UCLA Football Recruiting: Grading the Bruins 2013 Class
With the 2013 signing day in the books, the UCLA Bruins landed a deep and talented recruiting class.
As evidenced by the signees, it was apparent that Jim Mora wanted to strengthen the roster from both a depth and talent standpoint.
He focused heavily on the offensive line. In addition, a great deal of energy was spent on the defensive side of the ball—namely in the secondary and at linebacker.
Here's how the Bruins graded out on their 2013 class.
In some ways, the Bruins lucked into landing Asiantii Woulard.
The talented quarterback from Winter Park, Fla., was previously committed to South Florida and wasn't involved with UCLA until rather recently.
UCLA previously had a commitment from Eddie Printz. However, both parted ways—leaving UCLA without a quarterback. Depth at the position behind Brett Hundley isn't ideal, and it was thought that signing a quarterback in this cycle would be the best move going forward.
The Bruins struck out after attempted efforts with local signal-callers Troy Williams and Hayden Rettig.
With options rather limited, the Bruins struck gold with Woulard. He was named as the Elite 11 MVP earlier this season and has all the tools to be a big-time player one day.
He's a bit raw as a player, but he'll get the chance to learn behind Brett Hundley and the tutelage of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
RB Craig Lee (photo courtesy of 247Sports)
The UCLA backfield will take a big hit with the graduation of Johnathan Franklin. He was the heart and soul of the team this past season and was a second team All-American to boot.
His production won't be replicated, but the Bruins were hoping that Craig Lee could come in and fill that void. However, it doesn't look like that will happen.
It was reported today that Lee will not sign his letter of intent to UCLA and will have to improve on his academic standing in order to eventually enroll, according to a tweet by Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times.
It's not to say that Lee won't eventually be a Bruin, but it's up in the air as to when he'll come into the fold.
Some of the running back concerns could be alleviated with the return of Malcolm Jones (Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times).
Jones—the former national Gatorade Player of the Year—is electing to walk on to the team after leaving earlier this year. He could become a factor in the running back derby.
Jalen Ortiz out of Peoria, Ariz., is a perfect fit for Mazzone's offense. He's a slippery player with great quickness and athleticism. He's athletic from the standpoint that he can catch passes out of the backfield and also play as a slot receiver.
He's slated to play in the slot for the Bruins.
This slide starts and ends with Lee. If he were a lock to enroll, UCLA would have a potential starter on their hands. As it stands, this grade stands incomplete until further notice.
*The one local back whom UCLA, perhaps, dropped the ball with was Terrell Newby. The Nebraska signee would have been a nice fit in Mazzone's offense.
The Bruins added a couple of very talented prospects to a wide receiver corps in desperate need of explosiveness.
Perhaps, the most impressive member of the group is Thomas Duarte.
The Mater Dei High School product is a nightmare proposition for any defender. He's too big and physical for most defensive backs, and he's too fast and athletic for the average linebacker. At 6'3" 235 pounds, he's very much a hybrid tight end/H-back. In terms of a comparison, he's very similar to Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots.
Eldridge Massington has already enrolled at UCLA. He was a former commitment to Southern Cal, but changed his mind before coming to Westwood.
Massington has very good straight line speed and leaping ability. He's also good in the YAC category. He is currently recuperating from a torn ACL, so it will be some time before he's fully back to healthy state.
Johnson is from the famed Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. He's a versatile athlete who can play at either wide receiver or in the secondary. He's a tough, athletic kid who should fit in nicely. Johnson suffered a major knee injury during an All-Star game, and thus, will come in as a grayshirt.
Andrews is a track athlete with tremendous speed and quickness. A relative of UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, Andrews should start out in the slot.
The grade for this unit would have been higher if UCLA landed a couple of their primary targets. The Bruins struck out on longtime targets Devon Allen, John Ross, Demorea Stringfellow and Darrell Daniels.
Signing skill position players should be a big emphasis in 2014.
Courtesy of Caleb Benenoch's tweet
Adrian Klemm definitely made some money on signing day.
The offensive line coach/recruiting ace landed UCLA seven uber-talented offensive line prospects. While seven may seem a bit of an overkill, the Bruins truly need depth. It's not out of the question to think that five of the seven could potentially see time next season as true freshmen.
Depth is paper thin, and the talent isn't much better. Just based purely on the numbers, it was clear that UCLA needed to address this unit, and boy did they.
Klemm signed prospects from California, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas. Every single offensive line prospect signed played in some sort of All-Star game, and each of the seven had offers from all over the country.
Of the committed prospects, each brings a certain skill to the table.
Center Scott Quessenberry is a very tough and intelligent prospect. He's also considered to be very athletic for an offensive lineman. Similarly, Phoenix native Kenny Lacy is a very long, athletic lineman with a good upside.
