On Tuesday, UCLA Football received a commitment from a player who looks to be a potential diamond in the rough, as it was revealed that the previously unknown Jon Gaines (Milwaukee, WI/Marquette) plans to sign for UCLA tomorrow on Signing Day.
In need of offensive linemen on a team with only eight scholarship linemen remaining on the team, Chip Kelly and his staff have been searching under every rock trying to unearth potential gems that might have gone unnoticed in the 2018 recruiting cycle.
For an FBS-level recruit to go so far under that radar that he didn’t even have a profile on 24/7 Sports before today despite having multiple FBS offers, that recruit has to keep things incredibly close to the vest. And indeed that was the case with Jon Gaines, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Milwaukee who will be signing with UCLA on Wednesday after one of the most mysterious recruitments in living memory.
Gaines maintained basically no profile on social media (an absolute rarity for a recruit in this day and age), attended no major camps, and basically maintained a HUDL page and a NCSA profile and waited for coaches to find him instead of being actively engaged in the chaos of the modern recruiting process. He committed to Northern Illinois quietly before his senior season and just as quietly decommitted in early November in order to keep all his options open as a high-level recruit with outstanding academics.
He basically just enjoyed his life as a high school football player. And a very good high school player he was, as he showed himself to be athletic and mobile with great bend and tremendous tenacity, especially as a run blocker. In one of his games, he went heads-up against Wisconsin’s defensive player of the year and a Wisconsin commit. Gaines toyed with the Big Ten-caliber player:
Even the way Gaines announced his commitment to UCLA was remarkably low-key. He simply changed his bio on his rarely-used Instagram page to read “UCLA Football Commit” and waited for someone in the local media to notice it, which happened this morning on the eve of Signing Day.
Bringing in Gaines, especially in the manner they did, is a huge coup for the Bruins and a great indicator of their scouting prowess under the new regime, as his signing will add depth to an offensive line class that is currently the most uncertain part of the class heading into Signing Day.
UCLA is currently waiting with bated breath for the Signing Day announcement of its most crucial remaining recruit, 4-star offensive tackle Jarrett Patterson (Mission Viejo, CA/Mission Viejo), who will choose tomorrow morning between the Bruins and Notre Dame.
Just as important, though, is the precarious situation involving its best current offensive line commit, 4-star guard/center Chris Murray (Santa Ana, CA/Mater Dei), whose unbelievable saga was detailed by 24/7 West Coast recruiting guru Greg Biggins detailed on the West Coast Unplugged Podcast (Episode from February 6th, starting at the 11 minute mark) and will likely prevent him from signing with the Bruins tomorrow or possibly at any point.
By signing Gaines, UCLA football will at least know it has three signings firmly entrenched in the class heading into Wednesday: Gaines, 3-star tackle Alec Anderson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Etiwanda), and 3- star guard Baraka Beckett (Pacific Palisades, CA/Palisades). But how the offensive line class is ultimately judged will hinge on signing the blue-chip headliners of the class, Patterson and Murray.
Welcome to Westwood, Jon!