LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: Jim Mora speaks at a press conference introducing him as head UCLA football coach at the J.D. Morgan Center at UCLA on December 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
UCLA's recruiting has picked up under Jim Mora Jr.
Jim Mora was hired in mid-December, and he quickly retained Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin, and Steve Broussard to begin recruiting. Although Rick Neuheisel had built a deep class, Mora essentially determined to start over. The results so far have been better than expected, particularly due to the recruiting skills of Klemm, Martin and Broussard, as well as Mora's apparent endless amount of energy.
Of the recruits that Mora saved from Neuheisel's class, none are more important than four-star MLB Aaron Porter and three-star guard Lacy Westbrook. Porter does have a visit with Oklahoma scheduled, but all signs point towards him being a Bruin. Westbrook is a borderline four-star and is loaded with potential. Mora also retained three-star safety Trayvon Watson, three-star cornerback Shannon Edwards, three-star running back Steven Lakalaka, two-star cornerback Jerico Richardson, and two-star kicker Kai'mi Fairburn. Edwards has elite speed and has the potential to be a surprise after a redshirt year, and Fairburn was an absolute necessity considering the woes of UCLA's FG situation last season.
Mora's first recruit was four-star cornerback Marcus Rios. The lanky corner flipped from Boise St., introducing a trend of things to come under Mora's staff. Five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy and four-star cornerback Ismael Adams then flipped from California, three-star running back Tairen Owens and three-star safety Taylor Lagace flipped from Washington, three-star quarterback Kevin Millweard flipped from Arizona St., and four-star linebacker Jeremy Castro flipped from Oregon. McCarthy is the best defensive tackle prospect to come to Westwood since Brian Price. He's 6'5 300 lbs and quick enough to play end. Adams was the MVP of the Army All-Star Game and has teamed with Rios to form a pair of extremely active Bruin recruiters. Owens is explosive with the ball and should provide immediate production in the return game, while Lagace may end up at safety or at WR. Millweard followed offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone from Arizona St. At 6'5 205 lbs., he'll provide plenty of competition with Brett Hundley for the quarterback spot in the future. Castro, the latest to flip, is an explosive linebacker with very good pass rushing skills.
The other players currently committed to the program are three-star JC offensive tackle Alexandru Ceachir, three-star center Carl Hulick, three-star offensive tackle Colby Cyburt, three-star OLB/S Kenny Orjioke, three-star fullback/defensive tackle Christian Powell, three-star athlete Nate Lese, and two-star cornerback Justin Combs. Combs is the son of none other than P.Diddy, and he has been a wonderful Bruin on the recruiting front to date. Ceachir is a Russian native that is relatviely new to football. He's already enrolled, and could be special with good coaching. Cyburt has a lot of talent, but he needs to put on good weight. Orjioke, Powell and Iese are all very gifted athletes that are versatile enough to fit in to different positions depending on need.
Moving forward, UCLA has a legitimate shot at a number of highly ranked prospects. Most notably, five-star safety Shaq Thompson and five-star WR Bryce Treggs are both looking at UCLA following Tosh Lupoi's exit from California, as are other former California commits four-star receiver Jordan Payton, four-star defensive tackle Aziz Shittu, and to a lesser extent, five-star lineman Arik Armstead. Others currently in the mix are four-star linebacker Seth Jacobs, four-star WR Kodi Whitfield, four-star quarterback Devin Fuller, three-star receiver/cornerback Randall Goforth, three-star offensive tackle Simon Goines, three-star athlete Kenny Walker, three-star linebacker Jeremy Allison and three-star receiver Javon Williams. Signing day will be hectic in Westwood, and the Bruins faithful are definitely anxious to see how it plays out.