Monday, January 7, 2013
UW, UCLA continue to compete for recruits
By Mason Kelley
UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. and Washington's Steve Sarkisian have a natural recruiting rivalry.
SEATTLE -- Take a look at the ESPN.com 2013 football class rankings and it should come as little surprise Washington and UCLA sit side-by-side.
The Huskies (No. 19) and Bruins (No. 20) have been targeting a similar set of prospects throughout this recruiting cycle.
This budding recruiting rivalry started early and will run through signing day with each program experiencing its share of hits and misses.
With UCLA coach Jim Mora’s ties to the Northwest and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian’s connection to California, it should come as no surprise the programs have targeted many of the same recruits.
The rivalry took center stage again over the weekend with several prospects picking between the two programs during televised all-star games.
It started with tight end Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) picking the Bruins during the NFL Network broadcast of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
Later in the broadcast, the Huskies edged the Bruins for four-star receiver John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan). One day later, Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) committed to Washington at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Like Ross, UCLA was a finalist for the four-star defensive end.
Whether it was UCLA commits Jalen Ortiz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial), John Lopez (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) and former Washington commit Poasi Moala (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) or Huskies commits Troy Williams (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), Sean Constantine (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) and Damore’ea Stringfellow (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), the two programs have gone head-to-head since the Bruins hired Mora more than a year ago.
Washington helped its cause in this evolving rivalry when it recently hired Marques Tuiasosopo away from UCLA. The former Huskies quarterback returned to the state he starred in during both high school and college to be Washington’s quarterbacks coach, and he should help the program’s recruiting efforts in Washington and California.
As each program prepares for the stretch run before signing day, there are still several recruits considering both programs.
Myles Jack (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) committed to UCLA in June. Tuiasosopo was instrumental in the linebacker’s decision. With visits planned to both schools in addition to trips to Arizona State and Oregon, each program will get one more chance to earn a commitment.
Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, rated the No. 33 prospect in the ESPN 300, has UCLA and Washington among his final five. And standout defensive backs Patrick Enewally (Cerritos, Calif./Gahr) and Jermaine Kelly (Los Angeles/Salesian) -- a former UCLA commit -- also list the Huskies and Bruins among their finalists.
With recruits considering both programs to be on the rise, the two schools will continue going after the top prospects on the West Coast. The 2013 class is only the beginning of this rivalry.