Football Recruiting Reset: Offense

Josh Wariboko

Emerging from a big recruiting week -- when UCLA conducted its series of camps -- the recruiting picture has changed a bit, with a commitment, some new offers and other developments...

As we've said in previous Recruiting Resets, UCLA football recruiting for 2015 is a bit different than it's been in Jim Mora's first three recruiting classes, because of a few factors. First, UCLA has limited scholarships for 2015, probably ultimately giving out 18-20, and the depth chart has some considerable young talent; combine that with a stronger interest in UCLA from recruits because of UCLA's success under Mora, and the staff is being far more selective – and specific. Not only are they pursuing fewer recruits, and a higher level of recruit, but they are targeting recruits more specifically for certain roles.

In the past under Mora, UCLA just needed talent. The theory was – get the most talented and plug them into a position later. Now, with UCLA having established some defined roles on both offense and defense, and its luxury of being able to be picky, it can target recruits for more specific needs. For instance, it's clear that UCLA is pursuing pass rushers, specifically five-technique types of rush defensive ends (think Cassius Marsh). It's also specifically targeting rush outside linebackers (of course, think Anthony Barr). On offense, it's looking for speed and elusiveness at wide receiver and in the slot.

Here's a more specific resetting of the recruiting table, given how UCLA's recruiting is different for 2015.

These lists aren't comprehensive, but are comprised of the prospects UCLA has offered that they have a legitimate chance to get, prospects UCLA is fairly close to offering, and those we feel have a good chance to garner a UCLA offer.

QUARTERBACK

Needs at Position: 1

Josh Rosen, 6-4, 205, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #13 Overall, #1 QB COMMITTED

UCLA secured a huge part of its recruiting class when Rosen verbally committed March 20th. As we've said previously: the success of UCLA's 2015 recruiting class is almost completely based on whether it gets an elite quarterback prospect, and it got one in Rosen. He'll more than likely be moved to the #1 quarterback spot in Scout.com's rankings, and deservedly so. Rosen has so many of the tools you need to be an elite college quarterback – size, athleticism, a strong arm, accuracy, touch, and intelligence. He also seems to be maturing in terms of leadership, too, which is a big factor. Rosen, too, has been recruiting for UCLA, and it's pretty clear that his commitment will impact a number of recruits, especially receivers who want to catch his spirals for a few years. To UCLA's vast credit, it did an excellent job of recruiting Rosen. The Bruins were trailing for him early on, but Jim Mora himself and quarterback coach Taylor Mazzone were very effective in recruiting Rosen. Then, once they surged ahead for him they got the commitment. It wasn't Kyle Allen Part II. And also to their credit, they weren't as linear in their quarterback recruiting; even though it looked like a pretty sure thing they'd get Rosen, the UCLA staff was recruiting other quarterbacks for 2015 just in case they missed on Rosen. It appears, too, that Rosen's commitment will be solid to UCLA, and there isn't much worry of a de-commitment. Rosen has been recruiting for UCLA, and the hope is that the prospect of playing with such a talented quarterback will compel others to jump in the boat.


RUNNING BACK

Needs at Position: 2-3

We changed the needs to "2-3" since it's now clear, with UCLA's second commitment at running back, it's still in the market for even another. It's obvious with new running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu that he wants to be well-stocked talent-wise at the position. It's also a matter that there are some very athletic prospects at the position that UCLA has a very good chance at getting -- the type of high-level athlete that, despite maybe limited scholarships and enough depth at the position, you just can't turn down if they all want to jump in the boat.

T.J. Simmons
Bolu Olorunfunmi, 5-11, 210, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North
Ranking: #44 RB COMMITTED

Olonrunfunmi is a solid running back pick-up, who fulfills the role that UCLA wants and Polamalu prefers – that of the bigger, NFL-prototype back. He doesn't have great top-end speed (running a 4.7 at the Nike Camp), but he had good quickness in the Nike Camp drills for his size, and when he gets it all moving forward he looks like a locomotive. He has repeated his solid to UCLA and actually has been one of UCLA's best recruiters in the class, even with other running backs.

