UCLA Prospect Watch – Offense

UCLA is in a precarious position right now, with several contributing factors making this class a very important one. First, USC’s recruiting efforts have not slowed – and actually seem to have increased – under the new regime, making the in-state battles all the more difficult. Second, the retirement of Nik Abele due to injury causes even more need on the line, which was already a position of need. Third, UCLA could only have around 14-17 scholarships to hand out.

At quarterback, Rick Neuheisel and Co. are targeting several quarterbacks, and most likely trying to land two, if not three. Scout.com’s Brandon Huffman told me Jerry Neuheisel would likely greyshirt and count toward the class of ’12, but they’d still want two. The Bruins have six offers out to quarterbacks, including the recently committed Max Wittek. UCLA covets the No. 4 prospect, Kiehl Frazier, from Arkansas, but with 24 offers and no list of favorites, it’s much too early to tell where they stand on him. In a relatively weak class out west, the Bruins have only offered Wittek and Brett Hundley. Additionally, UCLA has offers to No. 1 QB Braxton Miller(a long, long, LONG shot), Marquise Williams , and Stephen Rivers, Philip’s younger brother, and an intriguing possibility given Norm Chow’s work with the elder.

“If the last two years are any indicator, they probably won’t offer any other quarterback until the one-day camp in June,” Huffman said. “Two years ago, they didn’t offer to Brehaut until Memorial Day weekend. Last year, they didn’t offer Nottingham until the end of June.”

UCLA also has several other targets, including Kyle Boehm, Cody Kessler, Trevor Gretzky and Michael Bercovici, whose Taft High coach Matt Kerstetter called the best quarterback he’s coached.

“I think it will be one from the upper tier and maybe one from the second tier,” Huffman said. “Gretzky is the most likely one in that second tier, just because he didn’t have all that game experience. Same with Michael Bercovicci; neither of those guys have a lot of film. Those are the kinds of guys where I see them taking an upper-tier guy early and then a guy like this second. Kyle Boehm and Cody Kessler are upper-tier guys, but (UCLA wants) to see more. Boehm is a guy they just want to see more of – he only had 600 yards last year because they run so much, but he’s camped there the last two years, planning on the one-day camp in June and he’s gotten double-digit offers. Same with Kessler. But he’s not a guy they need to see a whole lot more of.”

Though quarterback seems to be the highest priority among fans, offensive line should also be of chief concern for the Bruins (this coming from a former lineman). The loss of Nik Abele is absolutely crushing; they had huge hopes for him and invested a lot of time and effort in his development.

Only one small problem…

“The problem is, this might be the weakest year California has seen on the line that you’ve ever seen,” Huffman said.

The Bruins have offered three Arizona recruits – Andre Yruretagoyena, Cyrus Hobbi and Christian Westerman – and just one in California, Isaac Luatua.

Hobbi looks the most promising, given his relationship with a future Bruin. Another one to watch is Crenshaw’s Marcus Martin, who is an absolute beast and just picked up an offer from Washington.

“The thing with Hobbi is he and Kody Innes played together last year in high school,” Huffman said. “But now LSU has offered him, and he’ll probably get a USC offer, so UCLA will have a lot of work cut out for them. A guy I really think they ought to go after more are Siaosi Aiono and Marcus Martin from Crenshaw. Both of those guys are very good linemen, but they’re guards, and UCLA needs tackles.”

The transition of Morrell Presley from tight end to F-back creates a need at tight end, and the Bruins are still huge on Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

“Seferian-Jenkins is the one they really like; he got an early verbal offer from the staff before they’d even been there a full year,” Huffman said. “If he ends up picking another school, I could see them making a bigger push for Troy Niklas from Servite and Dillon Van Der Wal from Oaks Christian. Like most Servite guys, I think he’s looking to see where he could be at USC. For Seferian-Jenkins, it’s a Washington, Florida, UCLA battle, but I think UCLA and Florida are in the best position with him. He could commit before the season starts if not sooner.”

USC’s absolutely stunning haul at the skill positions last year gives some hope that UCLA can land some major targets, simply because of the numbers across town. While Serra’s George Farmer a near-lock for the Trojans, UCLA is spreading its interest around.

“He’s such a lock there that other recruits are looking at him going there – I’d be surprised if he picked anywhere else,” Huffman said. “When they have the opportunity to tell Kenny Stills, a top-5 wideout last year, ‘We don’t need you,’ wow. I mean, any other year Victor Blackwell has an offer from USC at this point, but he’s high-interest. You have Blackwell, Devon Blackmon and Junior Pomeefrom Rancho Verde who is a big-time UCLA lean. He’s in that Morrell Presley mode. They need to bring in a minimum of two receivers this year. They could end up with that trifecta of Blackwell, Devon Blackmon and Pomee.”

