Oct 4, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) throws a pass against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Ones That Got Away
The 2014 recruiting cycle is the one that, in hindsight, truly hurts: missing on two players who were starting-caliber QBs in Allen and especially Kaaya left UCLA a year behind the eight ball and at the mercy of handing the job, after Hundley’s early departure to the NFL, to a true freshman rather than a redshirt freshman who at least had a full year of immersion in the program under his belt. The big tactical error in 2014 quarterback recruiting was not having that clear Plan B in place to put the full-court press on Kaaya in the event that Allen threw a curveball. The immediate realization upon his enrollment that Sharp was unsuited to be a college quarterback made the misses in 2014 sting even more.
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Even breaking down 2014 further though, one could logically say that missing out on the #1 QB in the 2014 class, Allen, had to make UCLA more appealing for the #1 QB in the 2015 class and the better overall prospect, Rosen, who saw a less cluttered depth chart and a cleaner path to early playing time without Allen alongside him on the UCLA roster. Furthermore, it is unlikely that a fringe 4-star prospect at the time like Kaaya would have stood out to Rosen as an obstacle in looking at UCLA. In a dream “what if?” scenario, having both Kaaya and Rosen on the roster for at least a season would have yielded a true quarterback competition heading into the 2015 season and given UCLA a tangible margin for error for at least one year until the loser of the competition (likely Kaaya if Rosen is everything he seems to be) decided to transfer in search of an open QB job.
However, regardless of any hindsight or application of context, the numbers on their face are stark and telling: UCLA recruited four quarterbacks from 2012 to 2014. Not a single one remains on the roster as a quarterback. When a program has a gap of four years between quarterbacks on the roster (in this case, Neuheisel and Fafaul from 2011 and Rosen from 2015), that is always going to mean that the program in question will be playing with fire once its safety net is gone and be left to hope and pray for the best.
Next: Failure To Launch