2023 UCLA Football Offseason Opponent Primer: California


HomeHome / Blog / 2023 UCLA Football Offseason Opponent Primer: California

Nov 01, 2023

2023 UCLA Football Offseason Opponent Primer: California

247Sports' weekly rankings notes feature 17 fresh ratings updates, almost

247Sports' weekly rankings notes feature 17 fresh ratings updates, almost entirely in the 2024 class, but also with one emerging 2025 name to know. The names below represent numerous official visitors to various schools across the country.

While this week's edition of rankings notes does not include any newly tabbed four-stars, a number of this week's featured prospects could certainly see their stock continue to rise, perhaps into that 90-plus rating neighborhood. Six committed 2024 prospects are included, and one earned a major bump on the quarterback board following an excellent junior year on the gridiron and the baseball diamond.

A dozen of the 17 prospects listed below debut in the high three-star range on 247Sports -- that consists of grades from 87 to 89 on our scale. Everybody in Friday's notes package sits at an 85 rating or higher. With that context, we kick off this week's 17-pack with a freshly minted 89-rated prospect who's expected to officially visit South Carolina this weekend.

Norfolk (Va.) Maury's Fred Johnson is an exciting watch on tape. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Johnson beats opposing defensive backs as a playmaking wide receiver, whether stringing together run-after-catch elusiveness in the open field, or winning contested throws as a high-pointing threat, Johnson terrorizes secondaries. And oh by the way, Johnson -- debuting with a high three-star 89 and the potential to continue rising -- doubles as a full-time defensive presence as well, whether pursuing sideline to sideline at linebacker or chasing plays down from the back side as an athletic edge defender.

The extensive two-way snaps bode well for Johnson's long-term development, which combines with his large frame and obvious athleticism to provide a high ceiling in the long run. Johnson is expected to officially visit South Carolina this weekend after picking up an offer from the Gamecocks following a recent camp performance. Duke, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Appalachian State, East Carolina, and Marshall are among his almost 20 offers.

Marion (Ark.) 2025 two-way lineman Carius Curne caught the attention of numerous programs with a strong camp performance in the past week. While we're still gathering information about Curne, what he showed in front of 247Sports staff reinforced what he put on tape in his Fall 2022 sophomore campaign. Curne -- debuting as a high three-star 88 on 247Sports -- has reported SMU, Liberty, Texas State, and most recently Arkansas since a June 3 camp at SMU. Memphis and UTSA offered Curne in March and April, respectively. According to 247Sports national recruiting analyst Mike Roach, who covers Texas and surrounding states, Curne worked out on defense to gain the attention of schools at the camp.

But a glance at Curne's sophomore tape shows a large, lean, mobile offensive tackle, which could potentially represent his long-term home. Getting verified measurements will influence the decision regarding an offensive tackle or defensive line projection, in our eyes. But right now, Curne's early recruitment appears to be that of a legitimate two-way prospect. He looks the part on the hoof, shows encouraging movement ability, and also checks the multi-sport box (40-foot, 4 1/2-inch shot put throw in April). Stay tuned. Curne's ceiling looks high.

Debuting with a high three-star 88 rating on 247Sports is Armani Cargo, the latest high-potential pickup by Willie Fritz' Tulane Green Wave. Cargo plays corner, safety, and receiver at Marrero (La.) John Ehret, about a 15- or 20-minute drive south of Tulane's campus. He provided some big-play punch on offense from time to time, along with 35 tackles and four interceptions on defense, during a strong Fall 2022 junior campaign.

Cargo is just the type of player Tulane has succeeded with in recent years -- a local prospect with verified athleticism and varied on-field experience. The verified athleticism exists in the form of Cargo's elite track prowess: he's the reigning Louisiana Class 5A state champion in the 100 meters (10.45) and 200 meters (21.15). Cargo is not the biggest DB you will find, but he's big enough and his length combines with his speed to make him more than capable of becoming a potential impact player at the next level. Cargo picked Tulane over several other offers, including Texas Tech, Memphis, Marshall, and Miami (Ohio).

