Snoop's son and top QB Josh Rosen highlight UCLA signing class
It's Jim Mora's second full recruiting class, and it was as "excruciating" as ever.
It began at 3:15 a.m. at an IHOP in Encino, Calif. You read that right -- pancakes in the Valley. By the time he spoke to the media late in the afternoon at the Morgan Center on UCLA's campus, 18 recruits were officially Bruins with a few more possibly on the way.
"Recruiting is excruciating," he said. "It's why I'm getting gray."
But for his newly grayed hairs, he was rewarded with a class ranked No. 4 by Scout.com. With 10 four-star recruits and four five-star recruits, the Bruins boast the highest star-rating in the nation and the top offensive line class as well. Mora conceded some battles but the ones that he won were big.
"This class exemplifies better than the other three classes the type of student athlete we want to bring to UCLA to play football," he said. "It's the intangibles that we think our really going to make them successful and help us be successful."
The headliners of the group were five-star quarterback Josh Rosen and the son of Snoop Dogg, receiver Cordell Broadus.
Rosen, out of Bellflower St. John Bosco, committed early and is already on campus for spring practices. With Brett Hundley gone, Rosen will compete for the starting job but the expectation is that he will be the Bruins' quarterback of the future.
"I think today, kind of lost in the shuffle, was Josh Rosen," Mora said. "It was such an exciting day because there were these new names and these new commitments. Unfortunately because of the hype, but fortunately for us, it was kind of a little bit under the radar. But you can't take away from the fact that this class includes the No. 1 ranked quarterback and the Rivals No. 1 ranked football player in the United States of America."
The splashiest signing of the day was undoubtedly Broadus. Even though his dad is a notorious USC fan, the four-star receiver felt that UCLA was the best fit, possibly because he's known Mora for a few years.
"I first got a chance to meet Cordell when he was 15 years old on the (intramural) field. Coach (Eric Yarber) was coaching him up in a drill and he says, 'Hey Jim, you've got to come and see this kid. He's 15 years old and in ninth grade and man, he's a heck of an athlete,'" Mora said. "I see this kid, this good-looking young man, put together with athletic build. Very coachable, I watched him interact with Yarbs, I liked the way he ran routes and I liked the way he competed.
"I surprised myself -- I was new to this game -- by offering a 15-year-old. I remember going home and telling Shannon. I go, 'You can't believe what I just did.'"
It wasn't until the next day that Mora discovered his famous parent.
"And then I really said, 'You can't believe what I just did."
Mora said that he earned that scholarship on his own merit: "He stands on his own."
His father will likely stand next to fellow rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, defensive back Justin Combs' dad, at the Rose Bowl on Saturdays.
Offensive line: Hundley had a carousel of offensive linemen, and coach Adrian Klemm showed his creativity with the line the last few seasons. The Bruins finally have a group of five they can grow and develop to give Rosen the stability behind center that Hundley never really had.
Zach Bateman, a transfer from Orange Coast College, and Tevita Halalilo, a 6-4, 320-pound guard from Moreno Valley Rancho Verde High School are high on Mora's list.
"This is a heck of a group," Mora said. "When I watch (Halalilo) play, he plays with a certain amount of violence that as a football coach, you respect."
Running backs: The Bruins signed two players with very different styles. Sotonye Jamabo, a threat to catch out of the backfield from Plano, Texas, and Bolu Olorunfunmi out of Clovis, who Mora says knows how to take a hit.
"Jamabo is just a tremendous talent. He's tall, he's fast, he's physical, he can run between the tackles, he can hit the edge and he can take it home," Mora said. "Olorunfunmi - one of the great names when you're talking about a running back... He has contact balance, which means he can take a hit and he can move towards the other team's goal line. We're really excited about those two guys."
Receivers: UCLA has depth at the receiver position, and there's a few defensive backs that they might convert to wide receiver and vice versa. The tight end position has been lacking since 6-foot-7 Joseph Fauria graduated, but with 6-6 Chris Clark coming in from Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, they have a top-shelf threat once again.
"The fight to the finish was our tight end, Chris Clark," Mora said. "It's something that we're very desperately looking for, that's a big, athletic tight end that is very versatile."
Defensive line: This was where UCLA lost the battle, as only one defensive lineman, Long Beach Poly's Rick Wade, will join UCLA next season.
"We missed on some young men we really wanted," Mora said. "It's not like we're devoid of depth, but that's something that we'll have to address."
Linebackers: UCLA has turned out some top linebackers in recent years and Josh Woods out of Upland High and Keisean Lucier-South from Orange Lutheran are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt.
"We've been building a relationship with Keisean and his family for a long, long time and it culminated today when he signed that National Letter of Intent," Mora said. "This is a 6-5, 225 pound athlete playing basketball that moved so artfully, it was incredible to watch."
Defensive backs: Mora brought in a big group - five defensive backs - and big is exactly what he wanted.
"I like a bigger, longer corner. I like to play bump-and-run," Mora said. "We're bringing in DeChaun Holiday who is a tremendous corner and is someone who is going to help us play the way that we want to play."