UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 Biggest Targets Left on the Board

Jeff Poirier@@JJPoirCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2012

UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 Biggest Targets Left on the Board

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    While the UCLA campus falls silent in the midst of finals week, the Bruins' efforts on the recruiting trail are starting to make some noise.

    Head coach Jim Mora and his staff have been busy this week, traveling across California and the country to woo the best college football prospects in the land.

    After hauling in the nation's No. 13 class in 2012 (according to Rivals), UCLA is on the verge of another monster class, currently ranked No. 12 in the country for 2013.

    But the Bruins aren't resting on their laurels as the NCAA dead period approaches, rather, they're looking to make another tsunami-sized splash.

    There are close to 40 undeclared recruits with UCLA offers, and Mora and Co. would love to snag a few more big-time prospects to fill out this year's class.

    Here's a look at the top players left on the Bruins' wish list, as well as a look at the main competitors for each athlete.

    Note: This slideshow was updated on December 14 after new recruiting information became available. Check back for more updates as the process unfolds.

Honorable Mentions

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    The following prospects just missed the top-five cut, but would certainly be welcomed to Westwood with a raucous ovation.


    Terrell Newby II, RB

    If you watched the video embedded on this slide, you already know what RB Terrell Newby II is capable of.

    The West Hills, California product from Chaminade has been tearing it up in the Southern California prep circuit, rumbling for 2,307 yards and 45 TDs as a senior.

    Interest in Newby has come on strong over the last few weeks, as the 5'10", 180-pound power back has been given offers by Cal, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington.

    UCLA has some steep competition to land Newby, but he would be a solid contributor in the Bruins' high-powered offense.


    Eldridge Massington, WR

    After decommitting from USC earlier this month, 4-star WR Eldridge Massington has turned his attention to UCLA, Alabama and Arizona State.

    The 6'3", 205-pound deep ball specialist reportedly met directly with the Bruins' coaching staff twice last week, once on campus and once in Mesquite, Texas at Massington's home.

    The results of the visits are still unknown, but if anyone can sell a high-flying offense to a recruit, it's Noel Mazzone.

    If Massington decides to come west, he would have the chance to work into the UCLA rotation immediately, especially if junior Shaq Evans declares for the NFL Draft.

5. John Ross, Athlete

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    One of the less-heralded prospects in the 2013 class is versatile athlete John Ross, but don't let his lower 4-star grade fool you—Ross can flat-out ball.

    The 5'9", 170-pound athlete out of Long Beach (Jordan) has been electrifying in his senior season, contributing in every facet of the game.

    In the video above, which provides highlights from Jordan High's recent game versus Dominguez, Ross gets it done in a multitude of ways, scoring a TD rushing, receiving, passing and returning.

    That sort of explosive athleticism would be a huge asset in Westwood, especially since the Bruins have been lacking a major threat in the WR corps recently.

    Mora and Co. are hopeful that Ross will pledge to the True Blue, but his list of suitors is extensive, including fellow Pac-12 frontrunners Oregon, Washington State and Washington.

4. Joe Mathis, DE

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    Despite the massive presence of freshman Ellis McCarthy, the upperclassman-rich UCLA defensive line will need to reload in the next two recruiting cycles.

    Landing a highly-touted D-lineman should be a priority in 2013, but the Bruins have just one commitment on the defensive front so far, 3-star DT Kenneth Clark.

    One of UCLA's late-game targets to bolster the class is Joe Mathis, a 6'4", 254-pound defensive end out of L.A.'s Inland Empire (Upland).

    The standout senior is a relentless competitor, exhibiting a strong motor and a keen desire to make the big play. Mathis certainly has room for improvement, as every player does, but he looks like a solid fit for the new-look Bruins.

    Mathis was formerly a Washington commit, but reneged on the Huskies in February. Since then, the U.S. Army All-American selection has been busy sorting through his reopened recruitment. 

    Mathis has a laundry list of offers, including Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama and 10 of the Pac-12 member institutions.

    The Bruins' position with Mathis is uncertain, but it's scary to imagine what the budding star could do under the tutelage of DC Lou Spanos and strength coach Sal Alosi.

3. Tahaan Goodman, S

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    The graduation of senior safety Andrew Abbott opens up a large role in the UCLA secondary, so naturally Mora and his staff are fighting for the best DB prospects available.

    Right near the top of that list is Tahaan Goodman, a senior safety from Rancho Cucamonga who has been highly recruited by every major West Coast program.

    Goodman is a devastating run-stopper with excellent pursuit skills and bone-crushing hit ability, as well as premier top-end speed.

    In addition to UCLA, the 6'2", 184-pound 4-star prospect has offers from LSU, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska, Oklahoma and many more.

    The Bruins are on Goodman's short list, which should have UCLA fans very excited about the future of the defensive backfield in Westwood. 

2. Isaac Savaiinaea, ILB

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    With the impending graduation of Damien Holmes and the potential loss of Anthony Barr to the NFL, UCLA will be in need of a top-flight linebacker to fill in the holes.

    That's where Isaac Savaiinaea enters the picture, as the 6'3", 231-pound inside 'backer from Honolulu's Punahou School has been beastly in his senior season.

    Savaiinaea is an absolute monster in the pass rush, using his 4.66 40-yard dash speed to penetrate the backfield and attack the quarterback. He also has powerful run-stopping abilities, constantly laying the wood to opposing RBs who manage to escape to the second level.

    Savaiinaea holds UCLA in high esteem, especially since multiple current Bruins hail from his high school, but there is a ton of competition for his services.

    Top-tier programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Stanford could still be in the running, but Mora and Co. look to have a great chance at landing Savaiinaea. 

1. Priest Willis, DB

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    The biggest target left on UCLA's radar is four-star defensive back Priest Willis, a versatile athlete out of Marcos De Niza High in Tempe, Arizona.

    Willis, a 6'2", 199-pound jump-ball expert, has exceptional coverage skills, takes great angles to the ball and exhibits superb swivel in his hips.

    The Bruins have lacked an elite cornerback in recent years, so Willis could come in and compete for playing time as a true freshman (should he commit to UCLA).

    One of the other big players in Willis' commitment is crosstown rival Southern Cal, which makes the recruitment of the top-flight DB so important. His reported interest in the Trojans has waned recently, but you can never count out USC when pen hits paper.

    Nebraska, Florida State, LSU, UVA, Notre Dame and hometown Arizona State are still on Willis' list as well, but UCLA has a good shot to land the Padres' all-star.