2011 Recruiting Reset: Defense

UCLA has eight commitments so far, three on the defensive side of the ball, but they've lost three of them. With a limited number of scholarships available in the class of 2011 overall, UCLA will pick up a select few more defensive recruits, but the pickings are slim...

With the dead period in effect until after the New Year, the Bruin staff is preparing for the stretch run for the class of 2011, a class that will consist of anywhere between 14-20 recruits. After a fruitful spring evaluation period, they've had some setbacks, with three decommitments (two on the offensive line, one at receiver) since.

UCLA has eight commitments, three on the defensive side – two at linebacker and one at defensive end.

There may be some more scholarships opening up, with early graduations from current players, two the potential departure of two defensive starters to the NFL.  There is also the Sean Sheller situation and whether he'll get his sixth year of eligibility.

With Brett Hundley on campus in early January, he could be crucial to the two big visit weekends in mid-January (the 14th and 21st), in spending time with the other commits.  After his official visit in December, several of the recruits visiting commented on his enthusiasm and desire to recruit others.

So here is a look at the prospects UCLA will likely be targeting for the 2011 class on the defensive side of the ball the rest of the way.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

UCLA will probably take up to two defensive ends in 2011. The defensive end class in general in the West is outstanding for 2011, and UCLA has already offered a few of the top pass-rushers in the region as well as a couple of more nationally. It seems, though, that the Bruins are generally on the outside looking in on many of them, save the commitment from Tai.

Sam Tai, 6-3, 230, Henderson (Nev.) Liberty.  COMMITTED.  Tai is just scratching the surface of his potential and his best football is still ahead of him.  He committed to the Bruins in November and took an official in December, and he'll enroll next month and be eligible to participate in spring ball.  Tai is LDS, but he's not sure when he'll take his mission.  Tai played quarterback and defensive end at Liberty, but he's a straight pass rusher in college. Offered. 

Brennan Scarlett, 6-4, 245, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic.  Scarlett comes from the same school that produced Oregon legend Joey Harrington, so many felt like the Ducks would be a heavy factor in his recruitment, but he's pretty much eliminated the Ducks, and Oregon State is likely running sixth for his services.  Scarlett took five official visits, with UCLA being his final visit.  He's set to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  If Stanford admits him, they will be tough to beat, but as of now, he's not been admitted, so this may take past the Army Game.  Offered. 

Faigame Lopa, 6-2, 245, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant.  Lopa has recorded over 40 sacks the past two seasons, but is often overlooked because he lines up next to a five-star tackle in Moala.  But Lopa is a talent in his own right and the Bruins wisely offered late last month.  Lopa said he will take an official visit in January, and UCLA would love to add a player of his caliber, from a school like Grant.  Offered. 

Other Defensive Ends to watch:
Jarmauria Rasco, 6-4, 251, Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian- Offered
Ian Seau, 6-4, 235, Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon
Cody Kurz, 6-3, 245, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (2)

UCLA signed four guys in 2010 projected to play defensive tackle, but can never have too many of them, so you can expect the Bruins to try to sign two more in 2011, with two (Marsh and Epanesa) playing in 2010 and two redshirting (Flowers and Willis).

Christian Heyward, 6-3.5, 266, San Diego (Calif.) Point Loma.  The most versatile lineman in San Diego County in the class of 2011, Heyward is a load up front, quick enough to be a defensive end, big and strong enough to play inside, and he's very similar in style of play to Cassius Marsh with his quickness off the ball and good length.  UCLA offered him very early in the process and the Bruins are doing well with Heyward.  He's visited Arizona and USC and plans to visit UCLA and Oregon in January and he'll announce on Signing Day.  Offered

Kevin McReynolds, 6-3, 285, Washington (D.C.) St. John's.  McReynolds took an unofficial visit to UCLA in August and indicated then that he planned to return to Westwood for an official visit.  He followed through on that with a visit in December and he raved about the visit, and UCLA has to be considered one of the frontrunners for him.  He also visited Syracuse and will visit Oregon and Arkansas in January.  UCLA is hoping that the impact from the first official visit lasts.  Offered.

Danny Shelton, 6-3, 286, Auburn (Wash.).  Shelton is a player we've seen a lot of the past few years, and he's a load in the trenches.  Rick Neuheisel went to see him when the Bruins played Washington, but they're on the outside looking in for him, with this an Oregon-Washington battle.  Offered.

Viliami Moala, 6-3, 330, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant.  California's top defensive tackle, Moala is coveted by schools from all over the country, from the Pac-10 down to LSU, Florida and Alabama.  Moala has visited USC, Arizona State and Washington and said he will visit Oregon State.  UCLA is a longshot for him, but they've had an in-home, so they're still somewhat breathing  Offered.

Other Defensive Tackles to watch:
Darian Cooper, 6-1, 290, Hyatsville (Md.) DeMatha.- Offered
Mickey Johnson, 6-1, 310, Covington (La.) St. Paul's- Offered
Todd Peat, 6-3, 300, Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol- Offered
Nathan Falo, 6-1, 305, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum
 

LINEBACKERS

UCLA signed four linebackers in the 2011 class, but lost one to off-the-field issues in Shirley. They've already signed one in Hofmeister and have a commitment from Wallace, so they'll likely take one more if they get one of their offered guys who wants to come, such as Stewart.