But Huffman says another prospect piques his interest.

Devon Lucien at Crespi who I love could end up getting that position as well,” Huffman said. “Lucien is very much in the Ricky Marvray mode. He’ll catch everything, he’ll battle for everything, he’s very physically strong. The thing he lacks is elite breakaway speed, but he still has that speed.”

With a standout running back class in ’10, the need isn’t as pressing in the backfield, but they’d make (Mamba) and exception (Mamba) or two (Mamba…and Harvey Langi).

“If they can get Mamba, (otherwise known as DeAnthony Thomas) they’ll take him anywhere,” Huffman said. “Running back is not a huge pressing need this year, however if Mamba or Harvey Langi would come, they’d certainly make room for them. UCLA has offered Mamba as an athlete, too. They see him potentially playing in the spot or playing DB or in some kind of playmaker role. I would say 60-40 USC right now. Maybe 59-39 and two percent he goes out of LA.”

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  • Anonymous

    EXCELLENT story. I really enjoyed reading this and it gave me a pretty clear idea of who I should be watching for in the upcoming year. I really hope we can land a couple of solid lineman like Hobbi and Luatua. If we could get hundley as well that would be great. Let’s see how good of a closer Rick is with Jenkins, and I really think that we should be good at wideout between Pomee and Blackwell. The way this class gets to be elite though would be with Thomas. He and Farmar are the Dietrich Rileys of this class, let’s see if Rick can show em something this year to make them take a look at UCLA!

  • Sunset Bruin

    Great article, Jon. Thanks for the info.

  • MaltBaa

    my productivity suffers at work when put stuff like this up jon

  • hicalliber

    Great article…Brandon Huffman is easily the most knowledgeable reporter when it comes to UCLA recruiting. I really hope we can pull in some big uglies because I feel like everything else is coming together.

  • Anonymous

    I’m concerned about the lack of great Offensive Linemen out west. Jon, do you or Brandon Huffman have any theory as to why there’s been an obvious trend in recent years of there simply being virtually no elite O-Linemen in California?

    It’s a big, BIG problem, and I’m worried that the only way for UCLA to overcome that weak-point on the roster is to win LOTS of games and recruit nationally. I’m glad that Coach Neuheisel is starting to show an ability to recruit skill positions nationally, but I wonder what makes those big guys in Big Ten and SEC country not even consider leaving home most of the time? Is it the arrogance that a lot of skill position players have around the country, that they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread? I know that was the attitude in high school when I was playing against other schools with self-proclaimed superstars.

    In my opinion, a dream 2011 class would consist of 6 elite O-linemen, 4 strong DTs, a couple QBs and a couple other players. Obviously it’s an impossible dream. But it’s what’s necessary to take that next step. Dorrell absolutely decimated the quality of our lines and set us back 10-15 years. Our UCLA team as a whole is TALENTED, but missing the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage. If that can happen in the next couple years, we will win the Pac-10 and win 10 games in a season.

  • Ryan

    Why not bring Jerry Neuheisel in as a walk-on?

  • Anonymous

    How about more info on Darius Bell?

  • BigTime Bruin

    From a very very very close source to ucla bball, twins to ucla


  • 10 yr drought

    You got to be kidding me? In last 10 yrs, which teams developed QB’s worse than UCLA? Washington St? Why would you play for old man Chow…he will be gone, and did nothing.

    Let’s here the excuses why this year QB situation sucked again.

    Never thought I’d see the day defense was consistently better than our offense….what is this, fifth year in a row!!!

  • Blue Bruin

    Goldie, give us news on the Wear twins! I can’t take it any more…

  • cerritosbruin

    My hope is that the NCAA infractions will deter any serious footballers from considering to play at suc and commit to UCLA.

    Even better, what if members of this year’s class de-commit and go elsewhere in the Pac-10 to stick it to Kiffin for lying to them!


    cerritosbruin- I’d be lying if I said I didn’t second that emotion…However, I think CRN has proven he can recruit with the best of ’em and stand alone…If we as UCLA fans saw any of USC’s commits/leans change their minds and hence ink with UCLA, that particular slap in the face to the “dicks” would be absolutely priceless!

  • MaltBaa

    Jon, so scot wolf has reported the Wear twins to UCLA.. Is this true?

  • Reality bites

    Jon, this post is solid gold. Will you have a similar report from Huffman for the Defensive prospects?

  • pk-in-the mesa

    Wow 14 thats all don’t worry the Weasie will lets go some seniors to be just like he has down the last 2 years. But you guys still Suck anyway and alwaays will, plus you have the Wear twins oversized sf that have no inside or PF skills. Lose On bRuins

  • cerritosbruin

    Hey pk-in-the mesa…

    Your post makes no sense. I love how it just shows the quality of fan usc attracts.

    Lose on Trogans!