One recruit backed out of his commitment. Then another. And another.
In the span of a week, UCLA’s football team lost five prospects who had said they would sign with the Bruins. The defections added up to what seemed like an obvious conclusion: UCLA’s struggles on the field and the uncertainty it created over the fate of the coaching staff were leading to more than lost games.
“Five in a one-week span isn’t very common at all,” said Brandon Huffman, director of recruiting for Scout.com. “Usually, when you see that, a coaching change just happened.”
Coach Jim Mora is still on the job despite the Bruins losing three of four games heading into Saturday’s Pac-12 Conference game against Arizona State at the Rose Bowl. Mora cannot comment directly on recruits who have not signed letters of intent, but said there were additional layers to the situation unrelated to the team’s 4-5 record.
“When you read about the decommits, you worry about it,” Mora said, “but there’s a hidden reality to it, I guess I should say.”
Huffman notes that three of the recruits hailed from the South — defensive backs Kendrick Torain of Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit High, Ken Montgomery of Tampa Hillsborough and Dayven Coleman of West Mesquite (Texas) — and fit a pattern of prospects from that area reneging on commitments to UCLA after changing their minds or being more strongly pursued by colleges closer to home.
“I don’t think any of those three you were 100% confident [the Bruins] were going to sign,” Huffman said. “Even if UCLA was 7-2 right now, those guys were probably still going to end up elsewhere.”
Another factor might have been the Bruins’ depth at defensive back after restocking their ranks with their last recruiting class. Torain told 247Sports that UCLA coaches “weren’t really communicating well with me,” but Huffman said that might have been by design after the coaches realized they could land a comparable…