If Chip Kelly is going to have any hope of improving this UCLA program from its dismal state over the past two years, it’s going to have to start on the recruiting trail. The regression in recruiting from year one (19th best class in the country) to year two (40th best class in the country) was alarming for Kelly. Fortunately, Kelly looks to be making some big-time signings for his current class that could seriously improve the Bruins’ chances of competing this coming year.
While Kelly’s current 32nd ranked class only improved 8 spots from last year (and is 6th best in the Pac-12, the same as last year), his percentage of blue-chip recruits has markedly increased.
Kelly only managed to sign one four-star recruit last year, but he currently has four this year. Previously, I looked at quarterback Parker McQuarrie and linebacker Damian Sellers. Today, I’ll look at wide receiver Logan Loya, who, like Sellars, has the chance to come in and make an impact for this Bruins team right away.
Logan Loya comes to UCLA as one of the most productive, talented, and respected wide receivers in the country. He spent his first three seasons at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California. During his last two years there, Loya had 141 catches for 1,882 yards and 23 touchdowns.
He transferred to St. John Bosco for his senior year, where he had 71 catches for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns.
Perhaps most impressive were Loya’s final two games of the season, which saw him garner 10 receptions, 164 yards, and two touchdowns vs Mater Dei and then 10 receptions, 132 yards, and one touchdown vs De La Salle. Both of those schools ranked in the top 10 nationally at the time. Loya’s efforts on the field ultimately helped St. John Bosco take home a state championship, and he showed up biggest in the biggest games against the toughest opponents, where he was virtually unstoppable.
Like linebacker and fellow UCLA recruit Damien Sellers, Loya is a highly skilled player at his position that was heavily recruited by schools across the country–many of which are better schools than UCLA. Loya garnered interest from Oregon, USC, Utah, Washington, and Vanderbilt, among others. But like Sellers, Loya felt most at home at UCLA and made a quick decision. He ultimately committed November 2nd during the early signing period, within a few days of his official visit. Loya plans to graduate in 3.5 years.
Loya was recruited heavily by wide receivers coach Jimmy Dougherty, with involvement from head coach Chip Kelly as well. Despite the interest from other schools, Loya said that UCLA recruited him harder and more consistently than any other school. He chose UCLA because of everything they had to offer, from the location, academics, strength & conditioning program, and relationship with the players and coaches. He seems to believe in Chip Kelly and in the direction he’s taking this program. Per the press telegram, Loya had this to say about UCLA:
“It’s just the total package for me. Just the education and then also the football program. Right now, they’re young and it’s really an upside (situation). Coach Kelly, he’s going to show why he’s one of the top coaches, I honestly believe. I want to go there and help them on the flip side.”
Loya is not a big or a fast receiver, but what he lacks in top-end speed and size, he makes up in just about every other trait.
Loya has elite short-area quickness, is mechanically sound, smart, tough, a great route runner, and has great hands. He excels at beating defenders off the line and using their leverage against them to find space.
Says Loya, “I like being the smartest dude on the field. I like knowing what’s going on. I like to know what the person guarding me, what he’s going to do. I like to know if I take this step, he’s going to go with his right foot. So then if I get him on his left, then I can cross him and stuff.” Loya also believes that his lack of prototypical athletic traits has helped him develop elite skills in other parts of his game: “I’ve never been the No. 1 dude coming out ever. And I think it honestly helped me because it put a chip on my shoulder to work harder to get that recognition from everyone.”
Praise for Loya comes from just about everyone he’s been in contact with. Says St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro, “He’s one of the best wideouts in my opinion in the country. He’s so underrated in terms of his abilities. He’s got incredible moves. He runs great routes. His hands are ridiculous. He’s just an athlete.”
“I think his body placement and his body mechanics are just super impressive in terms of the way that he can contort his body, the way that he can keep his balance – cutting inside, cutting outside. His ability to change speeds is something that’s really impressive, where he can kind of stop on a dime and then re-start almost to full speed. Those are the things that make him so dangerous.”
“He’s just such a great competitor, he’s extremely skilled in what he does. And he’s very, very coachable, which makes it kind of a scary combination.”
Loya has also garnered praise from Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson as well as from DJ Uiagalelei, his former quarterback. It’s rare that a wideout comes out of high school as polished as Loya, but he looks to be a player that can step in and make an impact immediately, both on and off the field.
Expect Loya to take the field and fill a role similar to that of Kyle Philips–as a shifty playmaker who moves the chains, finds space over the middle and makes tough catches in traffic.
“From a football standpoint, I think I fit in really well there,” says Loya. “I like the offense and what they’re trying to do. Talking with Chip Kelly, I understand the scheme and they see me playing a similar role as Kyle Phillips. I’ll be in the slot a lot but they can move me around and I’ll be used as a complete receiver so that works for me.”
As Greg Biggins at 247Sports explains, Loya has a chance to be a defining recruit and leader in the Chip Kelly era at UCLA: “He’s […] a hard-worker with great character, the type of kid who makes others better around him — exactly the type of player and person Chip Kelly has targeted since coming to UCLA.”
And last but certainly not least, Loya is now 1 of 3 prospects that Kelly has recruited this year from St. John Bosco High School. If Kelly were able to establish a pipeline with them, it would be absolutely huge for UCLA.
At the end of the day, Loya is an exciting prospect for this Bruins team. And while Chip Kelly certainly has a lot of work to do and a lot of questions to answer, the fact that he has been able to bring in recruits like Loya should be good news for any Bruins fan.