be easier to list the positions where the Bruins have enough depth than UCLA’s positions of need. There are really only three positions where the Bruins have enough players. Those would be running backs, defensive backs and wide receivers.

Each of the remaining position groups could probably stand to add one more guy and the offensive line could possibly use two more. That would be quarterbacks, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line and linebackers.

As far as quarterbacks go, UCLA lost two QBs this season in Devon Modster and Wilton Speight, but have only added one in Chase Griffin. Tight ends have lost Caleb Wilson and Matt Alaimo who transferred back home to Rutgers, but this recruiting class only has Michael Martinez.

There are three offensive linemen already in the class but you can never have enough offensive linemen because line wins games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Bruins will be in on any of the top remaining linemen. The defensive line could also use some depth as well, but linebackers definitely need as much depth as possible. After all, it seemed like there were never enough inside linebackers last season.

Tomorrow morning, I will have a list of guys who could choose UCLA and what time they are expected to commit.

Go Bruins!