The Bruins not only made a surge on the football field, they also turned it up a notch in recruiting. First-year head coach Jim Mora took the Pac-12 by storm and made huge waves in his first year at the college level.
Duarte is a big steal for the Bruins on offense.
UCLA has already earned commitments from a very deep and talented class. Holding on to these players was harder than earning new commitments down the stretch. But the staff held it together.
Here's a few quick notes on the class, including the biggest steal, addressing the needs and what lies ahead with two days remaining.
Biggest Steal of the Class
This was perhaps the toughest class to pick one player for this category. Since it was so difficult I opted to pick one on each side of the ball. This is a huge compliment to the staff being so thorough with their evaluations.
Offense: Thomas Duarte
It was pretty difficult to pick Duarte over Craig Lee in this category. That said, Duarte could end up being the biggest steal for UCLA. He's got imposing size and great speed to go along with his hands. The Bruins employ a 'Y' position hybrid which fits Duarte perfectly.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound prep is very agile for a tight end and a real matchup nightmare for opposing wide receivers. He's going to be a very good one for the staff for years to come.
Craig Lee is very important in this class at his position and will have a very solid career at UCLA.
Holding on to Christian Morris was a huge battle for Klemm.
Defense: Kenneth Clark
He's dominant. And in my opinion was grossly overlooked early in the process. UCLA did a terrific job making him an early priority and locking him up by late Spring.
Clark has great size, a terrific first step and real explosion out of his stance. He will need to work on his technique as he enters the college level, but he's a tremendous body for UCLA to develop.
Addressing the Needs
UCLA had two gaping holes on the roster at offensive line and defensive back. To argue that they did anything less but lock up that position would be bollocks.
Adrian Klemm went out and locked up a good chunk of the top offensive lineman out West, in a down year. He also didn't hesitate to head east and pluck out some highly sought-after talent in Caleb Bennenoch and Christian Morris.
This was an absolute must for UCLA to not only continue their success, but build upon it moving forward.
At defensive back Demetrice Martin got it done. The commitments of Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman are the headliners, deservedly so. But Martin also added depth with Jalen Ortiz, Tyler Foreman and John Johnson. This was easily one of the best defensive back groups of any BCS level program this year and will also be crucial to the future success at UCLA.
What's Left on the Board?
UCLA is hoping to close strong with a few key targets set to announce. Kylie Fitts could perhaps be that big steal for the staff and would also be another big addition.
Eddie Vanderdoes is also looking at UCLA but the Bruins are likely on the outside looking in here.
Additionally the Bruins made a huge late play for quarterback Asiantii Woulard which will likely pay off on national signing day with a big verbal commitment.
If the Bruins can close on this group of recruits they will likely push for one of the top ten classes in the nation on signing day.
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