USC vs. UCLA: Whose 2014 Recruiting Class Is Better Right Now?
Most college rivalries are between schools in the same state, but USC and UCLA share a rare rivalry due to the schools being in the same city.
USC is also one of the national recruiting juggernauts, as it has had a powerful hold on the Los Angeles recruiting trail. However, UCLA has recently started to emerge as a serious threat to the Trojans for prospects, and that has continued through the 2014 recruiting cycle.
Each program wants to sign a great class next February, but it is time to decide who has the better class right now!
2014 USC Recruiting Class Capsule
Head coach Lane Kiffin and his ace recruiter Ed Orgeron have the ability to recruit nationally, but USC's class only consists of recruits from California. Defense has been the emphasis, especially in the trenches, with half of the class made up of defensive line recruits.
The line of scrimmage is also the area of focus on offense, as all three commitments on that side of the ball are offensive linemen.
2014 UCLA Recruiting Class Capsule
California continues to be UCLA's main hotbed, as it has four commitments who hail from the state. Yet head coach Jim Mora and his staff have gone to Arizona, Indiana and even Alabama to score pledges.
The Bruins clearly want to add reinforcements to their receiver depth chart. All four of their offensive commitments play that position, and each of them stand at least 6'1" or taller.
With Mora being a former NFL defensive backs coach, the secondary will always be important in Westwood. That is why it is not shocking that all three defensive pledges play on top of the defense.
USC's Top 2014 Commitments
Derik Calhoun, a 4-star outside linebacker, is a 6'0", 215-pounder with great speed and athleticism. He has a thick build, loves contact and flashes the skills to excel in coverage.
Tashon Smallwood is a 6'1", 280-pound 4-star defensive tackle with solid quickness in the trenches. He can penetrate gaps, has solid strength and will be pushed hard by defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.
The Trojans also boast a pledge from Malik Dorton, a 4-star defensive end who can set the edge versus running plays. Dorton could be moved to outside linebacker in USC's 3-4/5-2 defensive scheme.
Jordan Poland is a huge 4-star offensive lineman at nearly 6'7" and 333 pounds. Poland will not play football this fall, but he will get a chance to work on his technique and become more flexible.
UCLA's Top 2014 Commitments
Bruin fans have to be excited about 4-star receiver Austin Roberts. From Indiana, the 6'2", 211-pounder has fantastic ball skills, can catch in crowds and knows how to use his size.
Although he plays safety, 3-star prospect Ron Robinson may be better as an outside linebacker. He excels when he can attack the line of scrimmage, is quick to find the football in the box and hits with force.
Antreal Allen is a 3-star cornerback who is undervalued. Allen, who is 5'10" and 182 pounds, is a scrappy defender who has solid awareness and instincts and does not back down from anyone.
USC's 2014 Recruiting Class Headliner
A 4-star offensive lineman, Toa Lobendahn is the top player in USC's recruiting class. He plays offensive tackle in high school, but the 6'3", 293-pounder likely will be a guard in Troy.
Lobendahn displays above-average quickness at the snap but is better when he is engaged with a defender. He has a strong punch, sustains his block and has the ability to roll his hips through contact to power through his opponent.
Lobendahn protects the passer well in short areas. He can set up quickly, punch a rusher and has the strength to anchor. He could get a look as a center, but Lobendahn projects best as guard.
UCLA's 2014 Recruiting Class Headliner
Barry Ware is a 4-star receiver who is 6'3" and 190 pounds. He is a speedy athlete who displays a solid burst when releasing off the line.
Ware can create separation at junction points due to his ability to sharply skate out of his cuts. He has great hands, extends his arms to attack the football with his mitts and can adjust his body positioning to different types of throws.
Ware is not a speedster, so do not expect many electrifying plays from him in Westwood. However, he will catch a lot of balls, move the chains and make a big play or two for the Bruins.
And the Winner Is...
Neither school has a dominant class, but USC has the superior group.
The Trojans possess better quality, as their class of eight commitments has five 4-star prospects, while UCLA has just one 4-star recruit in its seven-man class.
Both schools will certainly add to their totals before February, and this arms race is far from over. However, as of now, the Trojans are winning.