Jim Mora has UCLA recruiting on the rise
With less than two weeks until national signing day, the UCLA Bruins have caught quite a head of steam on the recruiting trail.
Following a massive weekend of official visits, UCLA received verbals from four 4-star defensive backs, including the highly sought-after duo of Tahaan Goodman and Priest Willis.
Goodman announced his commitment to the Bruins at about 2:30 PST at his high school, and Willis did the same just four hours later. In the weeks leading up to the decisions, rumor was that Goodman and Willis was a package deal, and that UCLA was on the short list.
Well, the talented safety tandem substantiated the speculative whispers on Wednesday, deciding that Bruin blue is in their blood.
The recent additions have launched the Bruins into the top-10 nationally for the Class of 2013 (according to both Rivals and Scout.com). And if Willis' excitement is any indication, UCLA could continue climbing.
After choosing the Bruins, Willis was adamant that he and his fellow recruits would push hard with the nation's top remaining uncommitted athletes. In a report from Scout, Willis wasn't dancing around the issue.
I want to go out and recruit guys like Eddie Vanderdoes and Kylie Fitts and a few others and make this a huge class. I know Tahaan committed earlier today and that's my boy right there. I can't wait to play with him in college.
The 2013 college football recruiting cycle is rounding the corner for the bell lap, and UCLA is in a nice position to make a move. Before the dust settles on February 6, Jim Mora and the Bruins could be looking at a top-five class littered with talent on both sides of the ball.
But, as is the case with college recruiting, we won't know for sure until every last Letter of Intent is signed, faxed and celebrated. With that said, here's a look at UCLA's national signing day wish list, complete with each player that could lift the Bruins' class from excellent to elite.
Note: All recruiting information, including rankings, commitment news and statistics, is sourced from 247Sports and the 247Sports Composite Rankings, unless otherwise noted.
Position(s): Cornerback, Return Specialist
Measurables: 6'2", 190 pounds, 4.50 40
Hometown: Cerritos, Calif. (Richard Gahr)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Washington, Boise State
The UCLA secondary has already gotten a massive shot in the arm with four huge commitments, but the Bruins aren't done yet.
Patrick Enewally, a 3-star CB and another DB recruit from the January 18 official visit, could complete the sweep and pledge to Mora and the Bruins.
Enewally is a tall and physical force on the edge, possessing instinctual ball skills in coverage and a knack for sure-handed tackles in run support. With a 4.50 40-yard dash time, Enewally also has the speed necessary to stay in stride with the opposing teams' best.
At this point, it appears Enewally has narrowed his list to three finalists in UCLA, Washington and Boise State. But if last weekend's visit is any indication, the Bruins could be the bunch to beat.
In a text message to Erik McKinney of ESPN Insider, Enewally had this to say of his official visit to UCLA and his thoughts on the football program:
UCLA had a great atmosphere. The coaches, players and entire family behind it gave a great vibe. I loved everything about it, especially how all the recruits got together.
Whether or not Enewally ends up with the Bruins remains to be seen, but he is definitely a fan of what's brewing in Westwood. And now that four of his fellow DBs have picked UCLA, Enewally could be next in line.
Position(s): Inside Linebacker
Measurables: 6'3", 230 pounds, 4.66 40
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii (Punahou)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Texas A&M
Perhaps no player in this slideshow is higher on the Bruins' wish list than 4-star inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea.
After decommitting from Stanford in November, the 6'3", 230-pound big-play machine has honed his recruitment down to two major programs: UCLA and Texas A&M.
Unfortunately for fans of the Aggies and Bruins, Savaiinaea hasn't given any indication of where he is leaning, and he won't announce his intent until national signing day.
Coming out of the Punahou School in Honolulu, Savaiinaea has developed a name for himself as a hard-hitting bruiser who never quits. Savaiinaea has a high-powered motor and is always looking to get physical, very similar traits to current Bruin 'backer Anthony Barr.
If Savaiinaea chooses UCLA on February 6, he will be on the fast-track to fan favorite under the tutelage of Barr and an extremely experienced linebacker corps.
