After Jim Mora was hired as UCLA’s coach a couple of months ago, he immediately began targeting some of the elite football prospects in his old stomping grounds of the Atlanta area.
As the coach the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-2006, Mora has instant face and name recognition with many of Georgia’s top talent.
“When we recruit kids around there, people remember me as the coach that led the Falcons to the NFC championship game, and the coach who coached Mike Vick,” Mora told the AJC. “So I think things like that are very helpful when recruiting in that area.”
“The bottom line is this: The last time the Falcons won a playoff game, I was the head coach. Kids remember that game, the 47-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. A lot of kids around Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the Southeast follow the Falcons. They know that was the last time that the Falcons have won a playoff game.
“So kids are interested with that connection to the Falcons, and the parents are interested in that, too. They all wonder why the Falcons haven’t won a playoff game since, and I can’t answer that question. For all the success that the Falcons have had since we left, they still haven’t won a playoff game — and that resonates with people”
Last week, Mora signed 26 players for his first UCLA recruiting class, including two from Atlanta – Lassiter safety Kenny Orjioke and Peachtree Ridge WR Ahmaad Harris. The Bruins also have a commitment from one of the state’s top juniors, Lassiter QB Eddie Printz.
“I went to football games every Friday night for three years in Georgia,” Mora said. “I know the importance of high school football in Georgia, and how important it is to the kids and what it means to them. When I became UCLA’s coach, I was really excited about the fact that we were going to recruit in that state. It was a priority right off the bat. The priority was that need to get into the South, and we needed to get into Georgia … I wanted to tap into that, that passion for football that is so evident in the South. I think if we can come down there every year and recruit a couple of guys and have some success, it can be perpetual. We can get a little Georgia pipeline going to UCLA.”
Mora, who has mining the talent out of California as his No. 1 priority, gave many reasons why Georgia’s top juniors should consider UCLA.
“If they can find a way to disconnect for four years from the way they’ve grown up in the South and come out west, I think that’s a great learning experience for them. I think that’s great exposure for them. I think they can get a top education at UCLA. You know, you can always go back home. You can’t always leave home but you can always go back home.”
Note: Mora no longer has a house in Atlanta, but still has his charitable foundation in the area “Jim Mora Count of Me Family Foundation” which works with underprivileged youth and at-risk kids in Georgia and with the Special Olympics. “We’re still very active with that, and my wife will be leaving for Atlanta on Sunday for three days of events with the foundation,” Mora said.
RELATED: Grayson DE Robert Nkemdiche, ranked as nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2013, made an unofficial visit to UGA on Saturday with several teammates. “It went good,” Nkemdiche told the AJC.
IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES
INSTANT AJC RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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