Breaking Down UCLA's Chances of Landing Its Top 5 National Signing Day Targets
With a little more than two weeks remaining until Feb. 5, Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins will solely spend the time trying to sign a quality 2014 class.
As it is currently constituted, UCLA has 15 commitments. Zach Whitley and Ron Robinson have already enrolled in school. Adarius Pickett and NaJee Toran also will enroll before spring practice begins.
The Miami Herald reported Miami offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche will transfer to UCLA. His arrival will presumably eat up another scholarship that otherwise could have been used for this cycle. With Bunche in the fold, there's potentially up to seven scholarships remaining.
The Bruins are actively recruiting a plethora of elite prospects. For the purpose of this piece, only five of those high-profile recruits will be mentioned.
Not only will I analyze the five recruits, but I will also give a percentage chance of how likely it will be for these blue-chip prospects to become Bruins.
Here's a look at the top five signing-day targets for the Bruins and the likelihood of those prospects choosing UCLA on signing day.
*All recruiting information and statistics come courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.
Budda Baker had a final three of UCLA, Oregon and Washington before committing to the Ducks in December.
The talented athlete out of Bellevue High School recently decided to drop Oregon, per Josh Liebeskind of The Seattle Times, and trim his list down to UCLA and Washington, per Lars Hanson of 247Sports.
Baker is a bulldog on the field. While not blessed with great height, he more than makes up for it with his athleticism and intelligence. He's also a hard-nosed, physical player with tremendous ball skills.
Baker's natural position is safety, but he's also equipped with the tools to be a standout receiver. This could be an angle UCLA uses in its recruiting pitch to Baker. Myles Jack was a tremendous two-way player for UCLA this past year. Baker could also possibly have the opportunity to play both ways in Westwood.
It might be tough to beat out the hometown Huskies in this battle. Baker lives less than half an hour away from the Washington campus. The allure of playing in front of family and friends could be too much for UCLA to overcome.
However, Baker is very close to his former high school teammate Jack. The two would train with each other frequently. Baker would help Jack with his pass coverage skills.
Baker visited Washington officially this past weekend. There's a chance Baker also visits UCLA before Feb. 5.
Chances of Baker signing with UCLA: 50 percent
*Update: Per Realdawg.com, Baker will visit UCLA with his family on Jan. 24.
Rashaan Evans is the most high-profile recruit UCLA is trying to sign in this cycle.
The Auburn, Ala., native is regarded as the top outside linebacker in the entire country. He's also a top-15 player nationally regardless of position.
Evans has narrowed his choices down to Alabama, Auburn and UCLA. He's visited Westwood and Tuscaloosa, and will take his final official visit to Auburn on Jan. 24.
Hometown Auburn admittedly will be tough to beat. However, UCLA is still in the thick of things. Mora and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich will be traveling to Alabama for an in-home visit, per Chad Simmons of Scout.com.
According to Matt Scalici of AL.com, Evans could take an unofficial visit to UCLA on Jan. 31. If this scenario does come to fruition, it would be a very interesting development.
There's no question Evans would have serious interest in becoming a Bruin—especially if he were to pay for his own way out to Los Angeles less than a week before signing day.
Chances of Evans signing with UCLA: 35 percent
*If Evans and his family take an unofficial visit to UCLA on Jan. 31, those odds go up considerably.
It's never an easy proposition to pull a recruit from inside of LSU's backyard. It's a relatively foregone conclusion Malachi Dupre will end up in Baton Rouge.
The Bruins are also in desperate need of a dynamic playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. Dupre can theoretically come in early and play with a potential Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback in Brett Hundley.
Dupre will take his last official visit (with Young and McGraw) on Jan. 31 to UCLA. I like UCLA's chances with Dupre more than most. With the Bruins receiving the final visit, anything can happen.
Chances of Dupre signing with UCLA: 30 percent
Michiah Quick is another receiver UCLA would love to land. He's equipped with great agility and top-end speed. He'd be a nightmare to defend against in the slot.
He's visited Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Oklahoma officially, and will trip to UCLA on Jan. 31, per BruinReportOnline.com. It appears as if Oklahoma has the current lead. Two of Quick's former teammates (L.J. Moore, Hatari Byrd) both play for the Sooners. Oklahoma has also had good success recruiting in the Fresno area of late.
The visit to Westwood will be big for the Bruins. Quick, like Dupre, has the ability to come in right away and impact the depth chart at wide receiver. The visit will go a long way in determining whether or not he'll be a Bruin.
Chances of Quick signing with UCLA: 40 percent
The talented middle 'backer will take official visits to Oklahoma State and LSU before finishing up with UCLA on Jan. 31. The John Curtis Christian trio of Young, McGraw and Dupre have been interested in UCLA for quite some time.
With Jordan Zumwalt graduating, an open spot at middle linebacker exists. Young could come in and battle the likes of Zach Whitley and Isaako Savaiinaea for the vacant position.
Should Young not get swayed by the hometown LSU Tigers, expect him to end up in Westwood.
Chances of Young signing with UCLA: 70 percent