UCLA Football Recruiting: 2016 Offensive Big Board 1.0

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Sep 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) receives the snap against the UNLV Rebels during the third quarter at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Having just finished the 2015 regular season, UCLA football now can turn its full attention to recruiting and putting the finishing touches on its 2016 class. With 18 of the spaces in the class already filled, the Bruins will only be looking to take a few more players to finish things off and have a few high-profile targets in mind for those last few spots.

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With the 47th President of the United States Josh Rosen already starting (and excelling) as a true freshman quarterback in 2015 and given the modern recruiting environment in which top quarterback recruits step on campus expecting to play not too long after arriving, the Bruins were never likely to grab an elite QB prospect in the 2016 class. Most 4- and 5-star kids just wouldn’t want to bide their time sitting behind Rosen for (at least) two years, even if that might be the best recipe for developing most quarterbacks.

As a result, UCLA went for raw upside in pursuing its 2016 QB, landing 3-star dual-threat QB Matt Lynch (Broomfield, CO/Legacy). Lynch has intriguing physical tools, with a 6-foot-5 frame, solid arm strength, and really nice speed in the open field.

However, Lynch is the definition of a project: his throwing mechanics are in need of an almost complete overhaul and his quarterbacking instincts need to be properly calibrated. Right now, Lynch is an athlete playing quarterback rather than a quarterback with athleticism, and that will have to evolve in order for UCLA’s gamble on his physical talent to pay off. He’s about as boom-or-bust as it gets, with a floor that’s FCS-level and an upside that’s All-Pac-12 level.

UCLA’s father-son combo of offensive coordinator Noel and UCLA quarterbacks coach Taylor Mazzone has shown a lot of faith in their quarterback development skills by selecting Lynch over a safer bet with a higher floor but a lower ceiling like Nebraska commit Patrick O’Brien (San Juan Capistrano, CA/San Juan Hills).

It’s a bet that could determine the course of UCLA football’s immediate future, with no quarterback depth whatsoever existing behind Rosen after the loss of Jerry Neuheisel to graduation. Lynch will immediately be in the three-deep at QB the moment he steps on campus, which is a scary proposition for such an unrefined product. Obviously, for numerous reasons, UCLA would prefer to keep Rosen upright for the next two seasons; one of those reasons is to give Lynch a proper chance to undergo his hopefully considerable development outside the spotlight before Lynch gets his shot to start in 2018.

In addition to Lynch, the Bruins have promised 4-star commit Dymond Lee (West Hills, CA/Chaminade) that the first position he’ll get to try once on campus will be his preferred one of quarterback, but Lee is likely to end up at wide receiver down the road. He’s absolutely electric in the open field, has good hands, and has remarkable body control and concentration when elevating for jump balls.

With an essentially barren quarterback depth chart which currently consists of Rosen as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, the Bruins would love to get one more quarterback on board in this class to fill out that depth chart. However, given that most quarterbacks commit to their chosen school by the spring before their senior seasons, the available pickings are slim with less than two months to go before Signing Day in early February. It will be very interesting to see whether UCLA is able to track down one more quarterback in this class to push fellow true freshmen Lynch and Lee in the future.

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