UCLA Football: 4 Recruits Bruins Must Land on National Signing Day 2014
With national signing day less than a month away, recruiting has been heating up in a big way recently for Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins.
Mora and his staff have received five commitments in the past week alone. Linebacker Dwight Williams and running back Nathan Starks both pledged to the Bruins on the same day (Jan. 4). Linebacker Zach Whitley opted for UCLA over Alabama, the school he had been previously committed to for months.
Defensive ends Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson also committed. Dickerson had been committed to Notre Dame but chose to become a Bruin over a family matter.
All of the recent commitments (save for Williams) are 4-star prospects (according to Scout.com). Williams, Whitley and Starks all participated in the Army All-American Bowl.
This piece will include slides on four highly regarded and realistic targets for Mora and his staff to sign. These targets are not ranked in terms of overall importance, but rather listed based on positional need in regards to the roster.
The last slide will encapsulate other potential prospects with interest in UCLA.
Remember, everything in regards to recruiting is fluid. These are fickle 18-year-olds with the potential to change their respective minds on a daily basis. Each recruit is essentially being pulled in a number of different directions from a multitude of influences.
There are names on this list which could in theory drop UCLA without a moment's notice. Conversely, there are names not appearing here with the possibility of becoming Bruins.
Here's an in-depth look at UCLA recruiting in its current state.
Malachi Dupre (Wide Receiver)
Malachi Dupre is the big-play receiver missing from UCLA's current stable of pass-catchers.
The talented prospect out of Louisiana is one of the most athletic receivers in the country. Dupre's very good at contorting his body in the air when going up for the grab. His route-running ability is advanced for a high school player, and he's got tremendous jumping ability.
Although a bigger receiver at 6'3", Dupre's got great speed and is very fluid when running down the field. His overall game is very reminiscent to that of a faster Keenan Allen.
It most certainly will not be an easy proposition to pry Dupre away from the hometown LSU Tigers. However, Dupre is visiting UCLA officially on Jan. 31 (per Scout.com). He's tripping to Los Angeles with two of his high school teammates (Kenny Young, Mattrell McGraw).
Rashaan Evans (Linebacker)
Should Rashaan Evans come to UCLA, he could have an impact similar to that of Myles Jack from this past season.
The Auburn, Ala. native possesses ridiculous quickness and agility. Evans has a first step unmatched by any other prospect nationally in his class. He's dynamic as a pass-rusher and has the versatility to cover receivers and running backs in space. In college, Evans could theoretically play as a safety, outside linebacker or even as a defensive end.
Simply put, the Scout.com 5-star prospect is fantastically gifted.
Evans took an official visit to UCLA earlier in the year. Along with the Bruins, he's considering Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.
Anthony Barr's vacant spot off of the edge is available. Evans could come in right away and potentially start just as Jack did in 2013. Like Barr, Evans would likely be employed as a rusher off of the edge.
Michiah Quick (Wide Receiver)
It's no secret that UCLA needs an upgrade at the skill positions.
While generally a solid group, there's a lack of both speed and quickness. There's not that one receiver with the ability to take over a game.
Michiah Quick has the ability to be that type of playmaker for the Bruins.
At 6'0", 170, Quick's natural position is in the slot. He's capable of playing as an outside receiver on the perimeter, but his agility makes him an ideal fit positioned near the middle of the field. Much of Quick's production should come in space, as he gets isolated in one-on-one matchups.
He'd offer an immediate upgrade to UCLA's receiver corps. There's no one currently on the roster possessing the explosive characteristics of Quick.
The elusive receiver out of Fresno will likely visit UCLA before signing day. Two of Quick's former high school teammates (Hatari Byrd, L.J. Moore) play for Oklahoma. For that reason, the Sooners figure to provide stiff competition for his services.
Kenny Young (Linebacker)
The Scout.com 4-star linebacker hails from famed John Curtis Christian High School in River Ridge, La.
It isn't often when UCLA can go into SEC country and pull a very good prospect out to Westwood. In this case, the Bruins do have a shot with the talented 'backer.
Young is an ultra-aggressive player with tremendous instincts. He's adept at running to the football and making the requisite tackle with regularity. Young is especially good at coming up in the box and attacking ball-carriers.
The Scout.com 4-star prospect is slated to visit UCLA officially on Jan. 31, along with two of his high school teammates (Mattrell McGraw, Malachi Dupre).
It would be an absolute coup for UCLA to sign Young. He'd almost surely impact the two-deep at middle linebacker. Jordan Zumwalt has graduated, thus leaving an open starting spot in the middle.
Additionally, landing Young would show just how tremendous UCLA's recruiting staff truly is. Both Mora and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich would deserve tremendous amounts of credit if Young did indeed elect to enroll at UCLA.
UCLA is in on a litany of players spanning from all across the country.
The Bruins need depth at offensive tackle and are targeting three quality prospects in Kolton Miller, Nick Gates and Derrick Kelly. Miller and Gates will visit UCLA officially (per Scout.com), and Kelly recently received an offer.
UCLA does need depth at the quarterback position. Brett Hundley won't be around after the 2014 season, and there's little in the way of tangible bodies on the depth chart. The Bruins have been pursuing local prospect and Miami commitment Brad Kaaya for months.
Vanderbilt pledge K.J. Carta-Samuels could also end up being an option (per Greg Biggins of Scout.com), especially in the wake of James Franklin potentially leaving for Penn State.
Out-of-state prospects Davon Godchaux, Solomon Thomas and Mattrell McGraw all are prospects UCLA would love to land. Thomas visited UCLA officially this past December. The Louisiana prospects Godchaux and McGraw are slated to visit UCLA officially on Jan. 31 (per Scout.com).
The three elite California prospects rounding out the list include Juju Smith, Adoree Jackson and Joe Mixon.
Mixon spurned UCLA last-minute in favor of Oklahoma. As signing day gets closer, the thought of staying close to home could creep into Mixon's mind. UCLA is also in desperate need of talent at the running back position. The addition of Mixon would give UCLA its most talented running back prospect since perhaps Maurice Jones-Drew.
Smith and Jackson are the two local prospects, both hailing from the greater Los Angeles area. Jackson could be the next great two-way player at UCLA, impacting specifically on the offensive side of the ball and in the return game.
Smith has the ability to play as a safety, and also up in the box as an outside linebacker. Either would be tremendous gets for the Bruins.