T.J. Simmons, 6-0, 205, Lakeland (Fla.) Lakeland Christian
Ranking: #61 RB COMMITTED

Simmons really saw his stock soar this spring/summer. He was fairly under-the-radar, since he tore his ACL as a sophomore, but he was so impressive in camps and combines this year that he received big-time offers from around the country -- like from Florida, Ohio State and Notre Dame. He has a combination of assets that is unusual -- to be a legit 6-0 and 205, but run a 4.4 40. UCLA got on him hard this spring, and he had a natural affinity for the Bruins. When he visited for UCLA's camp week he was immediately sold and verbally committed. He's under-ranked as the #61 running back in the country and will undoubtedly move up.

Sotonye Jamabo, 6-3, 190, Plano (Tex.) Plano West
Ranking: #43 Overall, #2 RB OFFERED

UCLA started recruiting Jamabo pretty seriously in March and the interest is mutual. The #2 running back prospect in the country, Jamabo is big kid with a great body that could add quite a bit more bulk, and combines that with some considerable elusiveness. He's not ranked #2 in the country for nothing. UCLA Running Back Coach Kennedy Polamalu has a connection to Jamabo and he's having an impact on the elite prospect. Jamabo visited UCLA at the beginning of June and it clearly had a big impact on him. The feeling at this point is that the Bruins lead for him.

Ray-Ray McCloud, 5-10, 175, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Sickles
Ranking: #32 RB OFFERED

McCloud really came on this spring and summer, garnering a good deal of offers, including from UCLA. The Bruins were on him fairly early and have kept on him so there's mutual interest. There is a thought that he'll stay local, probably Florida, but he's visiting other programs this summer. He visited UCLA for camp week and actually participated in the camp, and probably was the best prospect there. He was explosive as a running back or slot receiver, which may be the position he ends up playing in college. After his visit, UCLA is in a very good place with McCloud, even though the rest of the nation now has learned he's an elite national prospect.

Other to Watch:

Malik Roberson, 5-6, 175, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #46 RB


WIDE RECEIVER

Needs at Position: 3

UCLA got a number of bigger-type receivers in the 2014 class and are really targeting the fast, elusive game-breaker types. In UCLA's offense it always needs a good amount of receivers, so even in a year when UCLA doesn't have many rides to give out, it's still very feasible that UCLA takes three receivers for 2015, especially if it means getting elite big-play guys.

L.J. Reed, 6-3, 205, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks
Ranking: #133 Overall, #14 WR OFFERED COMMITTED

Reed committed to the coaches at UCLA's spring game, after it was pretty well-known he was leaning heavilty toward committing. He was offered early, and isn't the fast, elusive receiver UCLA is targeting in 2015, but he's too good not to take. UCLA, actually, though, after spring practice where a few smaller receivers emerged, might not be limited to just one "big" receiver for the 2015 class. Reed, too, very well could end up a Y, since he's not only big, as in tall, but pretty thick. He's an exceptional athlete who might actually plug in to a number of spots on either side of the ball. He's high school teammates with incoming freshman receiver Alex Van Dyke, and UCLA's Angus McClure was mostly responsible for his commitment. We've heard there could be a question on whether he qualified academically for UCLA, but also heard it looks likely.

Cordell Broadus
Cordell Broadus, 6-3.5, 190, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #142 Overall, #16 WR OFFERED

Broadus is considered a top-five receiver in the west, and after seeing him this spring he solidified that status. He's gotten taller, a legit 6-3, and his body has muscled out some and is developing well. He's not lightning fast, but quick for his size, and has good length to go along with good pass-catching skills. After taking a few big receivers in 2014, UCLA is targeting quicker, elusive receivers, but Broadus might be too good to pass up if he wants to commit. And we're hearing UCLA is probably his leader at this point. In fact, you could say UCLA is doing "very well" with him. Broadus has said that he'll wait until Signing Day to announce, but he could do it before then.

Ryan Newsome, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Tex.)
Ranking: #189 Overall, #25 WR OFFERED

Newsome is the type of speed guy UCLA is targeting at receiver in 2015. He ran a 10.51 in track this spring, which is lightning fast. He has offers from some of the elite national programs and his recruitment is going big. Mora has been recruiting him personally and the word is that UCLA is doing well with Newsome, even though we're hearing Texas is really pulling out all the stops, and other big-named programs are pursuing him. Newsome visited UCLA with his family this month and the word is that the visit went very well, and the Bruins are definitely in the race. He recently named his top five of Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, and Notre Dame.

