The Bruins will welcome their largest group of Class of 2023 prospects so far this month.
UCLA Football has invited offensive lineman Luke Baklenko, cornerback Maliki Crawford, linebacker Tre Edwards, offensive tackle Elishah Jackett, athlete Ethan O’Connor and offensive lineman Raymond Pulido to Westwood for his third consecutive weekend of official visits since the end of spring camp. The Bruins have two prospects committed to 2023, with receiver Grant Gray and safety Ty Lee recently committed to the Bruins, so coaching staff Chip Kelly is still trying to round out the class.
All six rookies hold offers from UCLA, but Jackett is the only one to cement blue and gold as one of its semifinalists, making it into its top five schools as announced May 12.
Offensive line coach Tim Drevno spearheaded the efforts behind the signings of Baklenko, Jackett and Pulido, while Crawford and O’Connor have been in touch with defensive backs coach Brian Norwood. Edwards, on the other hand, was primarily recruited by inside linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.
Here’s where UCLA currently stands with rookies visiting Westwood May 20-22.
OL Luke Baklenko
The Bruins were the second team to offer the Southern California native on January 31 and have been trying to secure his commitment ever since. However, UCLA faces stiff competition from Boston College — which has an official visit earmarked for Baklenko on June 10 — and a wide array of West Coast programs.
Junior Oaks Christian (CA) is a three-star prospect, entering as the No. 67 offensive lineman in the Class of 2023 and California’s No. 67 player overall, according to the 247Sports Composite.
Baklenko has visited Westwood a few times before and talked to team players during those unofficial visits, but May 20-22 will be his first official visit in 2022.
UCLA has no offensive line commitment for 2023, so if the visit goes well, the 6-foot-7 tackle could be first.
CB Maliki Crawford
Crawford signed out of UCLA on Jan. 23 after initially signing up last summer, but the Oxnard native is returning to Westwood as he reconsiders recruiting.
The Bruins have remained in contention for Crawford since he reopened things, as he announced early on that he would always maintain UCLA as a top destination for his future. The 6-foot-3 Pacifica (CA) defensive back recently came to Westwood for an unofficial game on April 13 and has regularly posted graphics sent to him by Bruins scouting staff on social media throughout of the offseason.
After a stop in Westwood, three more visits are planned for Crawford. He will be at Cal on June 10, USC on June 16 and Washington on June 24.
Crawford is a three-star prospect and the No. 44 cornerback in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite, while also being the No. 26 player in California and the No. 3 uncommitted corner in the state.
LB Tre Edwards
UCLA sent its most recent offer to Edwards on Jan. 29, and now the Bruins will also be the first team to welcome linebacker Mater Dei (CA) for an official visit.
The 247Sports Composite identified Edwards as a four-star recruit, placing him as the No. 12 linebacker in the country and No. 14 player in California, making it Norton’s first high-profile recruiting battle. With Mater Dei, Edwards won a Division 2-AA state championship in his junior season, bursting onto the scene as one of Southern California’s top defensive players.
Former UCLA defensive line coach Johnny Nansen is leading the charge for Arizona as the new defensive coordinator, and the Wildcats are believed to have emerged as a program that could also be central to recruiting. Edwards.
However, in an interview with 247Sports, Edwards spoke about Norton taking charge of his recruitment and unofficial visits to Westwood.
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“It’s pretty important to have Ken Norton there,” Edwards said. “He’s been (at) the highest level as a player and as a coach. To have the opportunity to learn from someone like that is huge and whatever he teaches you, you know it’s true since he is there and has already done it.
OT Elishah Jackett
After narrowing his list of options to five schools — Cal, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, UCLA and Washington — Jackett is at another stage of his recruiting and the Bruins are trying to come out ahead of future visits from the 6-foot-7 tackle a foreseen.
Jackett is visiting Cal and Washington on June 3 and 24, respectively, but as for the pair of Southern schools, he still hasn’t set a date for an official visit.
According to the 247Sports Composite, the El Modena (CA) junior is a three-star prospect, the 31st offensive tackle in the nation and is ranked 28th player in California overall.
Like other offensive line recruits Baklenko and Pulido, the big tackles could become the first to commit from their positions in UCLA’s 2023 recruiting class after recruiting just one player at the before the 2022 cycle.
ATH Ethan O’Connor
Since Norwood was the backup who offered O’Connor, the Bruins seem to be aiming for the two-way prospect primarily as a defensive back despite his additional experience as a receiver.
The junior holds offers from top college football programs such as Alabama and Georgia, as well as West Coast powerhouses such as Oregon and USC. The May 20 visit will be his first official visit and could help UCLA make a big first impression on the 2023 rookie.
O’Connor is a three-star prospect, according to 247Sports Composite. On serve, the Los Alamitos High School (CA) utility player is the No. 35 athlete in the nation and the No. 32 player in California.
When discussing his official visit plans with 247Sports, O’Connor opened up about how he feels about Westwood and the Bruins.
“I really like the staff and I’m very comfortable with Coach Norwood and Coach Kelly,” O’Connor said. “I’m looking for a family vibe and I definitely got it at UCLA.”
OL Raymond Pulido
Recruiting Pulido appears to be a two-horse race at the moment, with Louisville and UCLA being the main players in securing the 6-foot-6, 360-pound lineman’s commitment.
After this weekend’s visit to Westwood, the St. John Bosco (CA) junior will head east to Louisville on June 17 for his second official visit. On the unofficial visit side of the equation, Pulido is set to visit Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss June 7-11.
The 247Sports Composite identified Pulido as a three-star recruit, ranking him as the No. 70 offensive lineman in the nation and the No. 68 player in California.
In an interview with 247Sports, the Apple Valley native opened up about his relationship with current Bruins left tackle Garrett DiGiorgio and what he’s looking forward to in Westwood.
“UCLA is one of the schools that get me the most, for sure,” Pulido said. “I have a great relationship with Coach Drevno and Chip Kelly and loved my recent visit there. It’s an amazing place and I love the academic and football fit.
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