UCLA Football Recruiting: How the Bruins' Program Sells Itself

Jeff Poirier@@JJPoirCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

The 2013 recruiting cycle has been kind to UCLA and head coach Jim Mora, as the Bruins have already put together an impressive crop of verbal commitments at positions of need.

Currently, the Bruins' class is ranked No. 4 nationally by Scout, No. 9 by Rivals, No. 11 by 247Sports and No. 12 by ESPN, giving Mora and Co. the strongest haul in the Pac-12.

And to be sure this isn't an anomaly, one can look to the Class of 2012 for evidence. Last year, the newly appointed UCLA coaching staff was able to sign the No. 13 class in the nation despite joining the race down the home stretch.

So, what is it about Mora's staff that makes them such all-star recruiters?

It could be the Bruins' sudden on-field resurgence in 2012, or maybe Mora's no-nonsense professional attitude. Or perhaps it's because the UCLA staff boasts over 90 years of NFL experience combined.

Those are all plausible explanations for Mora's success since coming to Westwood, but they fail to capture the whole picture. In fact, the biggest reason for the Bruins' recruiting juice in 2013 is beyond the coaches' control.

The fact of the matter is...UCLA is UCLA, and the program sells itself.

After all, successful recruiting is nothing new to UCLA, as the Bruins have managed to land loaded classes despite toiling in the throes of mediocrity for years.

During Rick Neuheisel's four-year tenure, UCLA had an overall record of 21-30, including two 4-8 seasons. But in spite of the horrendous on-field product, the prospects still lined up to be Bruins.

Neuheisel was able to corral the No. 13 class in the country in 2008, the No. 14 class in 2009 and the No. 8 class in 2010 (per Rivals.com rankings).

Clearly, blue-chip recruits from across the country have always flocked to UCLA for various reasons, the Bruins' winning percentage notwithstanding.

But what makes that happen? Well, just ask UCLA football signee Caleb Benenoch, a 4-star OG out of Seven Lakes High (Katy, Texas):

What Benenoch is referring to is UCLA's Westwood campus, a 419-acre oasis nestled in a quiet corner of the most diverse city in America.

On top of perfectly warm and sunny weather year round, the UCLA campus boasts a location unrivaled in college sports. 

The campus (which is spectacular in its own right) is surrounded by the "three B's" of Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills, making the Bruins' home one of the safest and most iconic locations in Los Angeles.

The Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches are less than five miles away, not to mention the entertainment meccas of Hollywood and L.A. Live are within a half-hour drive in even the worst traffic.

And when they're not out enjoying L.A.'s endless offerings, UCLA students can hit the books and work toward a degree from one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

According to U.S. News, UCLA is the No. 31 university on the planet, with over 337 degree programs and majors, as well as a faculty composed of world leaders in every discipline imaginable.

Considering all of that, it's no surprise that UCLA is the most applied to school in the nation, and has been for many years. For the 2013 admission cycle, UCLA received close to 100,000 undergraduate applications, breaking its own record for most applicants in a year.

But if that wasn't enough to sway a recruit into picking the Bruins, a storied history of athletic excellence should provide the final push.

UCLA currently holds 108 NCAA national titles, making it the most decorated program in college sports history. Athletic legends like Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller, Troy Aikman, Arthur Ashe, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Rafer Johnson have all donned the True Blue and Gold.

And that list doesn't even include the myriad of current professional superstars, including Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Maurice Jones-Drew. Suffice it to say, when an athlete decides to be a Bruin, he or she is joining the most elite fraternity in the world.

For football players, the pot gets even sweeter when they first step foot in their prospective home stadium: the Rose Bowl.

Since 1982, UCLA has called the Rose Bowl home, having the distinct privilege of suiting up in the most famed college stadium in the country. That is especially important for Southern California recruits, as their friends and family can make the trip to Pasadena to watch them play on a regular basis.

And considering how fertile and talent-rich the California recruiting scene is, the Bruins' advantage is borderline unfair.

If a recruit is looking for the perfect blend of athletic and academic excellence, all centered in a global city, UCLA is the place to be.

Jim Mora is the latest beneficiary of the UCLA magic, and his first two recruiting classes support that claim. If the Bruins can continue to improve on the field and compete for championships, there's no reason to believe the trend will change.

UCLA has been, and always will be, a recruiting behemoth. But Mora and Co. have awoken the sleeping giant.

College football teams across the country better take notice: The big bad Bruins are here to stay.


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