Equanimeous St. Brown, 6-5, 200, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Ranking: #82 Overall, #7 WR OFFERED

Since UCLA might be taking more than one big receiver, St. Brown is now definitely on the possibility list, especially since he's probably the best big receiver in the west. He looked great this spring, having filled out really well since last year and actually looking like he's improved his quickness, which is pretty good for a guy his size. UCLA offered him in April, which was a bit late compared to others like USC and Notre Dame, but we've heard UCLA was a childhood favorite and that has helped place the Bruins in his top few programs. He visited Notre Dame this summer, and we've heard that the Fighting Irish are a big contender, as is Stanford. He has said he could wait to decide, so that could really help the local schools, and especially UCLA if it has the type of season that's expected. UCLA, though, could be full-up at wide receiver by fall.

Christian Kirk, 5-11, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
Ranking: #35 Overall, #4 WR OFFERED

After watching Kirk at the SoCal Nike Camp, it's a bit uncertain exactly what position he'll play in college. But he's not one of those guys that you say that about since he's not really a fit at any position; with Kirk it's a matter that he could play a number of positions really well. UCLA previously had been near the top of his list, but we've heard that UCLA and Kirk are fading, while Texas A&M remains the leader, and others are moving up with him, like Ohio State and Auburn.

Ryan Newsome
Paul Lucas, 5-11, 185, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe
Ranking: #32 RB OFFERED

UCLA offered Lucas in late April, after recognizing that he has elite track-level speed. Lucas is primarily a running back in high school, but projects as an F back in college, a guy who can carry the ball but catch it out of the slot mostly. The Arizona schools are on Lucas, and Notre Dame and Nebraska have offered. We're hearing, however, that Lucas is a longshot to qualify for UCLA.

George Campbell, 6-4, 190, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake
Ranking: #25 Overall, #3 WR OFFERED

Campbell has size and speed, and that combo gets him the lofty ranking. UCLA is trying, and Campbell recently said that UCLA was on a narrowed list, but it's considered an extreme longshot.

Carlos Strickland, 6-4, 198, Dallas (Tex.) Skyline
Ranking: #103 Overall, #10 WR OFFERED

UCLA coaches went to see Strickland in May, and the word is that the Bruins have a legitimate chance, along with LSU, Alabama, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Strickland intended to visit UCLA this summer but we haven't heard if that will come to fruition.

Taeon Mason, 6-0, 170, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir
Ranking: #297 Overall, #35 WR OFFERED

Mason is committed to USC, but UCLA has been picking up its recruitment of him this spring. It's uncertain where he would project in college, being raw on both sides of the ball, but Mason has exceptional speed, and it's thought he'd plug in as a slot receiver the best. UCLA assistant coach Martin is from Pasadena Muir so he has some connections into Mason. We're hearing that Mason is still a bit open, and is considering UCLA, Notre Dame and others, and wants to take official visits.

Michael Chigbu, 6-2, 210, New Orleans (La.) Holy Cross,
Ranking: #29 WR OFFERED

UCLA offered Chigbu, being among the guys the program is targeting in Louisiana for 2015. Right now it's thought that Georgia, Texas A&M and Arizona State are the leaders. We've heard UCLA has a legitimate chance, but Chigbu has indicated he wants to make a summer decision, and it's unlikely, then, that it would be UCLA since he hasn't visited the UCLA campus, while having been to the other three leading programs.

Lavan Alston, 5-11, 175, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Ranking: #40 WR

Alston was looking like a prospect that steps up and earns a UCLA offer potentially, since he was having a standout spring. But then he was disappointing at the UCLA camp, struggling to catch the ball, not looking as explosive as he has in other events and generally pressing. At this point, we think UCLA would have to miss on some guys and he'd have to have a huge senior season for a UCLA offer to be tendered.


