Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins recently garnered two important commitments in the form of quarterback Aaron Sharp and offensive tackle Kolton Miller, while they also secured the transfer of offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche.
Bunche will transfer to UCLA from the University of Miami. The 6'7", 327-pound behemoth redshirted during his time in Coral Gables and thus has one year of eligibility remaining. He will be eligible to play right away for the Bruins in 2014.
The addition of Bunche is massive for the Bruins. Stalwart offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo decided to enter the NFL Draft. Su'a-Filo was not only UCLA's best lineman, he was also the most experienced member of the group. His leadership qualities helped to hold together a unit which included three true freshmen.
The fifth-year senior should be able to step in and provide the Bruins with some much-needed experience. Bunche will be a tremendously valuable asset for UCLA. He's able to play both as a guard and as a tackle. The versatility should, in theory, allow the Bruins to play their top five linemen.
Bunche is a massive individual from a physical standpoint. One won't find many college linemen bigger than the Newark, Del. native. He's an absolute mauler in the run game, but also has the feet required to be a solid option at a tackle spot.
Starting left tackle Simon Goines has been saddled by leg injuries throughout his time in Westwood. Starting right tackle Torian White not only suffered a season-ending leg injury in 2013, but was also plagued by a legal issue.
In other words, Bunche will provide cover in the event that Goines or White aren't fully capable next season.
If Goines and White are fully healthy, Bunche could slot in at a vacant guard spot. Sophomore Alex Redmond will likely assume the starting role at left guard. The right guard spot would likely involve Bunche and rising sophomore Caleb Benenoch.
Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald interviewed Bunche's father, Curtis. The elder Bunche commented on how Malcolm found UCLA's campus to be "breathtaking." He also mentioned, "[UCLA] needs an O-lineman to protect that Heisman Trophy candidate's blind side." The potential Heisman Trophy candidate is, of course, Brett Hundley.
The experience of the UCLA staff also played an integral part in Bunche choosing to enroll at UCLA.
Sharp's decision to become a Bruin was significant for a number of reasons.
For one, depth at the position isn't great. This upcoming year, in all likelihood, will be the last one with Hundley as the stating signal-caller. It'd be an absolute shock to see Hundley return for his senior season.
Aside from Hundley, Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard are the only other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. As such, it was imperative for UCLA to grab a quarterback in this cycle.
Sharp was committed to Utah and Kansas State previously, before opting for UCLA. He's an absolutely fantastic athlete. The Houston Chronicle named Sharp as its high school boys track athlete of the year in 2013. Sharp won three gold medals at the 4A state meet and helped Summer Creek High School capture the team title.
The dynamic athlete also won the 200-meter dash at the state meet. According to Sharp's Hudl account, the Humble, Tex. native runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. His shuttle time is 4.1 seconds and Sharp's 400-meter time is 47.50 seconds.
Essentially, UCLA's new quarterback is one of the fastest high school runners in the entire state of Texas.
The 6'3", 190-pound signal-caller doesn't possess great arm strength. He has a shorter, compact delivery which somewhat hinders his ability to spin the ball. However, Sharp has demonstrated marvelous touch and accuracy with his throws. By watching his highlights, it's not difficult to see the delicate loft he can place on intermediate throws.
Miller is a very nice player. At 6'8", he's got great arm length and height for the tackle position.
The Roseville, Calif. native has impressive athleticism and bend for a player of his stature. He's not a lumbering, road-grader type of lineman. On the contrary, he's an athletic prospect with very good mobility and lateral quickness.
Miller still does need to fill out a bit and get stronger. However, his upside is immense.
The Bruins did quite well with the additions of Bunche, Sharp and Miller. With two weeks until signing day, expect plenty of activity in Westwood when it comes to recruiting.