With National Signing Day under a week away, UCLA football is set to bring in one of its best recruiting classes in history. Already a top-five class nationally, the Bruins are still likely to bring in a few more commits before the dust settles on the 2013 recruiting class.
Of those talents still on the board is running back Cornelius Elder, a four-star recruit recruit out of Nashville, TN, that’s listed as the 17th-best running back in the country on ESPN’s rankings.
Currently, it’s apparent that Ohio State and UCLA are locked in a tight battle for Elder’s signature on February 6, but ESPN predicts that he’s a UCLA commit waiting to happen, while Scout lists his interest as “high.”
Most recently, he’s taking visits to Auburn and Georgia Tech, so it’s possible that a couple other schools come into the fore for his services. It’s also worth noting that Purdue has also offered Elder a scholarship … in basketball.
The offer is being taken seriously so the end result is that no one wins the recruiting battle for the running back — which means that everyone loses.
Let’s look at some game-tape to familiarize ourselves with the 5-foot-10, 170-pound tailback out of Tennessee:
As it shows in the film, it appears that Elder is a fast, shifty running back with solid breakaway speed. He bursts through holes quickly and buys himself space in tight squeezes, an attribute that can do no harm. What this video isn’t showing is Elder’s ability to run as a power back, taking contact and battling through the first tackle attempts. He doesn’t get touched often in this video, so it’s unclear if he’s prone to go down pretty easily after the first hit.
The scouting reports seem to back this notion up — many comment on his elusiveness and ability to make sweet jump-cuts but a lot downplay his ability to pound inside and some even question the punishment he can take given his frame and current size. Indeed, they seem to agree that Elder is a speedy back that can work well in space — think Steven Manfro — and could be a good option in a spread offense.
This makes sense and it fits the mold of what offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone wants to do with his skill players — put them in open space and rely on their athleticism and elusiveness to burst open for big plays. We’ve yet to see Mazzone work in a power running game consistently.
So it only makes sense that the primary recruiter for Elder’s services is indeed Mazzone, and it seems as if the interest is mutual.
UCLA has depth issues that need to be addressed, too, especially with senior Johnathan Franklin leaving and with Damien Thigpen’s future as an every-down back in question due to a torn ACL. Adding Elder — along with current UCLA commit Craig Lee — might address that issue.
Just like every other depth issue this coaching staff has addressed on the recruiting trail.