UCLA Football Recruiting: Everything You Need to Know for National Signing Day
National signing day is right around the corner. Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins will want to close out the 2014 recruiting cycle strong with the hopes of signing a top-ranked class.
UCLA currently has 16 commitments in tow, with four of those pledges enrolling early. It's likely that the Bruins will have anywhere from six to eight scholarships left to use.
Many of the uncommitted prospects being targeted by the Bruins hail from the Southeast region of the country. Others are elite prospects from the state of California.
Here is everything you need to know about the UCLA Bruins' recruiting efforts, leading up to Feb. 5.
Top Remaining Targets
According to Matt Scalici of AL.com, Evans has narrowed his list down to Alabama, Auburn and UCLA. Evans would be a perfect fit for Anthony Barr's vacant spot. He would have the freedom to not only cover in space but also put his hand in the dirt and rush the quarterback.
He has the ability to come in and have a Myles Jack-like impact in his freshman year. He's that good. If UCLA lands him, Evans would arguably be the best recruit that Mora has signed in his tenure at UCLA.
It could also be the most impressive effort, considering the competition the Bruins are going up against and also taking into account that Evans resides in Alabama.
Dupre would fill a big position of need for the Bruins.
At 6'3", he's an acrobatic, smooth athlete with tremendous hands and speed. He would instantly impact the depth chart at wide receiver with his skill set.
LSU figures to provide tough competition for the Louisiana prospect. The hometown Tigers don't usually lose out on top in-state talent—especially to a school in the Pac-12. However, Dupre is visiting UCLA on the last weekend before signing day, per Scout.com.
With Jordan Zumwalt graduating, Young could be a perfect fit for the open middle linebacker spot in Lou Spanos' defense. Like Dupre, Young will visit UCLA on Jan. 31. The Bruins have been a constant in his recruitment, dating back to the summer.
Young would make a tremendous pairing with UCLA commitment Zach Whitley. The two would solidify the middle linebacker position for the foreseeable future.
Ron Robinson, 195 lbs, S, Santiago High School, Calif.
NaJee Toran, 265 lbs, OG, North Shore Senior High School, Texas
Zach Whitley, 225 lbs, LB, North Shore Senior High School, Texas
Adarius Pickett, 185 lbs, DB, El Cerrito Senior High School, Calif.
Jaleel Wadood, 170 lbs, S, St. John Bosco High School, Calif.
Alex Van Dyke, 205 lbs, WR, Cosumnes Oaks High School, Calif.
Denzel Fisher, 170 lbs, CB, Centennial (Compton) High School, Calif.
Ainuu Taua, 287 lbs, DL, Lompoc High School, Calif.
Cameron Griffin, 210 lbs, LB, View Park Preparatory High School, Calif.
Austin Roberts, 211 lbs, WR, Carmel High School, Ind.
Jordan Lasley, 185 lbs, WR, Junipero Serra (Gardena) High School, Calif.
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 265 lbs, DE, St. John Bosco High School, Calif.
Matt Dickerson, 275 lbs, DE, Junipero Serra (San Mateo) High School, Calif.
Dwight Williams, 205 lbs, LB, Junipero Serra (Gardena) High School, Calif.
Nathan Starks, 200 lbs, RB, Cherry Creek High School, Colo.
Marlon Mack, 195 lbs, RB, Booker High School, Fla.
Players Who Could Contribute as Freshmen
The one-time Alabama commitment got on a plane and enrolled at UCLA in time for the winter quarter, per Taylor Hamm of 247Sports.com.
Signing Whitley was massive for the Bruins. The linebacker out of Houston is an intuitive football player. He is adept at diagnosing the play and making the requisite tackle. His sideline-to-sideline pursuit is excellent.
Whitley's early enrollment will allow him to participate in spring football. He'll be able to get a leg up on the fellow freshmen from a conditioning and comfortability standpoint. He also will battle Isaako Savaiinaea for Jordan Zumwalt's vacant spot.
Wadood is a smart and savvy player. He might not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is always around the football.
He captained the top high school football program in the country this past season. In essence, he was the best player on the best team in the country.
Wadood might not start as a true freshman. It might be a bit difficult to unseat players such as Tahaan Goodman, Randall Goforth and Anthony Jefferson. However, he should be able to make an impact early in a reserve role and on special teams.
Like Whitley, Pickett is enrolling early. The depth at cornerback isn't overly deep, and there's a chance for Pickett to play in his freshman campaign.
He is skilled at using his physicality to disrupt the timing between opposing quarterbacks and defensive backs. His advantage of enrolling early should help him gain familiarity with UCLA's defensive scheme.
As a result, it will prepare him far better for fall football as opposed to entering in the summer with the rest of the true freshmen.
Storylines to Watch
Will UCLA make some noise in the South?
UCLA is in the mix for myriad players based in the Southeast portion of the country.
The aforementioned trio of Dupre, Young and Evans all come from the South. Mattrell McGraw—a high school teammate of Dupre and Young—will visit UCLA officially on the last day before signing day.
Defensive end Davon Godchaux out of Plaquemine, La. will also make the trip to Westwood on Jan. 31. Per Scout.com, talented defensive back Marlon Humphrey out of Hoover, Ala. will also visit that weekend.
Landing any of those six would be a major boon for the Bruins. It would demonstrate just how impressive UCLA's staff is at recruiting—especially if it's able to land elite recruits who reside in SEC country.
Can the Bruins sign some playmakers for Brett Hundley?
It is imperative for UCLA to sign a dynamic wide receiver. The committed trio of Jordan Lasley, Austin Roberts and Alex Van Dyke is very good. However, the Bruins need an agile, explosive playmaker with the ability to score on any given play.
The top two targets fitting the bill include Dupre and Michiah Quick. Signing one of the two would give Hundley a very nice toy to play with.
Is there a chance for the elite talent in Los Angeles?
Two of the nation's top recruits—Adoree' Jackson and John "Juju" Smith—hail from the Greater Los Angeles area. Jackson would be huge for UCLA as a receiver. As for Smith, his overall ability would likely garner him early time.
The program is attempting to make a foray onto the national stage. The act of attaining prominence becomes more feasible by keeping top talent at home. Getting Smith and/or Jackson would be a nice place to start.
Adarius Pickett was named as the East Bay Football Player of the Year. He played on offense, defense and special teams for his high school. He also hit .400 and stole 28 bases last year for the El Cerrito High School baseball team. He will also graduate from high school with a 3.9 GPA.
Wide receiver Alex Van Dyke finished his senior campaign with 54 receptions for 1,042 yards. He caught 15 touchdowns and rushed for two more.
The Los Angeles Times called safety Jaleel Wadood the most versatile and valuable player in Southern California for 2013.
Commitments Wadood and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner both hail from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif. Dwight Williams and Jordan Lasley played together at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., and Zach Whitley and NaJee Toran were high school teammates at North Shore Senior High School in Houston, Texas.