Brookhaven (Miss.) standout Xavier Gayten started the 2022 season at quarterback before moving to full-time running back duties. Regardless of alignment, Gayten provided big-play punch as a runner, averaging almost eight yards per carry as he ran for 1,654 yards and 13 touchdowns in only nine games. Listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds, Gayten runs with impressive acceleration and top-end field speed. He's a bit of an upright runner but knows how to prepare to absorb impacts and regularly displays encouraging contact balance. He's a dangerous one-cut runner who knows how to get vertical and turn the second level into a foot race. Gayten, who committed this week to Mississippi State, also owns some promising track context, including a sophomore 10.95-second 100-meter time, as well as an 11.16 100 and 22.24 200 this spring.

Southern Miss picked up a big commitment this week in Port Gibson (Miss.) standout Damion Miller, who debuts at a high three-star 87 rating. Miller is a big-framed athlete with playmaking ability on both sides of the ball. He projects as a big safety at the next level with the frame potential to provide varied positional value in the defensive back seven. Having said that, Miller's run-after-catch athleticism and ball skills on offense jump off the tape. Those are traits that should only enhance Miller's defensive potential. Furthermore, Miller boasts a three-sport athletic profile that also includes basketball and track and field, including a 20-foot long jump and a couple of 5-8 high jumps. You gotta give Southern Miss a lot of credit for landing Miller.

Debuting at the top of the high three-star 87-rated edge prospects is Chima Chineke, an impressive 6-foot-4, 215-pound defender from Plano (Texas) East, one of the largest high schools in Texas. A busy June lies ahead for Chineke, who officially visited Vanderbilt this past weekend and will reportedly take OVs to Kansas, Texas Tech, Oregon State, and Iowa in the next couple of weeks.

Chineke owns enormous length -- which frequently shows in his ability to snag ball carriers who are seemingly out of reach -- with immense frame potential and a multi-sport profile that includes basketball. He flashed some encouraging pursuit athleticism in 2022, when he recorded 6.5 sacks in 10 games. Chineke owns the physical tools to play a full-time standing edge role, or bulk into a true hand-on-the-ground player at the Power Five level. Either way, the arrow points up.

"It's a deep cycle for tight ends and new names continue to surface. One fresh face who looks full of potential is Noah Onyia. After getting snaps on both sides of the ball last fall, Onyia has transferred into Lawrenceville (Ga.) Mountain View where he has started to bill himself as more of a flex tight end. We’re all for it. Not only is Onyia hovering around 6-foot-5.5, 215 pounds, but he's got a strong testing profile and looked the part last month during spring practices.

"Onyia makes his debut in the 247Sports with a three-star grade of an 87. In addition to the measurables, we also like how he protects the rim on the hardwood and the fact that he's just 16 years old. Onyia has already camped at both Mississippi State and Georgia Tech this summer. He holds offers from both programs and is likely only going to find himself with more Power Five suitors as he makes the rounds." -- Andrew Ivins, 247Sports director of scouting

Debuting as a high three-star 87 is Gabriel Reliford, an intriguing edge prospect with athleticism that repeatedly flashes on tape and a dense, stout build that belies his actual size. Around 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 and pushing 260 pounds, Reliford plays with violence at the point of attack. He's heavy-handed and powerful in the upper half, and his size and build suggest that he will improve his anchoring ability vs. the run with continued development. Reliford has terrorized opposing offenses the past two years for Shreveport (La.) Evangel, producing 200-plus tackles, 20-plus sacks, and six forced fumbles, per the Evangel coaching staff. Reliford officially visited Vanderbilt this past weekend and reportedly will take OVs to Ole Miss and SMU the upcoming two weekends.

