Here’s what UCLA football fans need to know for early signing day

UCLA caught up with the great after taking extraordinary measures to get him back in the pool.

Dante Moore’s surprise turnaround after the esteemed quarterback originally signed for Oregon has drastically improved the Bruins’ recruiting class. Imagine going from economy in the last row with no seat backs to first class with made-to-order hot fudge sundaes.

“I mean, it radically changes it and I don’t know how to overdo it,” said Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, who ranked Moore as the top high school player in his class. “It puts UCLA on the map. I mean, that’s a kid that you’re using on social media right now, everyone knows who that kid is, and I think it kind of sent a shockwave, so it’s just a perception. Suddenly people think that’s the only reason UCLA is relevant.”

Moore, a five-star nominee from Detroit King High, has ranked the Bruins class 22nd in the nation, according to 247Sports. He’s the highest-rated prospective coach Chip Kelly has ever hired — including his four seasons in Oregon that ended in big bowl games — and was one of 14 players who signed on Tuesday, the eve of early signing day, Wednesday for that UCLA hired.

Moore becomes a bruin after Kelly and his staff brought him onto campus extremely late in the recruitment cycle and sold him the enticing opportunity at a school he once didn’t even rank in his top 10.

Here are five questions the Bruins face ahead of early signing day:

So how good is this guy?

UCLA football players greet fans as they leave the field after a 42-32 win over Utah at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA football players greet fans as they leave the field after a 42-32 win over Utah at the Rose Bowl October 8.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Moore may not only be the best high school quarterback in the nation, but also the most ready for the college game.

A pro quarterback known as a straight passer, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Moore led his high school team to two state titles and played in every major postseason event.

“In terms of mental aptitude and football IQ,” said Biggins, “he’s spot on [former UCLA standout] Josh Rosen, who was able to come in and start as a real freshman, so I think he definitely has a chance.”

Assuming no other quarterback is traded, Moore will need to beat an impressive lineup of candidates to earn the first snap in UCLA’s 2023 season opener against Coastal Carolina. Collin Schlee, a transfer from Kent State, is ranked the fourth best transfer quarterback in the 247Sports rankings. Ethan Garbers has looked promising in the few games he’s played as Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s backup. Justyn Martin has impressed in practice with his poise and possesses a strong arm.

Who else is coming?

Norco receiver Grant Gray escapes the grip of Chaminade cornerback Frankie Washington.

Norco wide receiver Grant Gray scores for a touchdown against Chaminade during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 first round playoff game on November 8, 2019.

(Steve Galluzzo / For the Times)

Contrary to the massive excitement surrounding Moore, this isn’t a one-man class.

The other most sought-after players are likely to be Jeremiah McClure, a wide receiver from Chula Vista Mater Dei High, and Grant Gray, a wide receiver from Norco. Both players are four-star prospects.

The class is heavily made up of wide receivers, quarterbacks, safeties, and linebackers, with two of each. The other quarterback is Luke Duncan, a three-star prospect from Orinda Miramonte.

Who might come later?

Gardena Serra's Rodrick Pleasant has used his blistering course speed to his advantage as a top cornerback.

Gardena Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant has used his blistering course speed to his advantage as a top cornerback.

(Nick Koza)

The Bruins remain in contention for Rodrick Pleasant, a four-star cornerback from Gardena Serra, and Leviticus Su’a, a four-star linebacker from Santa Ana Mater Dei, among others.

Pleasant isn’t expected to sign with his chosen team until February.

Which holes remain?

Purdue wide receiver David Bell celebrates a touchdown with offensive lineman Spencer Holstege.

Purdue wide receiver David Bell (3) celebrates a touchdown with offensive lineman Spencer Holstege (75) on Nov. 6, 2021. Holstege transfers to UCLA.

(Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

UCLA’s offensive line needs some serious reinforcement.

Biggins said the team lost all six offensive linemen it brought to campus in May. Currently, Tavake Tuikolovatu, an offensive tackle from Fontana Summit, is the only offensive lineman engaged with the Bruins.

As always, UCLA is busy adding parts via the transfer portal. The Bruins already have a signing from Purdue guard Spencer Holstege, a former Honorable Mention All-Big Ten pick.

Their late spring 0-fer could be a net win if the Bruins can find some finds in the portal.

“All these guys are better than the high school guys they missed,” Biggins said. “We’re sitting here getting a little bit familiar with the Transfer Portal U philosophy, but these Portal kids are better and they’re obviously more ready to play than the high school boys, so maybe we should take a step back and say, ‘Maybe they have up to something, especially if they have multiple years of entitlement.”

Who else comes into the portal?

Oregon tight end Moliki Matavao runs the ball against Eastern Washington.

Tight end Moliki Matavao carries the ball for Oregon against Eastern Washington on Sept. 10. Matavao announced his transfer commitment to the Bruins on Tuesday.

(Andy Nelson/Associated Press)

UCLA scored another big hit on Tuesday when Oregon tight end Moliki Matavao announced his commitment to the Bruins.

The other transfers, as part of a class that seems to be growing by the day, are Army running back Anthony Adkins; Oluwafemi Oladejo, a linebacker from California; and Jake Heimlicher, an edge rusher from Penn, in addition to Schlee and Holstege.

Biggins said the Portal players are the safe bets compared to their high school counterparts.

“They essentially take the guessing out of the way, because no matter how good a high school player is, you’re still guessing if they’re going to be able to compete at the collegiate level,” Biggins said. “Even Dante Moore – you hope he’ll be a star, but you never know.

“But when you’re having a kid who’s already starting at the college level for two years, there’s no guesswork. You’ve actually already seen that he can play for several years in college, so skip the guessing game and it’s a safe bet because he’s already done it. Maybe that’s what you’ll do as you progress.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2022-12-20/ucla-recruiting-early-signing-day Here’s what UCLA football fans need to know for early signing day

Emma Bowman

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