TIGHT END/Y

Needs at Position: 1

UCLA's Y position is a pretty dynamic one. If you remember the way Joseph Fauria was used in Mora's first season that's the ideal type of mismatch the Y can represent in UCLA's spread. It can accommodate more of the traditional tight end type, like Fauria, but also more of one in the H-back mold of a UCLA tight end a few years back, Ryan Moya. The bigger and more athletic the better the player will exploit the mismatches, like Fauria did. The position doesn't necessarily need a great deal of depth, and UCLA probably just needs to take one per year. With UCLA's offense, actually, the Y isn't exactly a position anymore but a role, and it's a role that is fulfilled by bigger, more physical receiver types.

Alize Jones, 6-4.5, 220, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #29 Overall, #2 TE COMMITTED

UCLA got a commitment from the #2 tight end in the country early on and it looks like the commitment is very solid. Jones is an elite athlete, who could probably be a five-star defensive end/linebacker if he chose to be. He's also fairly close with Rosen, which always helps – to have two five-star recruits bonding over being committed to UCLA. Since he's been committed for so long and he didn't participate in any spring/summer events (not feeling the need since he's committed), Jones has been somewhat overlooked in the last couple of months. But make no mistake -- Jones is an elite, difference-making athlete.


OFFENSIVE LINE

Needs at Position: 4-5

UCLA has many more offers out to offensive line prospects than those listed here – most of them being elite national prospects that might be more longshots. These are the guys we could envision being the pool from which UCLA will get its 4 for 2015, and even 5 if there is one more elite guy who wants to jump in the boat. With how some OLs on the current roster emerged in spring practice as clearly able to play tackle, UCLA Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm doesn't necessarily need tackles as much as he did just a couple of months ago.

Tevita Halalilo
Tevita Halalilo, 6-5, 325, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
Ranking: #170 Overall, #12 OG COMMITTED

Halalilo is considered one of the best OL prospects in the west for 2015. For how big he is, he's showed good mobility, and has a very good junior tape, where he looks aggressive. He's continued to get in better shape and his athleticism will clearly improve as he trims down further. UCLA offered him in March, and he was thought to be close to committing until he pulled the trigger in April.

Josh Wariboko, 6-3, 305, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady School )
Ranking: #158 Overall, #11 OG OFFERED

The one-time Oklahoma commit opened up his recruitment, and UCLA offered, along with many others. UCLA also offered his younger brother, a 2016 safety prospect, Max, and that has gone a long way for the Bruins. He visited UCLA, but it was during the B2G Camp and that restricted him from meeting with coaches. Regardless, we've heard UCLA is the leader for him, and that Oklahoma, at this point, is out of it.

Drew Richmond, 6-5, 320, Memphis (Tenn.) Memphis University School
Ranking: #154 Overall, #12 OT OFFERED

We've heard that UCLA is doing well with Richmond, after Klemm went to see him during spring at his high school. Interestingly, Richmond says he wants to announce a decision September 9th, and the only official visit he's certain of is to UCLA. He said he could still visit other schools in addition to the one he announces for, however. But it's a good sign, and the feeling is that the Bruins either currently lead or are right there for Richmond. We've heard Alabama might be the leader, if Richmond doesn't want to go far from home, but if he does, UCLA would be the favorite.

Andre James, 6-5, 275, Herriman (Utah)
Ranking: #166 Overall, #13 OT OFFERED

The #2 tackle prospect in the west, James has offers from all over the country. He visited UCLA when in town for the Nike Camp, and UCLA is doing well with him. There's no feeling that he's an early-commmitment type. Coach Adrian Klemm and Coach Taylor Mazzone are on James and making him a priority. He released his top six of UCLA, USC, Utah, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Ohio State, and the feeling is that UCLA could be among the top two or three on his list, along with Ohio State.

Dru Samia, 6-4, 275, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
Ranking: #24 OT OFFERED

Klemm had been on Samia for a while, and then the offensive line prospect blew up at the NorCal Nike Camp and many schools jumped on him. Klemm offered Samia right before he came to the UCLA Lineman Camp, and the word is that UCLA was a leader before and probably still the leader now after the offer and the visit.

