For the third straight year after a New Year's Day bowl appearance, UCLA's football team has traded on its good reputation to get letters of intent from a strong group of high school prospects. Once again, the Bruins' crop of recruits ranks among the best in the nation.
Of the 22 players who signed letters of intent with UCLA Wednesday, three are high school All-American linemen, and five were listed among the Best in the West.
The 1985 class is long on big linemen. The All-Americans are Frank Cornish Jr., a 6-foot 4-inch, 250-pound lineman from Mount Carmel High School in Chicago; Mike Lodish, a 6-4, 245-pound lineman from Brother Rice in Birmingham, Mich., and Rick Meyer, a 6-6, 230-pound lineman from Salinas.
Mike Beech, a 6-6, 250-pound lineman from Newport Harbor High School, considered to be the top line prospect in California and a member of USA Today's All-American squad, is another standout among the 10 players listed as linemen.
"We wanted to have a good year with big people," Coach Terry Donahue said. "This is the best we've done in that area in a long time. I think this is the biggest group since I've been here.
"The gutty little Bruin may be dead forever."
The 1985 recruits should complement the 1983 and '84 recruiting classes, which were so strong that at the end of last season the Bruins had 11 players on the roster who were either freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Both starting safeties, James Washington and Dennis Price, were redshirt freshmen. Running backs Gaston Green, James Primus and Mel Farr Jr. all earned starting spots. Also getting a lot of playing time were flanker Paco Craig, linebackers Ken Norton Jr., Eric Smith and Melvin Jackson, and defensive linemen Terry Tumey and Doug Wassel.
Big, young linemen were needed, but the new group includes some impressive players besides the linemen:
Running back Carnell Lake of Culver City, who played in just five games because of a broken and dislocated elbow, still ran up a total of 957 yards for a 9.5-yard per carry average.
Randy Beverly Jr., a quarterback-defensive back-return specialist from Long Island, N.Y., returned kickoffs 91, 94 and 98 yards for touchdowns, and returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown.
Craig Davis, a linebacker from Tucson who was considered the No. 1 linebacker in Arizona, had a total of 251 tackles last season.
Ron Evans, of Issaquah, Wash., caught 29 passes as a tight end and had 12 sacks as a defensive lineman.
Mike Farr, a wide receiver from Brother Rice in Birmingham, Mich., caught 28 passes for 423 yards and six touchdowns, and carried the ball 31 times for 179 yards. He also started at defensive back.
"I would anticipate, based on past ratings, that our class would be regarded quite highly again this year," Donahue said. "I would expect to see it in the top five, but I think the rating of recruiting classes is ridiculous. All it does is add pressure to the coaches . . . and I don't think there is any way to assess a player until he's played for a couple of years."
Farr is another son of Mel Farr, who was an All-American at UCLA and a running back with the Detroit Lions. He will join his brother with the Bruins.
Farr is one of four of the new players who whose fathers played professional football. Beverly's father, Randy Sr., played defensive back with the New York Jets. Evans' father, Norm, was a guard with the Miami Dolphins. Cornish's father, Frank Sr., was a defensive tackle with the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins.
Among the players signed Wednesday were two junior college players--lineman Mark Schmidt from Mt. San Antonio College and defensive back Scott Stephenson from San Bernardino College.
The five Best in the West players included Meyer, Beech and Evans along with defensive back Mark McGill of Bakersfield and lineman Dave Hallstrom of La Canada.
UCLA SIGNEES HIGH SCHOOL
Name School (Town, State) Hgt Wgt Mike Beech Newport Harbor 6-6 250 Randy Beverly Central Islip (Long Island, NY) 6-0 180 Brad Bryson Littleton (Colo.) 6-3 210 Laurence Burkley Oxnard 5-9 165 Ron Caragher Bellarmine (San Jose) 6-3 195 Frank Cornish Mt. Carmel (Chicago) 6-4 250 Craig Davis Canyon del Oro (Tucson) 6-3 210 Ron Evans Issaquah, Wash. 6-4 215 Mike Farr Brother Rice (Birmingham, MI) 6-0 178 Dave Hallstrom St. Francis 6-3 255 Dave Keating North Salinas 6-1 175 Carnell Lake Culver City 6-1 190 Mike Lodish Brother Rice (Birmingham, MI) 6-4 245 Mark McGill South Bakersfield 6-3 185 Rick Meyer Salinas 6-6 230 Bill Paige Wheat Ridge (Colo.) 6-4 240 Skip Pavlik First Colonial (Virginia Beach, Va.) 6-3 232 Jon Pryor San Marcos 6-4 210 Hestin Silbert Bullard (Fresno) 6-5 250 Ray Villalobos St. Paul 6-5 268 JUNIOR COLLEGE Mark Schmidt Mt. San Antonio 6-5 255 Scott Stephenson San Bernardino 6-0 180
Name Position Mike Beech Offensive Lineman Randy Beverly Defensive Back Brad Bryson Linebacker Laurence Burkley Wide Receiver Ron Caragher Quarterback Frank Cornish Lineman Craig Davis Linebacker Ron Evans Tight End Mike Farr Wide Receiver Dave Hallstrom Lineman Dave Keating Running Back Carnell Lake Running Back Mike Lodish Lineman Mark McGill Defensive Line Rick Meyer Lineman Bill Paige Lineman Skip Pavlik Linebacker Jon Pryor Lineman Hestin Silbert Lineman Ray Villalobos Offensive Lineman JUNIOR COLLEGE Mark Schmidt Lineman Scott Stephenson Defensive Back