UCLA Football 2018 National Signing Day Recap


National Signing Day is coming to a close and for the UCLA football team, this has been one of the most exciting recruiting classes in a long time. Though some things still need to be addressed, overall, Chip Kelly brought in a very impressive 2018 recruiting class.

What a day UCLA football fans! National Signing Day 2018 has come and it was very impressive what new head coach Chip Kelly and his crew have done to bring in a top 20 class.

RELATED: UCLA Football 2018 National Signing Day Live Tracker and Blog

With the transition from Jim Mora to Kelly, recruiting was a bit rocky. With Kelly shaping his team, some recruits felt it best to decommit. UCLA lost a lot of good players, but Kelly has also been able to land a few surprises.

Though he did not land any five-star recruits, he found what he was looking for with the players that can now be called Bruins.

National Letter of Intents Received

  • 4* QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson 6’1, 195 lbs., Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 4* ATH Bryan Addison 6’5, 180 lbs., Junipero Serra HS (Gardena, CA)
  • 4* WR Chase Cota 6’3, 195 lbs., South Medford HS (Medford, OR)
  • 4* LB Bo Calvert 6’3, 218 lbs., Oaks Christian HS (Westlake Village, CA)
  • 4* S Stephan Blaylock 5’10, 185 lbs., St. John Bosco HS (Bellflower, CA)
  • 4* OG Chris Murray 6’3″, 300 lbs. (Mater Dei/Santa Ana, CA)
  • 4* TE Michael Ezeike 6’5, 220 lbs., Colony (Ontario, CA)
  • 4* DE Elijah Wade 6’5, 240 lbs., Arbor View (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 4* WR Kyle Phillips 5’11, 176 lbs., San Marcos HS (San Marcos, CA)
  • 4* DT Tyler Manoa 6’5, 260 lbs., St. Francis (Mountain View, CA)
  • 3* RB Kazmeir Allen 5’10, 185 lbs., Tulare Union HS (Tulare, CA)
  • 3* WR Delon Hurt 6’0, 190 lbs., Servite (Anaheim, CA)
  • 3* TE Matt Alaimo 6’5, 235 lbs., St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, NJ)
  • 3* CB Rayshad Williams 6’4, 183 lbs., Whitehaven (Memphis, TN)
  • 3* DT Otito Ogbonnia 6’3, 300 lbs., Taylor (Katy, TX)
  • 3* S Kenny Churchwell 6’2, 180 lbs., Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, AZ)
  • 3* ATH Patrick Jolly 6’1, 177 lbs., Newsome HS (Lithia, FL)
  • 3* OT Alec Anderson 6’5, 283 lbs., Etiwanda HS (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
  • 3* DE Steven Mason 6’8, 250 lbs., Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA)
  • 3* CB Elisha Guidry 6’0, 177 lbs., Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, CA)
  • 3* S Je’Vari Anderson 6’0, 220 lbs., Laney College (Oakland, CA)
  • 3* TE David Priebe 6’6, 212 lbs. Midway (Waco, TX)
  • 3* OT Jon Gaines 6’5, 270 lbs. Marquette (Milwaukee, WI)
  • 3* RB Martell Irby 5’8 204 lbs., Morse (San Diego, CA)
  • 3* DT Antonio Mafi 6’3, 360 lbs., Junipero Serra HS (San Mateo, CA)
  • 3* OG Baraka Beckett 6’4, 280 lbs., Palisades (Pacific Palisades, CA)
  • 3* LB Tyree Thompson 6’3, 235 lbs., L.A. Valley College (Van Nuys, CA)

During the early signing period, UCLA inked eight players, so the fact that they currently have 27, shows how much work Kelly and his staff put into their first recruiting class.

The day started before 7 a.m. PT. At that point, UCLA had already received five national letters of intent which officially made Jolly, Alaimo, Priebe, Gaines and Churchill Bruins. Throughout the day, information would come out, mostly on social media about the Bruins’ efforts and though there were a few set backs, overall the class is loaded.

Loaded on Offense

It was a long day and didn’t help that the announcement from Dorian Thompson-Robinson came later than expected, as word of his NLI was not announced until after 4 p.m. Though UCLA fans were getting a bit edgy, it all worked out as planned.

So the QB position was set, how about the rest of the team?

The coaches did a heck of a job landing nine NLIs from non-offensive line players. UCLA has two speedsters with Allen and Irby in the backfield. For those catching passes, the Bruins got seven receivers and tight ends, highlighted by 4-star recruits Addison, Cota, Phillips and Ezeike. Ezeike was the late surprise today as he chose UCLA over USC and Oregon.

An Offensive Line

UCLA had five recruits before Mora was terminated. Now they have two. This was a group in need of bodies and the Bruins could not pull off late commitments. Anderson, Beckett and Gaines fit Kelly’s system, but it might take some time to develop them.

Still, with the depth so thin on this side of the line, they could get a shot sooner than later. It just would have been nice to grab a few more. Expect this part of the recruiting plan to be taken up a notch by next NSD.

UPDATE: After the publication of this article, 4-star OG Chris Murray, who was expected to sign elsewhere, turned in his NLI to UCLA, sticking with his commitment. Clearly, this is a boost for the offensive line, though the Bruin coaches need to pound the pavement heading into next NSD.

Overachieving on Defense

The defensive line is going to be one of the most feared in a few seasons. Kelly and DL coach Vince Oghobaase not only took in a lot of players, but all of them have some sort of aggressive instinct which will be needed in DC Jerry Azzinaro’s defense. Two of the bigger names are Wade and Manoa, who like DTR, Manoa waited until later in the day to send in his NLI, which in turn caused Bruins fans to sweat a bit.

The secondary also overachieved as they landed five defensive backs. Under Mora, UCLA had consistently had incredible secondaries. That tradition looks to continue as these crop of young players will keep UCLA’s defense aggressive for seasons to come.

Thin in the Middle

Just like the offensive line, the Bruins really needed to thicken up their linebacking corps and like the O-line, they were not able to meet that challenge. The coaches were only able to get  commits from a Calvert, a player they flipped from USC back in the early signing period, and Thompson, who just this week flipped from Vanderbilt to UCLA. Still, they are very talented players that should excel under LB coach Don Pellum, the Bruins just have to figure to how to work the LBs in the 3-4 defense.

Next: The 30 Greatest UCLA Football Players of All-Time

This was a very solid class and one that will help the Bruins to be competitive with a new offense and defense next season. Though it may take a while for things to really get off the ground, Kelly and Co. have showed they are taking this thing seriously. Is it September yet?