Darrin Paulo, 6-6, 320, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant
Ranking: #75 OT OFFERED

Paulo is a guy with some connections to UCLA (current UCLA fullback Nate Iese is Paulo's cousin). UCLA had offered, and there was some question whether he was okay physically, having suffered two knee injuries. But the recent word is that he's good to go, and that UCLA is on him hard. Paulo isn't known well, since he hasn't done many events, but apparently UCLA and USC, who has offered, are his top two.

Drew Richmond
Connor Williams, 6-5, 275, Coppell (Tex.)
Ranking: #37 OG OFFERED

Klemm offered Williams on his trip to Texas in spring. Williams is athletic prospect who really emerged this spring when he grew from a tight end to an offensive line prospect. That has garnered over 30 offers, from some of the biggest programs in the country. Williams recently visited UCLA and reportedly it went very well. Williams' sister lives in Los Angeles, as a flight attendant, so it'd make it easy for Williams to make the trip. Texas, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia and Stanford are thought to be contenders, but the word is that Williams is probably a long ways off from a decision.

Conner Dyer, 6-5, 280, Mesquite (Tex.) Horn
Ranking: #249 Overall, #14 OT OFFERED

Dyer has a great deal of potential, with a good frame, capable of putting on more weight, and very good feet. UCLA has been trying, but with offers from the likes of LSU, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, the feeling is that it will be tough for UCLA.

Fred Ulu-Perry, 6-2.5, 305, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis, Ranking: #263 Overall, #2 C OFFERED

Ulu-Perry participated in UCLA's Lineman Camp and earned a UCLA offer. He's looked like a center prospect at the camp but, also, an interesting note: at UCLA's camp, the UCLA coaches presented the idea to Ulu-Perry that he play defensive tackle, that he was perhaps well-suited for it, and he wasn't unreceptive. While in Cali he also visited USC, which was his childhood favorite, but USC hasn't offered. It could be the case that the longer USC takes to offer, the better the situation for UCLA.

Cole Smith, 6-3, 260, Mission Viejo (Calif.) Ranking: #16 C OFFERED

Smith gained a UCLA offer after a very good performance at UCLA's Lineman Camp. He's definitely a center prospect, and showed good flexibility and bend at the camp. Klemm offered him after the first camp session. Smith is a life-long USC fan, with his father having coached there. He said he wants to keep an open mind about UCLA, but if USC offered the thought is that Smith would be a Trojan.

Semisi Uluave, 6-5, 320, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Ranking: #275 Overall, #17 OG OFFERED

Uluave emerged this spring once coaches got a look at him and he performed in various camps. UCLA had been on him previously, but it picked up its recruitment of him in the last couple of months.

Zach Robertson, 6-4, 315, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #26 OG OFFERED

UCLA offered Robertson early on and the word is that UCLA is his long-time favorite. He has looked a bit better in some recent events, but still has a ways to go to be of the same caliber as others on this list. Right now, we don't think Robertson has a commitable offer from UCLA, and it will be interesting to see how the recruitment goes this fall.

Kieffer Longson, 6-7, 300, Sam Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty Valley
Ranking: #285 Overall, #29 OT

Longson has a respectable offer sheet, which includes Ohio State, Florida State, Arizona State and others. He took an unofficial visit to UCLA, and the visit reportedly went very well. Interestingly, though, he came to UCLA's Lineman Camp last week and did not work out. We've heard that it's unlikely that UCLA will offer. Longson is LDS and will go on his Mission right out of high school, though, so in theory UCLA could offer with the expectation of Longson not playing for two or three years, but at this point it doesn't look likely.

Bar Milo, 6-6, 290, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Ranking: #265 Overall, #25 OT

Milo looks good physically, being a legit 6-6 and a well-put-together body that could easily put on good weight. He has pretty good athleticism, UCLA has yet to offer, but he does have offers from Utah, Miami, Colorado, Cal, Arizona State, and Boise State. We know Milo likes UCLA quite a bit, but it's starting to get to the point where Milo might be tired of waiting for UCLA to show attention.

Others to Watch:

Kevin Estes, 6-5, 260, San Marcos (Calif.)
Jack Dreyer, 6-8, 280, San Mateo (Calif.) Serra
Blake Brandel, 6-7, 250, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic

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