It's very conceivable to believe that the No. 13 UCLA Bruins will sign a monster 2014 recruiting class in February.
Of course, the potential success on the recruiting trail will surely correlate with how the Bruins perform on the field. It will not be easy by any stretch for UCLA to theoretically run the table, or even finish with a double-digit win total.
The road schedule in conference play is incredibly difficult. Jim Mora's squad will play its first road conference game against Utah. The last time UCLA made the trek to Salt Lake City in 2011, the Bruins were thrashed by a score of 31-6.
The game this year on Oct. 3 will also be nationally televised on a Thursday night. The unconventional nature of a midweek game could be an interesting wrinkle added to the contest.
As the schedule progresses, UCLA will be facing Stanford and Oregon, both on the road, in back-to-back weeks. This will be perhaps the most difficult stretch for any program in the country to deal with in consecutive weeks (yes, this includes SEC teams). Facing two top-five teams on the road is daunting, to say the least.
Also on the schedule includes Pac-12 South Division foe Arizona State, the upstart Washington Huskies and a game in the Coliseum against the USC Trojans to finish out the regular season.
In 2013, Mora and his staff signed a top-three recruiting class in the nation (per Scout.com). The luster of a new coaching staff, plus newfound success on the gridiron helped the Bruins in signing such a talented class. Naturally, the next step would include a semblance of consistency from a winning standpoint.
UCLA has gone unscathed (3-0) in non-conference play. When looking at the schedule (as currently constituted), the Bruins are likely to be favored in every game, save for the road tilts at Oregon and at Stanford. Should that scenario come to fruition, UCLA would theoretically finish with a 10-2 record, and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
How would a 10-2 regular season record impact UCLA's program? It very well could create a firestorm, and essentially allow the Bruins to sign yet another top recruiting class.
A successful season of that magnitude would in theory signal a third straight appearance in the conference championship game. It would also cement the thought that the Bruins are in fact the class of the Pac-12 South Division.
It's also poignant to mention that the proverbial needle is moving squarely in UCLA's direction when compared to crosstown rival USC. There's no telling whether or not Lane Kiffin will be USC's coach after this season. However, the Trojans have a rich and illustrious program. It won't be long until the Trojans are back performing at an incredibly high level.
As a result, it's truly time for UCLA to strike while the iron is hot.
Recruiting thus far for the Bruins has been average at best. Scout.com currently has UCLA with the 45th best recruiting class in the nation. With only nine commitments, this class isn't close to being finished.
The majority of the prospects hail from the state of California. While somewhat under the radar, the majority of the in-state commitments prep at prominent high school programs in the state.
Although the class isn't outstanding by any measure, recruits across the country have taken notice of the momentum that Mora's program has recently built.
UCLA's top commitment up to this point comes in the form of 4-star receiver Austin Roberts. The Carmel, Ind. native chose the Bruins over offers from Alabama, Florida, Stanford, Ohio State and Miami.
Elite linebacker Rashaan Evans from Auburn, Ala. will be visiting UCLA officially this upcoming weekend. Evans' father told AL.com that Evans is "really excited about his trip to UCLA [this weekend]. He's going to be the only thing they have going on this weekend so they can give him all of their attention and really spend quality time with him."
UCLA does have a connection that could help land the talented 'backer. Evans' high school teammate Antreal Allen has already committed to the Bruins.
Safety Mattrell McGraw out of New Orleans has UCLA in his top two, along with Oregon. Two other Louisiana prospects, Kenny Young and Malachi Dupre, also like UCLA a lot. Young recently tweeted a list of his final six choices. That list did ultimately include the Bruins.
Dupre told reporter Jamie Newberg of Scout.com that UCLA is one of his final four finalists. The trio all visited UCLA together earlier this summer, per reporter Edward Lewis of Bruin Sports Report. Athlete Marlon Humphrey will visit UCLA officially, as will Alabama commitment Shaun Hamilton (per Scout.com).
It goes without saying, but the Bruins's national profile will continue to increase with continual winning. As a result, recruits from outside of the West Coast will begin to take notice and have an increasing interest in UCLA's program. A double-digit win season will vastly improve UCLA's chances with all of the recruits mentioned above.
UCLA is also in on the majority of the elite prospects in California.
Most recently a developement has formed in regards to stud 5-star tailback Joe Mixon. The Freedom, Calif. native has recently reconsidered UCLA, and now has the Bruins on his list (per Edward Lewis of Bruin Sports Report). Mixon is an elite talent from the running back position.
One would have to think that UCLA's current record did have some influence on Mixon's decision to give the Bruins a closer look. Additionally, it doesn't hurt that UCLA is rushing for an average of 284 yards per game through the first three contests.
Jackson told Edward Lewis of Bruin Sports Report that UCLA calls or messages him 10-15 times a day. Williams told CollegeLevelAthletes.com that "I don't think there's a better college staff put together. They have over 120 years of experience. Most of them have won Super Bowls."
The momentum is present for UCLA to take the next step in eventually becoming an elite football program on the West Coast. UCLA also recently announced that a $50 million dollar football facility will be built in the upcoming years. It's undoubtedly an attempt to gain an advantage on the competition.
In the words of the immortal Al Davis, "Just win, baby." It's truly that simple for a program trying to rise from the throes of mediocrity.
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