UCLA gets tougher, bounces back with elite recruiting class
LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA was pushed around in losses to rival Southern California to end the regular season and Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl. Coach Jim Mora believes the Bruins started the process of pushing back by adding a 29-man recruiting class Wednesday with an emphasis on physicality.
In a class regarded as Top 10 by Scout and Rivals, UCLA signed three offensive linemen, six defensive linemen and three linebackers.
''When you look at the class as a whole, we filled a lot of needs, so I am excited about it,'' Mora said. ''We added size and we added quality size.''
Mora once again closed strong with out-of-state prospects, bringing in players from Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Tennessee. The Bruins also finished well on signing day by adding six commitments capped by five-star linebacker Mique Juarez.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: Mique Juarez, LB, Torrance, California. Juarez, who was previously committed to the Trojans, could replace Myles Jack as a versatile outside linebacker capable of defending slot receivers and tight ends.
Best of the rest: Brandon Burton, DB, Gardena, California. Mora finally cracked the Serra-to-USC pipeline by landing Burton, a four-star prospect who could contribute on offense or defense. Making recruiting inroads into a high school that has produced Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Adoree Jackson can help UCLA vault into college football's elite.
Late addition: Boss Tagaloa, DL, Concord, California. UCLA struggled to stop the run even before standout lineman Kenny Clark declared for the NFL draft, so there will be opportunities for the 6-foot-1 300-pound Tagaloa to help shore up the middle of the Bruins defense.
One that got away: Devin Asiasi, TE, Concord, California. New offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu plans to feature tight ends and fullbacks in a more physical scheme that could echo defending Pac-12 champion Stanford, but that wasn't enough to keep Tagaloa's high school teammate from signing with former Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
How they'll fit in: After losing four of the top five receivers from quarterback Josh Rosen's promising freshman season, UCLA will need immediate contributions from early enrollee Theo Howard and the other new receivers. Mora also identified tight end Jordan Wilson and the special teams battery of snapper Johnny Den Bleyker, punter Austin Kent and kicker JJ Molson among players who should see the field early.
For the full list: http://www.uclabruins.com