"There's a lot to like about cornerback Therrian Alexander III. The rising senior out of Decatur (Ga.) Southwest DeKalb is still pretty green from a technical standpoint, but he's got a lanky frame that's believed to be over 6 feet and plenty of foot speed. Last month, Alexander captured gold at the GHSA 4A state track meet with a 46.84 effort in spikes. He was also part of 4x200 and 4x400 squads that set Peach State records that weekend.

"While there's a chance Alexander -- who is drawing track interest from Iowa -- could just run in college, he's got the tools to emerge as a potential shutdown defender on the outside, and that's why he now holds a high three-star grade of an 87 on 247Sports. Alexander worked out for Mississippi State last Friday. He's also hearing from Ole Miss." -- Andrew Ivins, 247Sports director of scouting

"Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside nose guard Michai Boireau is set to take official visits in the coming weeks to Florida, Michigan, and Ole Miss. We have been waiting to get some verified measurements on the big man and we can finally report with some confidence that he checks in at around 6-foot-5, 390 pounds. Obviously, Boireau is going to need to find and maintain a certain playing weight at the next level, but he's the type of interior lineman who can eat up space and take on double teams.

"Boireau, who totaled 43 tackles and four sacks as a junior, has earned a high three-star grade of an 87 from 247Sports. He recently camped at Georgia and has also been linked to schools such as Auburn, Maryland, and Georgia Tech in the past." -- Andrew Ivins, 247Sports director of scouting

Flomaton (Ala.) High defensive line standout Miles Adams approaches 6-foot-4, 280 pounds with above average length and track and field experience. He placed sixth in the Alabama Class 3A state shot put finals (42-8) in May, while adding a 122-3 discus throw earlier in the semester. That followed an eight-game junior campaign that saw Miles record 35 tackles, nine TFL, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Adams, a new high three-star 87 on 247Sports, flashes close-quarters power and run-game strength that could translate to multiple spots and varying defensive fronts. He took an official visit this past weekend to Texas Tech, which initially offered in early May, and reports additional offers from programs such as UAB, Liberty, Southern Miss, and several other Division I schools.

Midlothian (Texas) Heritage claims another promising edge prospect in Temerrick Johnson, who is expected to officially visit Cal, Oklahoma State, and Kansas in the upcoming three weekends. Around 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Johnson tests well in a combine setting and possesses good length with a wingspan in the 6-foot-9 neighborhood. Johnson has primarily played as an edge for Heritage, but his functional athleticism, along with that combine testing, suggest he could also provide snaps off the ball in certain packages.

Johnson, a new high three-star 87, has reported nearly all of his 20-plus offers since the conclusion of his junior season, when he logged seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Johnson appears to play as an assignment-aware defender and his long-term pass-rushing upside should be quite high, considering his build, measurables, and functional athleticism.

Making a significant ascension on the 2024 quarterback board is Troy commit and Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic star Caleb McCreary, an undersized but hyper-dynamic playmaker at the position. McCreary rises from a three-star 82 rating to a strong 86 grade, about 50 spots nationally at the QB position. Why? Continued review of the QB class combines with McCreary's excellent multi-sport profile, which features a junior baseball season that saw the 5-foot-11, 180-pound post the following numbers: .333 batting average, 1 HR, 16 RBI, four triples, five doubles, 37 runs, and 36 steals in 32 games. Additionally, McCreary logged a virtually unheard of 26-10 BB-K ratio -- exceptional, especially at the high school level -- to aid a whopping .492 on-base percentage that combined with a .505 slugging percentage to produce a .997 OPS.

And yes, McCreary can rip it at QB. He posted an outstanding 43-1 TD-INT ratio in 2022, when he threw for 2,809 yards and ran for 802 yards and 10 TDs on 10.0 yards per carry. In the past three seasons, Montgomery Catholic has compiled a 38-5 record as McCreary has thrown for almost 8,000 yards and 107 TDs, on top of 1,400-plus rushing yards and 15 more TDs. McCreary's rise is certainly warranted, and Troy boasts one of the more fun QB commits in the cycle.

