UCLA Football: Neuheisel's Best Recruiting Class (2009); Where Are They Now?
February 2009 marked the second recruiting season for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.
He captured the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation (per Scout.com).
Of the 27 UCLA commits, the Bruins landed one 5-star and eight 4-star players.
Scout rated this UCLA class higher than USC’s ninth-ranked class and signaled an end to the Trojans “monopoly” in Los Angeles. Looking back, this was not the coup d'état most analysts thought it was, or maybe Scout.com is not the best judge of talent.
Scout.com UCLA 2009 Top Commits
Here are the top UCLA commits for 2009 ranked by Scout.com:
TE Morrell Presley
CB Marlon Pollard
OG Xavier Su'a-Filo
MLB Todd Golper
QB Richard Brehaut
OG Stan Hasiak
WR Randall Carroll
DE Keenan Graham
RB Damien Thigpen
Scout 5-Star TE Morrell Presley
Scout 5-Star TE Morrell Presley is transferring.
Scout.com rated Morrell Presley with five stars and ranked him as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the country.
Morrell Presley announced that he is transferring this May.
He committed to USC, later de-committed, then flip-flopped over to UCLA. The end result speaks volumes about players who go back on their pledge to follow their ego (no matter where they commit to or de-commit from).
Scout 4-Star CB Marlon Pollard
Scout 4-Star CB Marlon Pollard transferred out of UCLA.
Scout.com rated Marlon Pollard with four stars and ranked him the No. 19 cornerback prospect in the country.
Pollard committed to UCLA, de-committed and pledged to Notre Dame, then "flipped" back to UCLA.
Scout 4-Star OG Xavier Su’a-Filo
Scout 4-Star OG Xavier Su’a-Filo left for a mission.
Scout.com rated Xavier Su'a-Filo with four stars and ranked him the No. 3 offensive guard prospect in the country.
Su'a-Filo chose UCLA, but later announced that he'll leave school for a mission. There's talk of Xavier Su'a-Filo transferring to another school after his mission. Su’a-Filo might to return to UCLA, “as long as all of the coaches are still here,” he said.
Chow and most of the other coaches are gone. Neuheisel's future is shaky.
Scout 4-Star MLB Todd Golper
Scout 4-Star MLB Todd Golper is not listed on the three-deep chart.
Scout.com rated Todd Golper with four stars and ranked him the No. 9 middle linebacker prospect in the country.
Here is the 2011 UCLA football spring depth chart for the middle-linebacker position:
1. Patrick Larimore
2. Isaiah Bowens
3. Phillip Ruhl
4. Todd Golper
Todd's talent has not been developed well.
Scout 4-Star QB Richard Brehaut
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Scout 4-Star QB Richard Brehaut is a backup to Kevin Prince.
Scout.com rated Richard Brehaut with four stars and ranked him the No. 9 quarterback prospect in the country.
A few weeks ago, coach Rick Neuheisel said this about his quarterbacks: “You got to put it on the money when the guy is open. We don’t have a quarterback yet consistent that can do that. We’ve got to find one."
Last season, Brehaut was the 252nd-rated quarterback in the nation with a NCAA pass-completed percentage of 56.1 percent. He had six touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2010. Not good. His talent has not been developed at all.
Scout 4-Star OG Stan Hasiak
Scout 4-Star OG Stan Hasiak is a backup lineman.
Scout.com rated Stan Hasiak with four stars and ranked him the No. 9 offensive guard prospect in the country.
Scout 4-Star WR Randall Carroll
Scout 4-Star WR Randall Carroll is a back-up split end.
Scout.com rated Randall Carroll with four stars ranking him as the No. 13 wide-receiver prospect in the country.
Here is the 2011 UCLA football spring depth chart for the split-end position:
1. Nelson Rosario
2-or-3. Randall Carroll or Jerry Johnson
Scout 4-Star DE Keenan Graham
Scout 4-Star DE Keenan Graham is a backup on the three-deep chart.
Scout.com rated Keenan Graham with four stars and ranked him the No. 6 defensive end prospect in the country.
Graham started half the games in 2010, but for 2011, he will be playing behind Damien Holmes.
Here is the 2011 UCLA football spring depth chart for the defensive end (right) position:
1. Damien Holmes
2. Keenan Graham
3. Wesley Flowers
Scout 4-Star RB Damien Thigpen
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Scout 4-Star RB Damien Thigpen is a backup fullback.
Scout.com rated Damien Thigpen with four stars and ranked him as the No. 33 running back prospect in the country.
Here is the 2011 UCLA football spring depth chart for the fullback position:
1. Anthony Barr
2. Damien Thigpen
Thigpen committed to Tennessee in 2008, then flipped to UCLA.
Interesting Note on Players Who Flip Their Committment
These flippers are less reliable commits.
Of the nine players who made this a spectacular class for UCLA, five flipped their commitments.
Of those five flippers, four of them have been a headache for coach Rick Neuheisel.
Two are no longer even at UCLA.
Two others have had more than their fair share of troubles.
The fifth was a running back but was converted to fullback, and now is a backup.
Flippers may be more likely to have character issues.
Top 2009 UCLA Recruits Starting: 0-for-9
"Zero-for-nine starters" is not a good percentage for top recruits of 2009
The 2009 recruits should be coming into their own. Stanford's 2009 class had one 5-star and nine 4-star players, but five of those are starting, three are backups and two are second string. More importantly, none of those top Cardinal players have transferred or left.
Bottom line: the 2009 UCLA recruits had several flippers, some who transferred and one who went on a Mormon mission. Neuheisel believes flippers are part of the process. Some analysts write that flipping is OK.
Scout Is Inaccurate
Were Scout’s 2009 team rankings inaccurate?
Should Scout consider a recruit's academic performance in the rankings?
A low-medium-high rating could be used in the ratings. After all, the NFL uses a Wonderlic Personnel Test for academic intelligence.
Should Scout consider recruits' character? Or their community service/involvement in school activities? NFL teams perform a personality evaluation and value character. FBS schools could use a similar evaluation.
Still, why did Scout rank UCLA fifth in the nation while teams like USC were ranked ninth, and Stanford was ranked 15th. Those two teams captured more top players than UCLA.
Rivals Got It Right
It is easy to understand that Scout figured that UCLA grabbed a few more 3-star players to give them a higher ranking than USC, but the Trojans captured four 5-star players compared to the Bruins' one.
Rivals got it right! Rivals' 2009 team rankings rated USC fourth and UCLA 14th.
This seems to be more accurate since none of the Bruins top nine are starting and six of USC's top 13 2009 recruits are starters. ESPN did well, too.
Don't forget that NCAA sanctions also allowed players to leave USC without penalty. Two players chose that route. USC also had a medical release and one player with academic/character issues.
USC's six starters compared to UCLA's no starters also begs the question of coaching.
It is hard to measure UCLA coaching since Norm Chow, DeWayne Walker, Chuck Bullough, Reggie Moore, Todd Howard, Tim Hauck, Carnell Lake and Frank Gansz are all no longer coaching at UCLA.
They have all been coaches under Rick Neuheisel, but one "position coach" that UCLA did not have under Rick is a tight end coach. Could be why Morrell Presley didn't develop like 2009 tight end Zach Ertz, who has emerged at Stanford under Greg Roman.
Coaches need to develop player talent, recruit players with character and win, of course.
Recruiting ranking services only need to evaluate player talent and get it right.