UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 2014 WRs Who Can Be Difference Makers
Recruiting the wide receiver position is a huge point of emphasis for the UCLA Bruins in the 2014 recruiting cycle.
There's a relative lack of explosiveness and speed with the crop on the current roster. Jim Mora and wide receivers coach Eric Yarber have been making it a point to address the situation during this current year, and it's quite feasible that UCLA hopes to sign up to three, or possibly four wideouts.
Currently, UCLA's lone commit for the 2014 class comes in the form of Corona Centennial wide receiver Barry Ware.
Let's take a look at some potential difference makers from the position.
Erik Brown, out of Summit High School in Fontana, Calif., is a player that's burst onto the scene over the past couple months.
After initially getting offers from the likes of Nevada and Houston, Brown's offer list expanded to include most of the Pac-12—including UCLA, Washington, Cal, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State.
At 6'1" 175 pounds, Brown is exceptionally quick and agile. He's also equipped with great body control in the air and has a pair of very soft hands.
At this point, it's looking like a UCLA-Washington battle. It could be a case of whether or not Brown wants to stay home for college, or if he wants to spread his proverbial wings and leave home.
Either way, someone will be getting a very talented player.
Jalen Brown is an incredibly smooth athlete with big upside.
The Phoenix, Ariz. product has good size at 6'3" and is extremely polished as a high school receiver. He demonstrates adept route-running ability and is good at getting separation from defenders.
His body control in the air is also quite impressive. Brown has very good hands, and at times makes it look effortless as he hauls in passes.
He is without a doubt one of the top players in the state of Arizona. Most recruiting publications (247sports) rank him as a 4-star athlete. Unsurprisingly, he has an offer list that spans the country.
Some of the interested parties that have extended offers include Southern Cal, Stanford, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
The Bruins have recruited the state of Arizona quite well recently. Not only is starting quarterback Brett Hundley from the desert state, but UCLA has also recently signed Paul Perkins, Kenny Lacy, Priest Willis, Jalen Ortiz and others.
UCLA is also heavily in the mix for current 2014 Arizona recruits such as Kyle Allen, Natrell Curtis, Tyler Whiley, Trevor Wood, Dionte Sykes and Ishmael Murphy-Richardson.
With offers from the likes of Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Florida State, wide receiver Malachi Dupre could go anywhere he wants.
Coming from the famed John Curtis program in River Ridge, La., general convention would suggest that Dupre stays in SEC country for college. However, he's shown more than a passing interest in the UCLA Football program.
Dupre has made multiple trips out west to check out the campus. He, along with highly-rated teammates Kenny Young and Mattrell McGraw, flew out to Los Angeles for UCLA's "Spring Showcase" in April.
Dupre is a physical receiver with deceptive speed. He's got tremendous hands and good ability after the catch in the open field.
With his overall talent, he'd be a candidate to get serious time as a true freshman—should he elect to sign with UCLA.
Alex Van Dyke
Alex Van Dyke is a big, physically imposing receiver out of Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, Calif.
At 6'4", he can go up and get the ball at its highest point. He's almost built like a basketball player in the sense that he's very long and gangly looking.
From a speed standpoint, he's good at putting one foot in the ground and exploding vertically up the field, though he's not necessarily the type of athlete that will dance around and make people miss in space.
One aspect that could bode well for the Bruins is that Van Dyke is good friends with his former high school teammate and current UCLA player Marcus Rios.
Aside from the Bruins, Van Dyke also boasts offers from the likes of Cal, Boise State, Purdue, Iowa State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Northwestern, among others.
Rahshead Johnson is currently committed to Washington—and has been since last June. UCLA also hasn't offered the Long Beach Cabrillo High School product.
However, there are some things that could play into the Bruins' favor.
For one, there's a big need for explosive, quick receivers on UCLA's roster. Johnson brings agility and pure speed to the table in droves. From a location standpoint, Johnson's roots are also only a stone throw's away from Westwood. The appeal of staying close to home while playing in front of family and friends could hold some clout.
Additionally, Washington has loaded up on quality receivers the past two seasons. Aside from Kasen Williams, the Huskies have recently signed talented prospects such as Darrell Daniels, Marvin Hall, Jaydon Mickens, Damore'ea Stringfellow and John Ross, among others.
There's a question as to how early Johnson will see the field. At UCLA, those dreams could be realized sooner.
Of course, this is all purely speculation. Should UCLA decide to offer the scout.com 4-star prospect, things could get interesting.
Tyler Whiley is a fantastic athlete out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He's versatile enough to play either in the secondary or as a skill position player in college.
With UCLA recruiting the state of Arizona extremely well lately, it would not be a shock to see him end up in Westwood. It'd just be a matter of what position he'd play.
Another Arizona native, Dionte Sykes, just received (via 247 sports) a UCLA offer. He's in the mold of a bigger, more physical receiver with good ball skills.
The big fish out west in 2014 is Michiah Quick. At this point, UCLA could be playing catch-up to schools lIke Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.