Cal is no stranger to the state of Texas, and the Golden Bears dipped into the Lone Star State to pick up an intriguing linebacker addition in Eze Osondu from Byron Nelson High School in the DFW Metroplex. Osondu, a new strong three-star 86 on 247Sports, has played extensive snaps off the ball, but also with a hand on the ground as a rush end, finishing the 2022 season with seven sacks.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder possesses very good length, runs well, and displays promising linear pursuit athleticism. Since he's played forward so often during his high school career, Osondu's ability to drop into coverage will likely be a work in progress. Having said that, his functional athleticism is a plus on tape, and his length should aid him when trying to crowd pass catchers, or as a blitzer, which could provide a particularly effective outlet for Osondu's physical tools and on-field experience as he progresses to the next level.

We recently wrote about an intriguing, big-framed TXHSFB quarterback in Drew Devillier. Well, meet another: Graham Knowles from perennial power Southlake Carroll. Verified multiple times at 6-foot-7, Knowles stepped in late in the season for injured starter Kaden Anderson, a quality QB in his own right who signed with Wyoming. Knowles started a handful of games, including four playoffs, going 3-1 in the postseason and helping Carroll to a 13-1 finish and a Texas Class 6A Division II state quarterfinal appearance.

Knowles throws with excellent touch, takes care of the ball, and his arm strength capacity is likely quite high given his frame. He also completed 72 percent of his throws and threw 18 TDs to three INTs across 174 attempts as a junior. Because of his sheer size, Knowles also provides an option at the goal line, which he showed a couple of times in 2022. Knowles, a new three-star 85 on 247Sports, bolsters his athletic profile with some basketball competency that has seen him finish in traffic with regularity. He will reportedly take an official visit this month to Georgia Tech. A big senior season could see him, like Devillier, continue to ascend our QB board.

Norman (Okla.) North's Harrison Utley primarily played left tackle as a junior and owns experience at multiple O-line spots, but his future could very well be center. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder and new three-star 85 plays with encouraging lateral foot quickness and displays the ability to engage multiple targets when needed. He's got some power in his hands and shows throw-around strength from time to time. Also a baseball player, Utley earned All-City first-team honors from The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) this past fall and has garnered a handful of FBS offers, including Kansas and Iowa State, plus several Ivy League schools and all three service academies. We view him as a true center prospect considering his measurements and play style.

A legitimate two-way prospect as a big tight end or defensive lineman, Greydon Grimes' long-term ceiling is higher at the latter, in our opinion. The China Spring (Texas) standout and recent Baylor pledge provided snaps this past fall at tight end, defensive end, and interior D-line for a China Spring squad that went 15-1 and won the Texas Class 4A Division I state championship. That followed China Spring's 4A D-II title and undefeated season in 2021, when Grimes played both ways as a sophomore after moving from Pleasant Grove (Utah) following his freshman season.

Owner of a 45-foot shot put throw, Grimes possesses a frame in the 6-foot-5, 235-pound range, and his growth potential and functional athleticism intrigue us on the defensive side of the ball. Grimes, a new three-star 85 on 247Sports, also boasts an excellent football pedigree as the son of Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes.

-- 247Sports' Andrew Ivins, Cooper Petagna, Mike Roach, Brian Dohn, and Bud Elliott contributed to this report.

debuting with a high three-star 89 and the potential to continue rising a high three-star 88 rating on 247Sports Debuting at the top of the high three-star 87-rated edge prospects makes his debut in the 247Sports with a three-star grade of an 87 Debuting as a high three-star 87 now holds a high three-star grade of an 87 on 247Sports a high three-star grade of an 87 from 247Sports a new high three-star 87 on 247Sports a new high three-star 87, rises from a three-star 82 rating to a strong 86 grade a new strong three-star 86 on 247Sports a new three-star 85 on 247Sports new three-star 85 a new three-star 85 on 247Sports