UCLA Football: 6 Recruits Who Will Have Bruins Fans Buzzing
This upcoming fall, the talent of UCLA's football program will be enhanced greatly.
Coming off a 6-8 season, did anyone truly expect UCLA to get a top 15 recruiting class nationally?
Due to the diligent work of new head coach Jim Mora and his staff, an infusion of wonderful talent is scheduled to hit Westwood by storm.
Let's take a look at six future Bruins who could make an impact sooner rather than later...
DB Ishmael Adams
"The Praying Mantis" is an absolute stud in the backfield.
Ishmael Adams might not be the biggest nor the most physically gifted, but he more than makes up for it with his intelligence and savvy out on the field.
Adams is very versatile, having the ability to play both cornerback and safety. He packs a punch with his hitting ability and also has great ball skills.
One aspect making Adams highly regarded is how polished he is as a player. That stems mostly from his high school coaching—as he came from California powerhouse Oaks Christian High School.
Not only will Adams vie for early play time, but he could very well start out at safety.
OLB/DE Jeremy Castro
The signing of Jeremy Castro signifies the absolute recruiting prowess of Mora.
Castro was committed to Pac-12 Champion Oregon before flipping to UCLA shortly before signing day.
Having the ability to flip a player of Castro's magnitude—and from a conference power, is truly a feather in the cap of UCLA's new coach.
As a player, Castro is extremely impressive. With UCLA's transition to a 3-4 defense, versatile pass-rushers were a huge target of the 2012 recruiting class.
Castro fits that description perfectly. The jumbo athlete has great quickness to complement his impressive size. As a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, he'll compete for play time the day he sets foot on campus.
Castro's main responsibility? Getting after the opposing quarterback and creating havoc.
When you watch Castro play, he's eerily similar to All-Pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
QB Devin Fuller
When you picture an electric football player, Devin Fuller should come to mind. The highly regarded prospect just oozes excitement via his play.
Poaching the dynamic quarterback from New Jersey was quite a coup for Mora and his staff.
Not only does he bring athleticism to a roster lacking it big time, but he also comes in as a sorely needed playmaker.
At 6'0" 185, he isn't the biggest quarterback in the world. However, he's incredibly elusive in the pocket and can make plays with his feet.
There's no doubt that he could turn out to be a slot receiver one day, but he'll start out playing quarterback for Mora and the Bruins.
In the interim, Fuller could be utilized in Wildcat formations, as well as in gadget/trick plays. With his ability, new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone needs to figure out ways to get the ball in his hands.
DT Ellis McCarthy
Ellis McCarthy is far and away the crown jewel in the Bruins' 2012 recruiting class.
The 5-star defensive tackle was one of the top 2012 recruits in the nation—regardless of position. UCLA beat out teams such as USC, Florida, Oregon and Cal for his services.
The signing of the Monrovia, Calif., native was massive for Mora and his staff. They were able to win the commitment from one of the highest rated prospects in all of southern California.
In addition, they brought in a player at a position that UCLA hasn't traditionally recruited well at.
As for McCarthy's game play, he's an absolute animal.
At 6'5", 315 pounds, he's already NFL-sized. Despite his immense figure, he's very mobile. With UCLA's new 3-4 alignment, he's easily able to play an end position in addition to the nose tackle spot.
With his scary combination of power and agility, McCarthy will be in the rotation from day one. Not to put too much pressure on the young man, but he's garnered comparisons to Ndamukong Suh.
WR Jordan Payton
There's no secret that the roster is void of playmakers.
Enter Jordan Payton to the mix.
The Oaks Christian product had a peculiar recruiting process before finally settling on the Bruins.
The highly coveted wide out committed to USC early in his junior year—only to decommit from the Trojans in favor of Cal. The day before signing day, he switched to Washington. At a signing day ceremony at his high school, he flipped again—ultimately signing with UCLA.
At 6'2", 205 pounds, he brings great size and physicality to the position. Not only is he exceptional at using his body to shield off defensive backs, but he also is solid at jump balls in the end zone.
While not a burner, he's an adept route runner. With the combination of his physical nature and lack of depth at the position, Payton could see early play time.
MLB Aaron Porter
Aaron Porter is a complete throwback at the middle linebacker position.
For his high school team La Habra, he was absolutely everywhere. When watching film, Porter literally jumps off of the screen with his instincts, effort and closing speed.
A lifelong Bruin fan, Porter committed early to UCLA under then-head coach Rick Neuheisel.
As Neuheisel was fired, Porter wavered a bit on his commitment. Ultimately, Mora and new linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich were able to sign Porter after strong last-minute pushes from Oregon and Oklahoma.
Porter was not only a four-year varsity starter for his high school, but he was also the CIF Defensive Player of the Year.
With a lack of overall depth at the linebacker level, Porter could be part of the rotation early in his career. If anything, he'll start out as a special teams dynamo.
What These 6 Bring to the Table
With the inclusion of these six signees, the talent on the roster is dramatically increased.
In regards to McCarthy, Castro, Porter and Adams, a stud young athlete is now visible on each level of the defense.
All of the aforementioned freshmen can be built around in the future to form a strong core at their respective levels of the defense.
McCarthy is an absolute bull on the defensive line, while both Porter and Adams are incredibly instinctual and cerebral players. Castro brings an aggressiveness and an unabated desire to attack the quarterback. Those qualities aren't really seen by any current member of the roster.
As for the offensive side of the ball, both Payton and Fuller act as playmakers. Payton might play sooner due to his physical maturity, but Fuller is naturally a supreme talent. His slipperiness out in space makes him a dangerous offensive threat.
One thing's for sure: Mora is committed to upping the overall talent in the program.
Here is UCLA's 2012 class in its totality.