UCLA Football: Power Ranking the Bruins' Top 5 Classes of the BCS Era
The UCLA Bruins have had varying success in regards to recruiting during the 15-year BCS period.
A lull definitely existed in the Karl Dorrell era. A lack of high-profile signings also occurred towards the end of the Bob Toledo regime. Rick Neuheisel helped the Bruins' recruiting to spike upwards quickly, but the efforts magnificently deteriorated with the lack of winning on a consistent basis.
Lastly, Jim Mora has taken UCLA football recruiting to unseen heights during his short tenure in Westwood.
This piece will rank UCLA's recruiting during the BCS era (1998-2013). The top-five list will be based on how highly regarded the class was at the time, as well as the quality of athletes ultimately produced from these individual classes.
Here's a look at the top-five recruiting classes for the UCLA Bruins in the BCS era.
No. 5: 2012 Class
Jim Mora's first class has set the foundation for the current state of the football team. While not chock-full of superstars, this group has multiple stalwarts starting for UCLA.
Randall Goforth, Ishmael Adams and Fabian Moreau make up three-quarters of the starting secondary for the Bruins. Goforth in particular has proven to be a stabilizing force for the young unit.
Both Rivals.com and Scout.com had Ellis McCarthy rated as a 5-star prospect. The much ballyhooed recruit has been steadily improving, and should be a big contributor in 2014. Starting wide outs Jordan Payton and Devin Fuller also come from this class, along with projected starting left tackle Simon Goines.
UCLA suffered some misfortune in regards to Javon Williams and Jeremy Castro. Neither made it into school, and thus ended up elsewhere. Up to this point, Aaron Porter has not developed into any sort of a contributor. He's been a relative disappointment based on his Scout.com 4-star ranking.
No. 4: 2002 Class
The 2002 group is a tremendous class on paper. It is easily one of the most hyped collection of signees in potentially the history of the program.
It ultimately turned out to be one of the most underachieving classes from an on-field perspective.
The star of the class was Marcedes Lewis. A Long Beach Poly alum, Lewis is arguably the best tight end to ever play at the school. He was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior. He also won the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. Lewis has had a productive career in the NFL—which includes a Pro Bowl appearance in 2010.
Aside from Lewis, kicker Justin Medlock, safety Jarrad Page, linebacker Justin London and quarterback Drew Olson all were solid contributors.
However, the remainder of the class truly did fail to reach expectations. Wide receiver Idris Moss ultimately transferred to Tulsa, and talented prospect Antwuan Smith failed to qualify. Glenn Ohaeri, Matt Moore and Joe Garcia all transferred out of the program as well.
Eric McNeal wasn't a standout by any stretch during his time in Westwood. However, he did make one of the most memorable plays in UCLA football history.
No. 3: 2010 Class
The 2010 class produced integral defensive fixtures from this year's team.
Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, Cassius Marsh and Eric Kendricks all came from this class. Anthony Jefferson, Seali'i Epenesa, Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Jordon James also were members of the 2010 group.
UCLA did experience some misses—both due to injuries and transfers. Heralded recruit Dietrich Riley was forced to medically retire due to neck and shoulder injuries. Injuries also forced the same fate for tight end John Young, and offensive linemen Wade Yandall and Chris Ward.
Kip Smith, Tevin McDonald, Derrick Bryant and Wesley Flowers all transferred out. Malcolm Jones also never lived up to the massive hype he brought from Oaks Christian High School.
No. 2: 2013 Class
Based purely on rankings, the 2013 class could be the best collection of talent ever signed by UCLA.
Myles Jack, Isaako Savaiinaea, Kenny Clark, Eddie Vanderdoes, Sean Covington, Thomas Duarte, Alex Redmond, Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry all started this season for the Bruins. The depth this class has is downright scary.
The 2012 class has produced multiple starters. However, the starters from this class are far superior when it comes to overall talent. Jack, Clark and Vanderdoes all have the potential to be high NFL draft picks one day. Redmond and Benenoch should contend for All-Pac-12 honors as sophomores.
The only real disappointment in this class comes in the form of Christian Morris. He opted to transfer to Ole Miss, closer to his hometown of Memphis. It's far too early to truthfully determine whether other members of the class are misses.
Redshirt freshmen such as Asiantii Woulard, Craig Lee and Poasi Moala all have vast upsides, as do Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman.
In a few years, this class could easily be looked upon as the best in the BCS era for the Bruins.
No. 1: 2008 Class
The 2008 class brought eight future NFL players to the UCLA roster. The 23-man class also was predominantly made up of prospects from the state of California, and more specifically, the Southern California region.
Johnathan Franklin is the most prolific rusher in UCLA history. Datone Jones was a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers this past year. Tony Dye, Rahim Moore, Jeff Locke, Derrick Coleman, Cory Harkey and Jeff Baca all played important roles during their respective times in Westwood.
Aaron Hester, Jerry Johnson, Damien Holmes and Nelson Rosario also were contributors.
The class had few misses as a whole. Highly-touted running back Aundre Dean did end up transferring back to his home state of Texas. Safeties E.J. Woods and Antwon Moutra also did not end up panning out.
Regardless, this was an extremely deep and talented class.