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UCLA Football: Coach Mora's Biggest National Signing Day Battles

Jason FrayCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2014

UCLA Football: Coach Mora's Biggest National Signing Day Battles

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    With about a week until signing day, the UCLA Bruins and Jim Mora are heavily in the midst of battling other prominent programs for the signatures of elite recruits. 

    Some of the competition is to be expected. Fellow Pac-12 foe Washington and crosstown rival Southern Cal are going head-to-head with the Bruins during this final stretch.

    Perhaps surprising to some, the Bruins are fiercely engaged in various recruiting wars against SEC teams such as Alabama, Auburn and LSU.  

    This piece will list the top five institutions UCLA is currently battling against for high-profile prospects. It will also delve into the specific recruits the Bruins would love to sign. 

     

    *All recruiting rankings come courtesy of 247Sports.com

Washington

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    UCLA is in a heated battle with Washington for 4-star athlete Budda Baker

    Baker is a dynamic player. The 5'9" speedster has the ability to play both as a safety and also as a wide receiver. He's also a very good kick returner, both on punts and kickoffs. 

    He hails from Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Wash. The school itself is in very close proximity to the University of Washington. Chris Petersen would love to sign Baker. He would easily be the biggest recruiting coup to date for the new UW head man. 

    Baker visited Washington officially on Jan. 17, and he took his last official visit to UCLA on Jan. 24. In a picture courtesy of BruinReportOnline.com, it appears as if Baker had a great time on the visit. 

    The hometown angle provided by the Huskies could be tough to beat. However, there is some familiarity with Baker and UCLA. Baker's former high school teammate is current UCLA player Myles Jack. 

Oklahoma

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Mora and Bob Stoops are going toe-to-toe for elite wide receiver Michiah Quick out of Central East High School in Fresno, Calif. 

    The talented skill player would instantly impact UCLA's depth chart at the receiver position. There's a general lack of speed and quicknesstwo characteristics Quick brings in droves. 

    At this point, Oklahoma appears to be out in front. Two of Quick's former high school teammates—Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore—both play for the Sooners. He's also taken an official visit to Norman earlier in the season. 

    However, UCLA does get the last chance to impress. Per Scout.com, Quick will visit UCLA officially on Jan. 31—the last weekend before signing day. 

The State of Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    It isn't often when UCLA is battling the likes of Alabama and Auburn for a top player. 

    The occurrence is made even more rare by the fact the recruit in question resides in Auburn, Ala.

    Elite linebacker Rashaan Evans has narrowed his list down to UCLA, Auburn and Alabama. A top-15 player nationally, Evans would instantly vie for playing time at Anthony Barr's vacated spot. 

    Evans was scheduled to visit UCLA unofficially on Jan. 31. Per Matt Scalici of AL.com, those plans have since been scratched. I wouldn't necessarily look at the situation as a negative from UCLA's perspective. Hypothetically speaking, Evans would likely have been inundated by immense pressure locally had he taken the trip. 

    It is truly astounding that UCLA has more than a puncher's chance at landing Evans—especially considering the competition and the area from which the said recruit resides.

    Should Mora win out here, it'll validate the notion of him being one of the top recruiting head coaches in the country. 

LSU

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Bruins and Tigers will be battling against one another for multiple recruits. 

    Both UCLA and LSU are in hot pursuit of high school teammates Kenny Young and Malachi Dupre. Dupre and Young both attend famed John Curtis Christian High School in the New Orleans area. 

    Starting wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry both made themselves available for the 2014 NFL draft. LSU is in desperate need of an elite talent at the position, and Dupre more than fits the bill. 

    It will not be easy for UCLA to pull two highly regarded recruits from right in LSU's proverbial backyard. Les Miles will do everything in his power to make sure top talent stays at home in the Bayou. 

    Fortunantely for UCLA, both Dupre and Young will take their last official visits to UCLA on Jan. 31. 

Southern Cal

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    No one should be shocked at the proposition of UCLA and Southern Cal going head-to-head for elite local talent.

    With Mora considerably upping the profile of the program, it has become more of an even rivalry—perhaps with UCLA holding the upper hand at this point. 

    No longer are the days of Southern Cal handpicking the top talent in the state, leaving UCLA with the unwanted scraps. 

    The Bruins and Trojans are both hotly in pursuit of Damien Mama, John "Juju" Smith, Bryce Dixon and Adoree' Jackson. The quartet all reside in the greater Los Angeles area. 

    Mama will forgo his schedule official visit to BYU and will instead take his last trip to UCLA, as reported by Greg Biggins of Scout.com. It is a massive development for the Bruins, who were thought to be on the outside looking in on the talented offensive lineman. 

    Dixon, a Southern Cal commitment, will also visit UCLA officially on Jan. 31. This is per Blair Angulo of WeAreSC.com.

    It should be a very fascinating last week. Should UCLA land one or even multiple members of this group, it could enhance a budding rivalry between the two staffs on the recruiting trails even further. 

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