JG: Who else is a guy that UCLA needs to zero in on and not let go?
BH: “I would say a guy like Travis Averill from Servite. Guy comes from one of the best-coached programs in the state, can play tackle and play guard. UCLA can’t afford to lose him. They cant lose a Travis Averill to a Boise State. He may be a three-star now, but did you watch the draft? Guys drafted in the first round who were two- or three-stars were all offensive linemen. Some guys develop differently. A Jordan Simmons would be great, but more realistically, Erik Magnusson is a guy they should really focus on. Kwayde Miller doesn’t have an offer yet, but he likes UCLA, and Lacy Westbrook, that’s a guy they need. A Westbrook, an Averill, a Magnusson, even a Max Tuerk. Those are guys UCLA needs to put the press on.”
JG: What about tight end? Wide receiver?
BH: “They’ve got to get a tight end. I don’t know John Young is going to be a pass-catching tight end. He’s going to be more in the Cory Harkey mold, Ryan Moya, Marceded Lewis, even though Marcedes could catch. Raymond Nelson has a chance to be a good tight for them. But between then who? Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is one of those key recruits. Can block, can run, is a top kid nationally. He could end up growing out of tight end and be a tackle, but he’d be an athletic offensive lineman at that. He becomes huge for them. Christo Kourtzidis has offers from Florida, Florida State, Alabama. Taylor McNamara. Ian Taubler is a guy like Raymond Nelson. But Cope-Fitzpatrick is certainly one of their key offensive targets.”
JG: I’m always surprised at UCLA’s wide receiver recruiting, especially compared to the success at the position across town. What can UCLA do to crack into that?
BH: Not just get them but utilize them, and that’s different at USC. They really do reload. Just being on the roster at a certain position at some schools will get you a look in the league. UCLA hasn’t had one since Craig Bragg, but you really gotta go back to Freddy Mitchell. Who in the last five years? Terrence Austin? And it took him until junior year to be a stud. They haven’t had reasons for wide receivers to want to go there. These kids, they don’t know who Freddy Mitchell is, and if they do, it’s because he got embarrassed in the NFL. It’s like, I might not be Mike Williams, but I can be Steve Smith. You have a track record, and that’s where guys want to go play. That’s how USC gets 11 running backs who are four or five stars at one time. UCLA is here selling, “I’m going to be the next Craig Bragg or Tab Perry?”
JG: What other positions does UCLA need to attack? I say defensive back. Who do they need there? Ishmael Adams? Any other last mentions?
BH: Ishmael Adams, definitely. That’s a kid who’s been in SoCal for a year but is from the south, most of his offers are from the west coast, and he doesn’t come out here with preconceived notions. UCLA really needs to sell him on the future. Adams is a guy you definitely want to get. You have to continue to build ties with Southland corners. He can theoretically be starting as a redshirt freshman. Kevon Seymour has offers from Pac-12 powers, and UCLA is selling it as, “Hey dude, you’re going to be playing five minutes from your house. They’ve put a lot of pressure into Brandon Beaver and Alphonso Marsh, but they need to go after Adams and Seymour, too. Gabriel Marks, they’ve done a good job of proving to them they’re into him – he’s one guy that’s up there. I would say they really need to keep pushing on Scott Starr, but he’s waiting to see what USC does. USC is in the position there they can take their time, but I also think UCLA, if they accelerate recruitment, could ward off an SC offer.”
JG: Talk about the UCLA/USC recruiting situation. Is UCLA sitting back and waiting on the USC sanction appeal process too much?
BH: “UCLA has got enough problems that they can’t sit back and wait on the NCAA. They need to be recruiting now. They have to show their face. They can’t wait. The reality is, the NCAA pushes things back farther and farther. Then you’re in August or September and you’ve squandered all summer. I don’t think UCLA can afford to sit back and weight.”