Recruiting for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team is heating up considerably.
As currently constituted, UCLA has 17 known commitments. According to Scout.com, the Bruins have the No. 7-ranked class in the country. Perhaps most impressively, UCLA's star average per commitment (3.94) is the best in the entire country.
The staff truly has capitalized on the success of the past three years. The time in Westwood has allowed the staff to also foster relationships with not only high school coaches, but also with current sophomores, juniors and seniors. The victories over Southern Cal surely have resonated with local prospects as well.
This piece will review the current climate when it comes to UCLA recruiting. It will look at visitors for this upcoming weekend and the latest commitment for the Bruins.
Visitors for this upcoming weekend
The two most interesting official visitors this weekend both hail from the state of Texas. High school teammates Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal will be in town, with the Bruins looking to make a considerable push for both.
McNeal has the ability to play multiple positions on both sides of the ball. Should he opt to sign with UCLA, expect the 4-star athlete to initially play on the defensive side of the ball. However as we've seen with Mora, he won't be afraid to put in his players on both offense and defense.
UCLA could simply opt to point out Myles Jack—which I'm sure has been brought to McNeal's attention—as a prime example of the versatility the Bruins have within their scheme from a personnel standpoint.
Jefferson is the proverbial big fish this weekend. Rated as the No. 1 linebacker in the country by Scout.com, he's an absolute freak (in the most respectful sense of the word). Earlier this past July, Jefferson was timed at 4.39 running the 40-yard dash. That is outrageous for a prospect weighing in at 225 pounds.
With Eric Kendricks headed to the NFL, there's a vacant spot within the linebacker corps. From UCLA's perspective, Jefferson would be an excellent fit.
Speaking of Kendricks, there's a similarity between the two players. The UCLA linebacker was recently named as the Butkus Award winner, which signifies him as the best linebacker in all of college football.
Ironically enough, Jefferson also won the Butkus Award as the nation's top high school 'backer. Not only did Jefferson congratulate Kendricks on his award over Twitter, but he also posted a picture of Kendricks' trophy during an in-home visit with the UCLA staff.
One would have to assume this will have an impact on Jefferson's recruitment. Another interesting wrinkle is the timing of this official visit.
Jefferson pushed back the UCLA official visit—making it his last visit before he makes his collegiate decision on Dec. 19. He is an early enrollee and will enroll at whichever college he chooses in January.
The NCAA dead period also begins on Dec. 14. This means college coaches cannot contact high school prospects until the period ends on Jan. 14.
In other words, UCLA will be the last college to "get in Jefferson's ear" before he makes his decision the following week. An impactful visit could go a long way in swaying Jefferson's decision. Additionally, his entire family will be making the trip out with him to California.
Although Texas and Texas A&M figure to be stiff competition for his services, the timing of the visit is fascinating. The amount of Texas players on the UCLA roster also could help from a familiarity standpoint.
A new commitment
UCLA's most recent commitment comes in the form of Scout.com 4-star defensive back Colin Samuel. The Long Beach Poly High School product chose the Bruins over offers from Michigan, Oklahoma and Mississippi State, among others.
The commitment fills an area of need for the Bruins. Depth at corner isn't overly great, and landing a player from a football factory such as Poly is always a positive.
Samuel represents the new-age corner in today's game. At 6'2", he's got extremely long arms and tremendous overall length. Not only that, but he's also got hips enabling him to turn in coverage and run down the field.
He does need to get physically bigger and stronger (most likely requiring a redshirt year), but the potential is there for him to be a very talented player down the line. If he continues to grow, look for him to transition to the safety position.