Christian Morris is a long, good looking tackle from Memphis. He had offers from all across the country and decided to stick with his long-term commitment to the Bruins.
Perhaps, the offensive line commitment with the most upside is Poasi Moala. He's got every tool that one would look for in the prototypical offensive tackle. He needs to gain weight, but he's got a very bright future.
The former Oregon commitment Alex Redmond is an absolute beast. A renowned wrestler in Southern California, Redmond combines a nasty streak along with immense physicality. He's the type of warrior one wants in the trenches.
With this haul, Klemm has completely restocked the offensive line with talent. Expect one, or possibly two members, of this group to start next season.
DL Kenneth Clark (Photo courtesy of 247Sports)
UCLA may have gotten only two commitments on the defensive line, but both are high-quality linemen out of the Inland Empire.
Landing Fitts is huge for the Bruins. He seems like a perfect fit as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. It also doesn't hurt that UCLA was able to sway him away from their crosstown rivals.
In my mind, Kenneth Clark doesn't get nearly the amount of publicity that he should. He's versatile from the standpoint that he can play any position along the defensive line, although he's slated to be a future nose guard.
The product from Rialto, Calif., has got great quickness and lower-body explosion. Clark also displays lots of toughness out on the field.
It's never easy getting two quality defensive line prospects out west, and the Bruins were able to do so. Even more fascinating is the fact that both come from the Inland Empire. Traditionally, UCLA doesn't recruit the area well. With Mora as the coach, there's been a concerted effort to target the I.E. with more of a fervor.
*The Bruins would have gotten a higher grade had they landed Eddie Vanderdoes. Unfortunately for Bruins' fans, Vanderdoes is headed to Notre Dame.
The linebacker corps got a major influx of talent on signing day.
Savaiinaea is a physical presence who can truly be a future quarterback of the defense. He's already the size of a college linebacker and can viably contribute in a reserve role next season.
The Oaks Christian product Judge is a versatile player who can be slotted on the outside or inside. He's another intelligent athlete who reads the game extremely well and is a big hitter.
Hollins is a pass-rushing dynamo. He possesses superlative quickness and speed off the edge and can be employed a a stand-up rusher. The Texas native is on the smaller side, but his athleticism cannot be ignored.
Of the four, Jack has potentially the best shot to start right away. He's bigger than Hollins, and more athletic than both Judge and Savaiinaea. Jack is best in the role as a pass-rusher coming off of the edge.
Signing the quartet is a major boon for the Bruins. Each product brings a little something different to the table.
The defensive back class signed by UCLA ranks up there among the best in the nation.
Depth is scary thin in the secondary for the Bruins, and it was imperative that Mora go out and sign some talented kids to play right away.
Johnny Johnson from Fresno is a bulldog at corner. He's not the tallest in height, but more than makes up for it with his physicality and competitiveness. He's eerily similar to former UCLA great Ricky Manning.
Tahaan Goodman is a supremely talented safety. There aren't many weaknesses to his game, and he could very well come in and start next season.
Safety Tyler Foreman was a commitment to Wisconsin before switching over to UCLA. He's a physical safety who can come up in the box and make the tackles. He's also got great ball skills.
Priest Willis has as much ability as any player in this class. The Tempe, Ariz.,native is versatile enough to play at both corner and safety.
Although he technically hasn't signed his letter of intent, it's a formality—as he's waiting for his mother to get back into town before making it official.
The last member of the secondary is the speedy Jayon Brown. Brown comes from famed Long Beach Poly High School and was the team's best player this past year.
While lacking ideal size, Brown always is seemingly around the ball-making plays. He'll be a nice fit in the hybrid linebacker/safety role that UCLA likes to employ in nickel situations.
This group of defensive backs is a stellar haul for Mora and defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin. It offers depth, versatility and more than anything, talent.
Head coach Jim Mora
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
This could potentially be one of the best classes UCLA has ever signed.
Mora and his staff has put together a class that encompasses many different elements.
For one, the Bruins got a couple of local kids that might not have been highly recruited, but they all come from successful high school programs. Each of them (Brown, Johnson, Andrews) will enter with proverbial chips on their shoulders.
The Bruins also signed kids spanning from all across the country. On Wednesday, the Bruins signed kids from California, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Tennessee, Florida and Hawaii. The majority of those prospects had a litany of top programs to choose from.
UCLA also landed one of the best punters in the nation in Sean Covington. He also hails from the state of Florida.
More than anything, the Bruins landed players at positions of needs, upped the talent on the defensive side of the ball considerably and improved the overall depth on the team with a huge talent infusion
Here is the UCLA recruiting class in it's totality.