BOOM! Top UCLA WR Recruit Theo Howard Commits To The Bruins


Oct 31, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Thomas Duarte (front) runs the ball down the field during the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rose Bowl. The UCLA Bruins won 35-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA secured the commitment of one of the country’s elite wide receiver talents on Sunday, as it filled its need for receiving speed with the pledge of 4-star wide receiver Theo Howard.

Coming into the 2016 recruiting class, which stands to be one of the best collections of Southern California wide receiver talents in modern memory, UCLA football had one major need: speed. With a roster chock full of large-bodied possession receivers, the Bruins desperately needed an infusion of elite speed that could make defenses adjust the way they defend the UCLA offense. After today, the Bruins can consider that need filled, as 4-star wide receiver and speed demon Theo Howard (Westlake Village, CA/Westlake) did what many in local recruiting circles long expected him to do and committed to UCLA.

With his absolutely blazing speed (running a 4.38 40-yard-dash in the spring at the Oakland Nike Camp), Howard has elicited comparisons to former USC standout Marqise Lee, but in terms of skills, style, and body type, Howard compares very well to former Colorado star (and briefly, a UCLA enrollee) Paul Richardson. If Howard is half as good at UCLA as Richardson was at CU, then some fireworks are on the way at the Rose Bowl.

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The impact of Howard’s commitment cannot be overstated. He has emerged as either the best or second best receiver recruit in the Southland, depending on how highly one rates USC commit Tyler Vaughns. Howard is, without a doubt, the highest-rated receiver to commit to the Bruins since Jim Mora has been at the helm. And with Josh Rosen taking the snaps for the Bruins through at least the 2017 season, Howard is likely to have his speed put to good use since Bruin fans have seen how much Rosen likes to test defenses deep. When a receiver enters the fold whose talents align perfectly with the incumbent ascending superstar quarterback, you have the potential for magic on the gridiron that the UCLA offense has been bereft of for some time.

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Howard wanted to commit now to his school of choice in order to initiate the process of enrolling early at that school, so Bruin fans should look forward to having the chance to catch him in spring practice.

They should also feel comfortable knowing that Howard’s commitment is pretty locked in given that he’s already decommitted from one school (Oregon) during this recruiting cycle in order to play his college ball closer to home and that his other local option, USC, will most likely not have its new head coach and his staff fully locked into place until mere days before Howard is scheduled to enroll at UCLA, giving them little time to put the full-court press on him in hopes of flipping him.

Furthermore, Howard is reportedly very tight with UCLA wide receivers coach and primary recruiter Eric Yarber, so that’s yet another reason why Howard seems like a pretty safe bet to follow through on his commitment to UCLA.

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In terms of broader impact on the class, Howard joins 3-star slot WR Demetric Felton (Temecula, CA/Great Oak), 4-star athlete Darian Owens (Fresno, CA/Clovis West, and (once his experiment at quarterback is over) 4-star WR Dymond Lee (West Hills, CA/Chaminade) as the current receiver commits in the 2016 class. However, the Bruins are expecting to add to that group as Signing Day nears, with 4-star Javon McKinley (Corona, CA/Centennial), 4-star Steffon McKnight (San Diego, CA/Mira Mesa), 4-star Damian Alloway (Fontana, CA/Summit), and 3-star Adewale Omotosho (Plano, TX/East) standing out as the top targets still in UCLA’s sights. Even former UCLA commit and current USC pledge Michael Pittman (Westlake, CA/Oaks Christian), a 4-star athlete who is a friend of Howard’s from the same town and a recent visitor to a UCLA practice, looms as a potential flip back to the Bruins should the Trojans not bring in a satisfactory coaching staff.

With a limited number of scholarships still available in the class, the ultimate composition of the incoming receiver group is likely to come down to a game of musical chairs, with the remaining uncommitted receiver recruits and soft commit Darian Owens all possessing the potential to either join UCLA or feel squeezed out of the class and turn attention elsewhere. It will be fascinating to see the twists and turns yet to come with receiver recruiting, but Bruin fans can rest assured that the position’s biggest need was filled today by UCLA’s top receiving target in this class.

Welcome to Westwood, Theo!