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Top UCLA Football Class of 2023 Targets Starting to Commit Elsewhere

The month of June has featured several prospects with offers from the Bruins making verbal commitments to other programs.
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The Bruins' luck on the recruiting trail has started to run dry.

There have been a dozen class of 2023 recruits with offers from UCLA football who have made verbal commitments since June 10, but only one made their pledge to the Bruins. Picking up a commitment from quarterback Luke Duncan on June 21 has kept the month from being a complete black hole, but losing out on double-digit targets has set the Bruins back from where they were in late May.

As spring camp came to a close, coach Chip Kelly and his staff started hosting recruits on official visits. UCLA hadn't held many May officials in past years under Kelly, but the team shifting the timeline to allow players to come on campus at that time of year sparked some hope that recruiting was on an upswing.

Four-star running back Roderick Robinson II and four-star linebacker Tre Edwards committed at the end of May, building additional buzz around the Bruins' growing class of 2023.

The rest of those visitors, however, are now flying off the board – and not necessarily to Westwood.

Offensive tackle Elijah Paige, offensive tackle Heath Ozaeta and tight end Spencer Shannon visited the weekend of May 6. Paige committed to Notre Dame on June 10, Ozaeta committed to Oklahoma on June 27 and Shannon committed to Texas on June 13.

Defensive lineman Grant Buckey, linebacker Cade Uluave and athlete Jamison Patton visited the weekend of May 13. Buckey committed to USC on June 15, Uluave committed to Cal on June 11 and Patton committed to Iowa State on June 13.

Offensive tackles Luke Baklenko and Elisha Jackett visited the weekend of May 20. Baklenko committed to Stanford on June 21 and Jackett committed to Washington on June 26.

Additionally, linebacker Hayden Moore committed to Nebraska on June 21, athlete Vincent Holmes committed to Washington on June 25 and quarterback Jaden Rashada committed to Miami on June 26. While none of them came to Westwood for officials or appeared to have UCLA as a top contender in their respective recruitments, they did each hold offers from the Bruins before committing elsewhere.

The position group most heavily impacted over the past few weeks has been offensive tackle.

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UCLA only signed one 2022 recruit at the position – local three-star Sam Yoon – and the team lost both of its starters to the NFL Draft earlier in the offseason. Needing three or four takes this cycle, Paige, Jackett, Ozaeta and Baklenko were all priority targets who the Bruins missed on.

There are still targets who UCLA appears to have decent-to-solid chances with – defensive lineman A.J. Fuimaono, linebacker Jerry Mixon, offensive guard Simione Pale, offensive tackle Raymond Pulido and cornerback Maliki Crawford chief among them.

All of those prospects came to Westwood for official visits in May, so the Bruins could boost their hit percentage from that wave of prospects in the coming weeks or months.

But with a 2023 recruiting class that currently ranks No. 59 in the 247Sports Composite with just five commits, there is added pressure on UCLA sealing the deal on that shortlist of prospects.

Part of the reason that list is so short to begin with is because Kelly's staff has only sent out 54 offers to class of 2023 prospects.

Looking across the rest of the Pac-12, Colorado sent 368, Arizona State sent 299, Oregon sent 273, Arizona sent 256, USC sent 225, Washington State sent 216, Utah sent 197, Washington sent 177, Oregon State sent 169, Cal sent 144 and Stanford sent 93. Even universities that UCLA is equates itself to academically – Stanford and Cal – sent out nearly two or three times as many offers as the Bruins.

The wider implications behind Kelly's strategy to be among the most conservative recruiting programs in the country can be broken down further at another time, but in the context of the Bruins' 2023 class, it has positioned UCLA for yet another small haul with so many of its top targets getting poached by other schools.

A strong July or September could help make up for those big picture concerns, but June has certainly taken some air out of the Bruins' short-lived recruiting hype heading into the dog days of summer.

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