The Bruins will host their largest group of prospects yet from the Class of 2023 this month.
UCLA football has brought 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 its third straight weekend of official visits since spring camp ended invited. The Bruins have signed two prospects for 2023, with wide receiver Grant Gray and safety Ty Lee recently pledging for the Bruins, leaving coach Chip Kelly’s staff still trying to round out the class.
All six recruits have offers from UCLA, but Jackett is the only one who has cemented the blue and gold as one of his semifinalists and made the cut as one of his top five schools, as announced May 12.
Offensive line coach Tim Drevno has spearheaded the effort behind recruiting 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.
This is where UCLA currently stands with the recruits visiting Westwood May 20-22.
OL Lukas Baklenko
The Bruins became the second team to make an offer to the Southern California native on Jan. 31 and have been trying to secure his commitment ever since. But UCLA faces stiff competition from Boston College — which has booked an official visit for Baklenko on June 10 — and a variety of West Coast programs.
According to 247Sports Composite, the Oaks Christian (CA) junior is a three-star prospect competing as the No. 67 offensive lineman in the Class of 2023 and California’s No. 67 player overall.
Baklenko has visited Westwood a number of times and chatted with players on the team during those unofficial visits, but May 20-22 will be his first official visit of 2022.
UCLA doesn’t have an offensive line commitment for 2023, so the 6-foot-7 blocker could be first if the visit goes well.
CB Maliki Crawford
Crawford retired from UCLA on Jan. 23 after originally signing up last summer, but the Oxnard native is coming back to Westwood while he reconsiders his enlistment.
The Bruins have struggled for Crawford since he reopened things, as he has announced from the start he will continue to keep UCLA as a top target for his future. The 6-foot-3 Pacifica (CA) defenseman recently came to Westwood for an unofficial meeting on April 13 and has routinely posted graphics to social media throughout the offseason that were sent to him by the Bruins’ recruiting staff.
After the trip to Westwood, three more visits to Crawford are on the agenda. He will be in Cal on June 10th, at USC on June 16th and in Washington on June 24th.
Crawford is a three-star prospect and the No. 44 cornerback in the nation, according to 247Sports Composite, while also being the No. 26 player in California and the No. 3 unbound cornerer in the state.
LB Tre Edwards
UCLA sent Edwards his latest offer on Jan. 29, and now the Bruins will also become the first team to host the Mater Dei (CA) linebacker on an official visit.
The 247Sports Composite ranked Edwards as a four-star recruit and fielded him as the No. 12 linebacker in the country and No. 14 player in California, making Norton’s first high-profile recruiting struggle. With Mater Dei, Edwards won a Division 2-AA State Championship during his junior season and emerged as one of the top defensive players in Southern California.
Former UCLA defense coach Johnny Nansen is leading the charge for Arizona as the new defense coordinator, and the Wildcats have reportedly emerged as a program that may also be in the thick of Edwards’ recruiting.
However, in an interview with 247Sports, Edwards spoke about Norton handling his recruiting and unofficial visits to Westwood.
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“It’s pretty big to have Ken Norton there,” Edwards said. “He was 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 because he’s been there and has done it before.”
OT Elishah Jacket
After narrowing his list of options to five schools — Cal, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, UCLA and Washington — Jackett is at a new stage in his recruiting and the Bruins are looking to ditch 6-foot-7 tackle before future visits has planned.
Jackett is visiting Cal and Washington on June 3 and 24, respectively, but he hasn’t set a date for an official visit regarding the two Southern schools.
According to 247Sports Composite, the El Modena, CA, junior is a three-star contender, No. 31 in offensive tackle in the nation and No. 28 overall in California.
Like fellow offensive line recruits Baklenko and Pulido, the hefty blockers could become the first commits from their positions in UCLA’s 2023 recruit class after advancing just one player in the 2022 cycle.
ATH Ethan O’Connor
Since Norwood was the assistant who offered O’Connor, the Bruins appear to be targeting the two-way prospect primarily as a defender, despite his added experience as a receiver.
The junior holds offerings from top collegiate football programs like Alabama and Georgia, as well as West Coast powerhouses like Oregon and USC. The May 20 visit will be his first of an official nature and could help UCLA make a big first impression on the 2023 recruits.
O’Connor is a three-star contender, according to the 247Sports Composite. On duty, the Los Alamitos High School (CA) utility player is the No. 35 athlete in the nation and the No. 32 player in California.
Discussing his official visit plans with 247Sports, O’Connor opened up about his views on Westwood and the Bruins.
“I really like the staff and I’m very comfortable with Coach Norwood and Coach Kelly,” said O’Connor. “I’m looking for a family feel and I definitely have that at UCLA.”
OL Raymond Pulido
Pulido’s recruitment appears to be a two-horse race at the moment, with Louisville and UCLA being key players in securing the 6-foot-6, 360-pound lineman’s engagement.
After this weekend’s visit to Westwood, the junior from St. John’s Bosco (CA) will travel east to Louisville on June 17 for his second official visit. On the Equation’s unofficial visit page, Pulido will be visiting Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss June 7-11.
The 247Sports Composite has designated Pulido as a three-star recruit, fielding him as the No. 70 offensive lineman in the country and No. 68 player in California.
In an interview with 247Sports, the Apple Valley native opened up about his relationship with Bruins left tackle Garrett DiGiorgio and what he’s looking forward to in Westwood.
“UCLA is definitely one of the hardest recruiting schools for me,” 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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