Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins have three items written on their holiday wish list.
As the team sets up shop in El Paso for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, questions about the upcoming months of the program will undoubtedly arise. Two big-time players on the current team have yet to publicly announce whether or not they will return to school for another season.
The act of restocking the roster with elite high school recruits is a pressing matter. Landing prospects at certain positions of need is a must.
Lastly, a significant opportunity is presented with the upcoming game versus Virginia Tech.
Here are three things that UCLA fans and Mora are wishing for this holiday season.
DT Ainuu Taua
UCLA's current recruiting class isn't overly big. With a shortage of scholarships, Mora and the staff have been somewhat selective in terms of offering scholarships and accepting commitments.
Mora's short tenure in Westwood has produced two great classes. In 2012, Mora's first recruiting class was ranked No. 12 in the country (per Scout.com). Last year, Scout.com had UCLA signing the nation's third best class. It was a class which included Eddie Vanderdoes, Alex Redmond, Caleb Benenoch and Myles Jack, among others.
This year, the concentration has focused on the secondary and skill positions. Nine of the twelve commitments are defensive backs, running backs and wide receivers.
There's also been a shift in regards to recruiting elite talent from outside of California. In particular, out-of-state prospects such as Zach Whitley, Malachi Dupre, Rashaan Evans, Kenny Young and Solomon Thomas are garnering lots of attention.
As for in-state prospects, UCLA would love to land both Michiah Quick and Joe Mixon. Mixon would instantly impact the thin depth chart at running back. Quick would have the potential to make noise as a slot receiver early in his career.
The continuance of landing elite talent will further help strengthen the depth on the roster. It will also aid in the development of UCLA becoming a prominent program in the Pac-12.
At 9-3, UCLA has a shot at winning double-digit games for the first time since 2005.
Virginia Tech, albeit a bit down, is still a marquee name. It's a team UCLA should in all honesty "get up" for. Last year in the Holiday Bowl, UCLA was embarrassed by an under the radar Baylor team. The Bruins will likely want to atone for last year's debacle.
A 10-win season would do wonders for the program. It would in some capacity validate the efforts of Mora and his coaching staff. The "sleeping giant" moniker would theoretically be eradicated. Recruiting could also get a considerable boost.
Also, the underachieving nature of the program—which has become emblematic of the UCLA football team—could be put to rest from a national perspective.
In essence, this is game of mass importance to UCLA.
The two biggest recruits for the 2014 recruiting class are already existing members of the team.
Both quarterback Brett Hundley and Xavier Su'a-Filo could leave for the NFL at the conclusion of this season.
Su'a-Filo was an All Pac-12 first-team selection this season. Although naturally a guard, he was forced to protect Hundley's blind side and suit up as a left tackle. Su'a-Filo was the offensive winner of the Morris Trophy. This award is unique from the standpoint that the winners are voted on by the starting defensive linemen in the Pac-12. Su'a-Filo's peers felt as if he was the top offensive lineman in the conference.
He demonstrated incredible versatility and selflessness in the process. Su'a-Filo mentored an extremely young UCLA offensive line. His presence would be missed not only on the field, but also from a leadership standpoint (should he leave).
Hundley was dubbed as "the savior" from the moment he stepped onto the campus in Westwood. His time at UCLA has been nothing short of spectacular. As a redshirt sophomore, Hundley has already broken numerous school records.
His potential departure would be a huge hit for next year's prospects. With Hundley in tow, UCLA has a viable shot at winning the Pac-12 and participating in a BCS bowl game for the first time since 1998.
If Hundley leaves, UCLA could be set back a bit.
The return of his star quarterback would be the biggest present Mora will have received during the holiday season in 2013.