Mora pumping the team up before Nebraska
The UCLA Football program has recruited well during Jim Mora's short tenure in Westwood.
Mora was hired by UCLA in December of 2011. By that time, previous head coach Rick Neuheisel didn't leave much in the way of quality commitments. Mora literally had less than two months to forge relationships with recruits and their respective families and hope that these prospects would sign on the faith of a bright future.
Scout.com had UCLA's 2012 recruiting class ranked as the 12th-best class in the nation. It was astounding that Mora was able to ink such a talented class with minimal time. Members of the 2012 class such as Simon Goines, Jordan Payton, Devin Fuller, Kenny Orjioke, Ellis McCarthy, Ishmael Adams, Paul Perkins and Ka'imi Fairbairn all figure to be significant players for this upcoming season.
With a 9-5 record in Mora's first season, recruiting absolutely exploded for the Bruins.
According to Scout.com, Mora and his staff signed a class that ranked as the third-best class nationally. The team rankings system had UCLA finishing ahead of programs such as Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida and others.
Another strong season in 2013 will most likely result in another top recruiting class. Mora and his staff have absolutely invigorated a dormant program. Inordinate amounts of energy are percolating all throughout Westwood currently.
Regardless, a major question does persist: Can the program sustain the success out on the recruiting trails?
In the words of the immortal Al Davis, "Just win, baby!"
Now, the said axiom might sound a bit redundant in nature. Of course, continual winning will enhance a program's ability to compete at the highest level. For UCLA, the statement rings incredibly true for a myriad of reasons.
Dating back to when UCLA played in the 1998 Rose Bowl, the program has been stuck in a malaise of mediocrity.
Where will UCLA finish in the recruiting rankings nationally next February?
Year after year, teams with decent talent often underachieved greatly. For a university with such inherent advantages, UCLA should not be living around the .500 mark.
Mora understood this notion. He saw the potential of what the UCLA Football program ultimately could be. The sleeping giant moniker often placed upon the shoulders of the program is incredibly apropos. His goal included awakening the proverbial beast.
UCLA was the most applied-to university in the world, with 99,959 undergraduate applications received. From an academic ranking standpoint, the London Times Higher Education ranks UCLA 13th amongst the world's Top 400 institutions.
From a location aspect, the school is nestled right between Bel Air and Beverly Hills. The campus is regarded as being very beautiful and is only a few miles away from downtown Los Angeles. The amount of alumni support and opportunities in greater Los Angeles also exist in droves.
All of those facets should make UCLA a very attractive place to attend college. Surely Mora and his staff are taking full advantage of these aspects when selling the school to prospective recruits.
It hasn't been very difficult to get elite recruits interested in the university. For the reasons listed above, UCLA itself hold a great deal of appeal.
A major problem in all of this is that traditionally, there's been a gross lack of consistency in regards to UCLA's play on the field. Sure, UCLA has landed it's fair share of big time recruits. However, it wasn't to the extent that was necessarily desired.
The Bruins would be able to get into the top five, or top three for elite prospects. Due to the sporadic play on the field, those highly regarded recruits would often opt to sign somewhere else. Roy Miller and Sedrick Ellis were two examples of elite talent that considered UCLA heavily but ultimately went elsewhere.
UCLA finished 9-5 in 2012 and landed a top recruiting class. Imagine what Mora can do with 10 or more wins. At the end of the day, it's very simple for UCLA.
Just win, baby!