Had a chance to chat with Scout.com West Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman, who’s working his way back from a brutal two-week stretch of just an insane amount of work. Props to Huffman for talking even though his voice still sounded like Vito Corleone. Eh, whatever, I made him offer he couldn’t refuse.
Here’s a breakdown of some of UCLA’s remaining targets: Check it Out
Gold: Not a lot of time left, and UCLA went 0-for-4 during the all-star games; should they have braced themselves for this?
Huffman: “I don’t think they were expecting a class like last year or the year before, just from a pure number standpoint. They don’t have a lot of scholarships to give. I dont think they ever expected a top-10 class or anything. But where they’re hurting is losing guys. You take Marc Mustoe. Not a killer loss, not a SoCal kid. Losing Brandin Cooks hurts, he was their first commitment, a guy in a position of need where they haven’t had a lot of good talent at. They didn’t do a good job recruiting there the later Dorrell years. It’s a position they have a lot of bodies at, but Cooks was the guy I thought could be an impact guy. Now they have to try to hold on to Torian White. (Those are) guys you wouldve thought were locked. But it just looks like they’re not getting the elite guys, and there aren’t a lot left.”
Gold: Yeah, but after two 4-8 seasons in three years, that can’t be too much of a surprise…
Huffman: “You’re absolutely right. Based upon what they’ve done on the field, you wonder how they’re able to pull in these elite guys. He pulls in an Owa on signing day, Marsh in the 11th hour, Josh Shirley late. They get some guys that you’d expect the 10-2, 11-1 teams to get. When it gets down toward signing day, it’s not a surpirse they’re not in it for a lot of those guys.”
Gold: So where do they go from here? Could you envision a small class, or would they go and offer guys who really weren’t at their level, whatever that may be?
Huffman: “The danger when you have a lot of scholarships left – and this is something Dorrell did and you’re seeing the effect – instead of storing them, you feel this need to fill all those scholarships. The problem is, you get to a class when you need those scholarships and you don’t have them. The wisest thing to do would be to take a gamble on one, two, three guys at the most. You need those scholarships for impact guys.
If you don’t, now you’re putting them back even more. I don’t think Neuheisel is looking at it like that. I think he’s thinking at it as I’m only going to use the scholarships for players who can play at this level.”
Gold: So it’s getting pretty late for some of the guys that UCLA is still in the running for, guys like Stefan McClure, Christian Heyward, Kevin McReynolds, etc.
Huffman: “The guy they’re doing the best on is McClure. I’d be surprised if he picks somewhere else. But he was feeling pretty good with Colorado with Ashley Ambrose, and with Ambrose at Cal, thats another obstacle. Christian Heyward, UCLA has fallen back with him, but he still plans to visit. Now he might look at Michigan and they need a defensive tackle, and there’s SDSU still. Kevin McReynolds is showing interest in Oregon, which can say, hey we just played in the national title game. With all these obstacles that UCLA has to overcome, it’s going to be tough.”
Gold: Obviously getting in a guy like Brett Hundley cures a lot of ills, but besides a few positions, UCLA seems to be hurting for players.
Huffman: “I definitely think UCLA is hurting at some positions. They just haven’t gotten the productivity out of the guys, and they’ve been playing a lot, so the younger guys are kind of waiting. And players talk to other players. That kind of stuff gets back to recruits. If they’re not using the guys who are there its, ‘How do I know that I’m going to get the fair shake?’ If not Hundley, its bordering on disaster. Its still not good, but youre talking about the titanic without Hundley.”