Football Recruiting: The Linebackers

Linebacker is a huge priority for this recruiting class and it unluckily is the position with the least amount of talent and depth on the west coast this year. UCLA has already gone out aggressively across the nation to recognize some talent outside of California...

LINEBACKER

While UCLA has done well overall in recruiting the last couple of years, a position it hasn't fared well in is linebacker, only getting really two highly-touted LBs in the last two years. With four of its top five linebackers graduating in the next two years, linebacker is a huge priority. UCLA will probably take three minimum.

Justin London, 6-1, 223, 4.6, Roanoke (Virg.) Northside. The kid who came out to the San Diego Nike Camp to get noticed by UCLA, London is one of the best in east. He visited UCLA's campus during spring practice. On tape, he looks quick and has a nose for the ball. Now London said his favorite school was UCLA when he was on the west coast, but he doesn't necessarily say the same when he's on the east coast. No matter, it's his prerogative. Other schools London lists are Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, and Notre Dame.

Andy Matakis, 6-3, 220, 4.6 Corpus Christi (Tex.) Flour Bluff. A kid that UCLA has had as a target for a while, Matakis has good speed and size, and has the potential to get quite a bit bigger. It was reported that UCLA was the first to offer him a scholarship. Other schools recruiting him are Texas, Texas A&M, and, originally being from Pittsburg, there is Pittsburg and Penn State.

Chad Slapnicka, 6-2, 228, 4.7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Slapnicka has some pretty compelling elements going for him. He has good size and good instincts on the field. Off the field, he's from Matt Ware's alma mater and he has a 3.97 GPA and scored a 1330 on his SAT. His father went to Oregon, and the Ducks were recruiting him the heaviest and were his previous leader. Recently, though, he's been saying UCLA is his leader. He's also interested in Washington, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

A.J. Nicholson, 6-2, 235, 4.6, Winston Salem (North Car.) Mount Tabor. Nicholson could end up at defensive end, but no matter what position, he's considered an elite prospect on the east coast. He has the entire eastern seaboard and south after him, UCLA has thrown its hat into the ring, but they'd have to be considered a longshot.

Xavier Burgess, 6-3, 215, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant. A sleeper to recruiting fans, but not to college coaches, Burgess is a player that is getting some strong attention. Having grown a couple of inches in a year and put on 20 pounds, he was fairly unknown. He's very athletic and runs very well - and could put on more weight easily. UCLA is recruiting as well as many schools in the Pac-10.

Ricky Miller, 6-3, 225, Tustin (Calif.) High. Miller worked out with the running backs at the Stanford Nike Camp, and he could end up a fullback, while many coaches project him as a linebacker. Already good-sized, Miller easily could put on more weight, and having run a 4.65 40 and jumping 28 inches in the vertical at the camp has many coaches drooling. UCLA is definitely recruiting.

Garnett Smith, 6-2, 215, 4.5, Arlington (Tex.) Lamar. One of the elite linebackers out of Texas this year, Smith is very fast and has great pursuit to the ball. UCLA and many others are recruiting him.

Ed Jackson, 6-2, 202, 4.6, La Marque (Tex.) High. Jackson had a good showing at the Nike Texas A&M Camp, showing the quickness and speed needed to play OLB on the next level. He has said he'd like to go away to school and recently said UCLA was his #1 choice. Also likes Miami, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.

Nurahda Manning, 6-2, 220, Bay City (Tex.) High. With a body that could put on some more muscle, Manning has really exceptional quickness and great potential. UCLA is recruiting him, as well as the Texas schools and others.

Darrell Tautofi, 6-3, 250, St.George, (Utah) Dixie College. The little brother of incoming UCLA JC transfer Dave Tautofi, Darrell is a bit of a tweener - but has some good football instincts. He's definitely on UCLA's list.

Flamingo Malone, 6-5, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Banning. All-state underclass as a safety, many project him as a linebacker on the next level. He's on UCLA's "to-watch" list.

Kose Kuaea, 6-3, 225, 4.7, Tacoma (Wash.) Lakes. A good-looking prospect from Washington, Kuaea has mentioned UCLA on his short list and UCLA has been to see him.

Alex Ligon, 6-3, 225, 4.6, Torrance (Calif.) North. One of the newest names on the scene, Ligon impressed at the San Diego Nike camp with some great numbers - a 4.68 40, 4.49 shuttle, 33-inch vertical and 21 reps on the bench. Considered a raw prospect, he might end up being the best linebacker in the Los Angeles area by the end of next season.

Willie Jones, 6-1, 260, Yankton (South Dakota) High. Big-bodied kid with a knack for the ball, Jones lists UCLA among the schools he's considering and UCLA is aware of him.

Scott White, 6-2, 225, 4.6, San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay. Probably the best linebacker in San Diego, White had a great junior year, recording 100 tackles and eight sacks, while also doing duty at fullback. He will camp at UCLA in June and they're on his list, but he's also considering Oregon, Washington, USC, Colorado and others.

Troy Thompson, 5-11, 203, Sweeny (Tex.) High. Thompson had a good showing at the A&M Nike camp and is considered undersized, but one of the best in Texas this year. He has shown interest in UCLA.

Pagitte McGee, 6-0, 207, 4.5, Tyler (Tex.) John Tyler. Reportedly very quick, McGee is another from Texas that UCLA is watching since McGee has expressed interest in the Bruins.

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