UCLA lands second 2018 commit, Bishop Amat DL Aaron Maldonado

Bishop Amat defensive lineman Aaron Maldonado announced his verbal commitment to UCLA on Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound prospect was the Mission League Defensive MVP as a junior last year. He also had offers from Hawai’i, Cal, BYU and Boise State and is a three-star recruit, according to Scout.com.

Maldonado is UCLA’s second commitment for the 2018 class, joining safety Jhevon Hill.

The defensive lineman’s junior-year highlights:

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UCLA lands first commit for class of 2018

Three-star safety Jhevon Hill became UCLA’s first commit for the class of 2018 on Wednesday, announcing his pledge to join the Bruins on Twitter.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound safety from Cajon High also had offers from Cal, Utah and Washington State. He is a three-sport athlete, playing basketball and participating in track and field, where he competes in the triple and high jumps.

Cajon advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinals last year, losing to Redondo.

Hill’s junior highlights:

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How UCLA landed four-star OL Stephan Zabié

Four-star offensive lineman Stephan Zabie committed to UCLA on National Signing Day on ESPNU.

UCLA got an early morning present on National Signing Day last Wednesday when four-star offensive lineman Stephan Zabié put on his UCLA hat at about 6 a.m. PT on ESPNU.

Zabié was UCLA’s only new Signing Day commit as the rest of the 18-man class had previously announced their commitments before signing on Feb. 1.

Head coach Jim Mora described the recruiting of the 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive lineman was “fast and furious,” as Zabié didn’t get an offer from the Bruins until Jan. 18. UCLA hadn’t even hired its offensive line coach when Zabié took his official visit to campus.

However, the Bruins were able to keep the prospect away from in-state Texas with the help of new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. Mora said Fisch was critical in landing Zabié as the coach had a previous relationship with the player and his family.

Zabié is both an intriguing and important pick up for the Bruins. Bolstering an offensive line that suffered from injuries and depth issues was of utmost importance. Zabié was one of five offensive linemen to sign last Wednesday. Continue reading “How UCLA landed four-star OL Stephan Zabié” »

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How UCLA’s newest recruiting class stacks up to previous years

Buena Park High defensive back Elijah Gates is part of an 18-player UCLA recruiting class that was heavy on defense and offensive linemen. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG)

Six weeks ago, UCLA’s recruiting class was 47th in the nation, according to Scout. By the end of the Signing Day festivities, the Bruins had vaulted up to 21st.

UCLA made major moves in the month of January to make up for its slow start to the recruiting cycle to end up with the third-best class in the Pac-12, but the haul is the worst in the Jim Mora era, according to rankings from Scout and Rivals.

Continue reading “How UCLA’s newest recruiting class stacks up to previous years” »

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UCLA wraps up 2017 recruiting class

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UCLA recruiting class broken down by state. Graphic by Thuc Nhi Nguyen/SCNG

UCLA announced its sixth recruiting class under head coach Jim Mora on Wednesday, an 18-player haul that includes two five-star studs and five offensive linemen.

The group, headlined by defensive stars Jaelan Phillips and Darnay Holmes, is ranked 21st in the country by Rivals and Scout and 18th by ESPN. It addressed several needs for UCLA (defensive line, secondary, offensive line), but lacks many playmakers on offense.

Mora said the staff felt confident in its young roster at running back and receiver, which was why the Bruins didn’t end up signing anyone at those positions. The coach admitted the staff was targeting one receiver who ended up falling through. UCLA returns all five running backs who took carries last year and lost only Kenny Walker and Ishmael Adams from the receiving corps.

UCLA graduated six regular starters on defense, including three on the defensive line. Adding Phillips, Odua Isibor, Greg Rogers and Martin Andrus was an important step in reloading the unit.

“I think our potential is limitless,” Phillips said of the defensive line recruits. “I think we can do a lot of great things together. Obviously it’s this 2017 class, but it’s people in the last class, it’s people in the class before that. … I think it’s going to be special.”

In the secondary, UCLA lost Fabian Moreau, Randall Goforth, Tahaan Goodman and Marcus Rios. Holmes leads what is likely one of the best defensive back classes in the country. Of UCLA’s four other defensive backs, two are four-star recruits according to Scout (Elijah Gates and Jaylan Shaw) and two are three-stars (Quentin Lake and Morrell Osling).

“We definitely have a great class coming in,” Holmes said. “It’s probably the best defensive back group I’ve played with in my whole entire life. I just can’t wait to compete against these guys each and every day and get to working with them after practice.”

The Calabasas High product is especially excited to join Gates, his childhood friend, in the defensive backfield after they played pop warner football together.

“We have some championships to get,” Holmes said with a smile.

Links to wrap up the Signing Day coverage:

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