Position(s): Defensive Tackle
Measurables: 6'2", 310 pounds
Hometown: Auburn, Calif. (Placer)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Washington
While UCLA has done an excellent job recruiting the defensive backfield, there hasn't been much work done along the D-line just yet. The Bruins have one player committed to man the defensive trenches in 4-star DT Kenneth Clark, but they could be bulking up with a few former USC commits soon.
Vanderdoes is rated as the No. 1 DT prospect in the country, and the best overall player coming out of California in the 2013 class. Wherever he decides to play, he's going to make an impact early on.
Since relinquishing his pledge to 'SC, Vanderdoes has taken a number of official visits, including trips to Notre Dame and two-time defending BCS champion Alabama.
But when push comes to shove on national signing day, there's a legitimate chance that Vanderdoes could spurn all of those storied programs for the Bruins of UCLA. According to 247Sports' recruiting timeline, Vanderdoes made the trip to Westwood twice in November before eventually reopening his recruitment.
With the graduation of Cassius Marsh, Owa Odighizuwa and Seali'i Epenesa after next season, there will be plenty of space on the D-line for Vanderdoes to stake his claim.
Position(s): Defensive End
Measurables: 6'4", 241 pounds
Hometown: Redlands, Calif. (East Valley)
Biggest Players in Commitment: USC, Notre Dame, Washington, Oregon
Alongside Vanderdoes on the list of former Southern Cal commits considering UCLA is 4-star defensive end Kylie Fitts.
Fitts was a lock to don the Cardinal and Gold for close to a year, but had his hopes shattered when his early enrollment to USC was denied. In a highly-publicized decommitment, Fitts backed off his verbal, citing a lack of trust in the coaching staff as the deciding factor.
In a report from Blair Angulo of ESPN, Fitts had this to say about his tumultuous change of status:
Something happened recently that questioned my trust in USC, so I'm reopening my recruitment. It literally broke my heart. I broke down and cried. It was so hard for me and my family. It's just what's best for me at this moment. I'm putting in God's hands and trusting that everything will work out.
Those are some very strong words from Fitts, and that emotion could ultimately drive him away from the Trojans for good. And if there is any team to benefit from that, it's UCLA.
According to 247Sports, Fitts has visited UCLA twice since parting ways with USC, and you can bet Mora and Co. made him feel right at home in Westwood.
But despite the shady dealings and bad press across town, UCLA has a lot of work to do over the next two weeks. USC is still a very likely destination for the 6'4", 241-pound run-stopper, and no Bruin wants to line up against Fitts in the Battle for Los Angeles.
Measurables: 6'4", 200 pounds
Hometown: Winter Park, Fla. (Winter Park)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Clemson, Kentucky, South Florida, NC State
Because of the emergence of QB Brett Hundley in 2012, the Bruins' coaching staff wasn't too worried about filling up the recruiting class with signal-callers.
But when a quarterback like Asiantii Woulard comes calling, there's no ignoring the 6'4, 200-pound dual threat out of Winter Park, Fla.
Originally committed to play for South Florida, Woulard has since reopened his recruitment and is considering a number of programs. In addition to UCLA and USF, the No. 1 overall QB prospect (via ESPN) is reportedly down to Clemson, Kentucky and North Carolina State for his services.
And while there is little chance that he could play early on, Woulard could be the Bruins' field general of the future in the event he chooses to come West.
Woulard is set for an official visit on Friday, according to 247Sports' recruiting timeline. Needless to say, if UCLA secures a Letter of Intent from the 4-star QB, it would be an explosive finish to an already impressive 2013 recruiting class.
Devon Allen (via Presswire)
Position(s): Wide Receiver
Measurables: 6'1", 187 pounds, 4.48 40
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz. (Brophy Prep)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Arkansas, Oregon, Florida State
Update: 4-star wideout Devon Allen committed to Oregon on January 25
Position(s): Wide Receiver
Measurables: 6'3", 180 pounds, 4.60 40
Hometown: Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill)
Biggest Players in Commitment: Ole Miss, TCU, Texas Tech, Nebraska
Update: 3-star wideout Quincy Adeboyejo committed to Ole Miss on January 25