Jim Mora and his crack recruiting coaching staff have helped lift the UCLA Bruins above USC, Oregon and Washington to the top recruiting class in the Pac-12.
Barring some unforeseen 11th-hour developments, the UCLA Bruins are poised to put together the best recruiting class in the Pac-12. The USC Trojans are too restricted by scholarship limits, the Oregon Ducks are scrambling to contain the Chip Kelly fallout, the Washington Huskies are performing well but not quite on UCLA's level, and the Stanford Cardinal are comfortable with bringing in a small class.
So, it's UCLA poised to win the Pac-12 recruiting race this season. The Bruins seem set to capitalize on a 9-5 season that saw them come up a few snaps short of a Rose Bowl bid in Jim Mora's first year.
When Mora took over in Westwood, there were worries about how ready he'd be to coach on the collegiate level. But he hasn't had to worry too much about the coaching aspect, as Mora quickly assembled a staff of bright, young coaches with excellent recruiting prowess that allowed him to manage and not have to worry too much about excelling as a coach.
Angus McClure has been on the Bruins' staff for six years and is well-respected in the Northern California region. McClure helped land some great players from Sacramento, the Central Valley and the Bay Area, like defensive back Marcus Rios, tight end Ian Taubler, wide receiver Kenneth Walker, and defensive ends Eli Ankou and Nate Iese.
This year, McClure is working on some big prizes. He already has helped flip Tyler Foreman from Wisconsin back to UCLA and is doing his best to try and flip two former USC commits in defensive end Kylie Fitts and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.
Mora also lured Adrian Klemm away from SMU, and he's done a lot of the heavily lifting outside of California. Klemm is a top, young offensive line coach and a talented recruiter that really resonates with the young uglies, and it's paid dividends for UCLA. Klemm found athlete Kenny Orjioke in Georgia and offensive lineman Simon Goines in Texas last year. This season, Klemm managed to secure offensive lineman Christian Morris from Tennessee, offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch and wide receiver Eldridge Massington (a former USC commit) from Texas, and offensive lineman Kenny Lacy from Arizona.
More importantly for the long-term success of the Bruins offense, Klemm rebuilt an underacheiving offensive line with over a dozen names the past two years. Klemm managed to land Alex Redmond, Scott Quessenberry, John Lopez and Poasi Moala, along with Morris, Lacy and Benenoch, giving the Bruins perhaps the most complete, deep offensive line on the West Coast in this recruiting class. UCLA's offensive line was much improved in Klemm's first year, and they're poised to continue the upward improvement next season.
With regards to offensive line, Lacy is one of the top offensive tackles in the West and is very good at defeating edge rushers one-on-one. Redmond is one of the top offensive guards in the country and along with Benenoch figures to be opening up running holes inside. Quessenberry is the top center available in the West who should give UCLA a field general at that position. Lopez is also another top offensive guard target from the O.C.
However, perhaps Mora's biggest hire recruiting-wise was landing defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin from Washington, and Martin has proved himself to be a formidable recruiter. Last year, Martin helped secure Ellis McCarthy from Cal and flipped Jeremy Castro from Oregon to UCLA in the process. With a year on the job, though, Martin has really ramped up his game. He teamed up with McClure to flip Foreman. Over the past week, he's managed to secure the commitments of the most talented secondary quartet in the West Coast, as Priest Willis, Johnny Johnson and Tahaan Goodman all joined Foreman. Just for good measure, he added running back Craig Lee, defensive tackle Kenneth Clark and linebacker Deon Hollins Jr.
Willis is undoubtedly the prize of the secondary. He has the versatility to play safety and cornerback and could be a plug-and-play player depending on where the Bruins need him. Goodman isn't too far behind, though, as he undoubtedly has the skills to play corner but the hitting technique to play safety. He will almost certainly play safety in college. Foreman isn't a bad third option either to have at safety, and Johnson is one of the best cover corners on the West Coast.
UCLA has plenty of great recruits in this class. And now that it appears that the Bruins have the coaching to match, they could be poised for a special season in 2013.