Aaron Wallace, 6-3, 205, San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo. COMMITTED.  Wallace has some good bloodlines, with his father an All-American at Texas A&M and a longtime NFL player.  One of his college teammates was Todd Howard, now UCLA's defensive line coach.  Wallace was one of the top performers at UCLA's camp during the summer and landed an offer as a result. He then picked the Bruins on national television, giving UCLA their first defensive verbal.  He tore a ligament in his ankle and missed his entire senior season, but he's graduated and will enroll in January so he can work in Spring ball.  Offered

Ryan Hofmeister, 6-1, 210, Riverside (Calif.) College.COMMITTED.  Hofmeister is already signed with UCLA, doing so last week, as he was a full qualifier out of high school.  He prepped at Vista Murrieta (Calif.) HS, but his only offer was from Navy, so he opted for the JC route, and hoped to land an offer after one year.  That happened, with offers from Colorado, Kansas State and UCLA, and he took the Bruins' offer.  Hofmeister will enroll in the spring and be able to participate in spring practice.  Offered

Tony Steward, 6-1, 215, St. Augustine (Fla.) Menendez.  Steward is the nation's premier middle linebacker and is coveted by the entire country.  But UCLA has gotten Steward to come out for an official visit in December, and he was completely wowed by his trip.  Clemson and Florida State are the other two schools he's seriously considering along with the Bruins, but the word is the Noles are the team to beat for the in-state star.  Offered

Anthony Sarao, 6-1, 220, Absecon (N.J.) Holy Spirit.  UCLA is trying to get Sarao out for a visit, but their chances to sway him from Stanford took a big hit when he was admitted into The Farm.  With rumors of Vic Fangio, Stanford's DC, being a candidate at UCLA, that could have some influence, but its rare that Stanford loses a committed admit.  Offered

Leilon Willingham, 6-2, 235, Denver (Colo.) Mullen.  The defensive anchor for the Colorado powerhouse, Willingham got a recent offer from UCLA but has been relatively quiet for the past few months, so we're not sure what UCLA's chances are with him.  He's taken a pair of official visits, to Pac-10 schools, but with the new Colorado coaching staff in place, they'll likely make a big push for him.  Offered

Other Linebackers to watch:
Shaquille Moseley, 6-3, 225, Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Woodson Greer, 6-2, 215, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Lavonte Barnett, 6-2, 225, Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete
 

CORNERBACKS (1-2)

UCLA would like to add another cornerback to the mix, perhaps even two.  They're doing well with the top pure cover corner in the West and they're keeping a watch on several others.

Stefan McClure, 5-11, 175, Vista (Calif.).  The top defensive back in San Diego, McClure was a player who really impressed us last fall when we saw him.  He's a bigtime physical player for Vista, really good against the run, but even better in coverage. He's one of the better corners in the West in the class of 2011, and UCLA was his favorite school growing up.  McClure has a handful of offers, and UCLA is at the top for him, while he's also strongly considering Washington as well as Miami, Oregon State and Arizona.  Offered. 

DeAnthony Thomas, 5-11, 175, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw.  The top prospect in the West, Thomas is a special talent.  He's committed to USC and every time he's been asked publicly how solid he is, he's reiterated his commitment to the Trojans is very solid. Still, many are speculating that he could still look around and he's planning to take some official visits.  While schools like Washington and Florida are often mentioned with him, the feeling is that he's not leaving Los Angeles for college. It's probably a pipe dream more than anything, but crazier things have happened with SC commits and SC locks under Neuheisel.  Offered. 

Mercy Maston, 5-11, 185, Bakersfield (Calif.).  Maston showed up at UCLA's two camps during the summer and did a stellar job and landed himself an offer from the Bruins.  Maston is one of the top prospects from Central California and a player that UCLA thinks highly of, which is reciprocated with Maston having the Bruins atop his leaderboard.  Maston was going to commit in November, but decided to hold off, get a couple of academic things in order, and wait until January to take his visits, with a likely Signing Day announcement.  Offered

Other Cornerbacks to watch:
Thierry Nguema, 6-0, 175, Corona (Calif.) Santiago. 
Kris Olugbode, 5-10, 185, San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep
 

SAFETIES (1)

UCLA has many young safeties on its roster and, with Dietrich Riley's emergence in 2011, UCLA is probably only looking to bring in one safety in the class of 2011, even if Rahim Moore leaves. 

Byron Moore, 6-2, 200, Los Angeles (Calif.) Harbor.  Moore was a one-time UCLA commit- back in the spring of 2008.  He then was offered by USC and signed with the Trojans,  After spending a year in Troy, he left to go to Harbor, where he was a star.  Now, more schools are recruiting him, as either a corner or safety, and he's open to either position.  Ole Miss, Tennessee and Ohio State have gotten visits and Miami and Oregon State will next month.  Moore said he will take an unofficial visit to UCLA in January and will decide closer to Signing Day.  He has three years to play three wherever he ends up.  Offered.

Wayne Lyons, 6-1, 190, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard.  Lyons is another stellar prospect from the Sunshine State, who's offer list spans the country.  Lyons had an outstanding visit to UCLA this fall and the Bruins made huge strides in landing him.  They really sold the academic angle, and for good reason; Lyons is an excellent student who's very serious about his education.  The hard part for UCLA will be staying in it as he takes other official visits.  But the trip in September left a big impression.  Offered.

Marqise Lee, 6-1, 185, Gardena (Calif.) Serra.  Lee is California's top safety prospect and he's emerging as one of the West's premier playmakers.  UCLA officially offered him in September, and around the same time, USC offered him.  His best friend is George Farmer, who's a USC commit, so the Trojans definitely have a huge in-road there, and Lee is also very serious about Oregon, especially showing more of a desire to play receiver at the next level, and Oregon needing some.  UCLA is still making a push for him, but they've got their work cut out.  Offered.

Other Safeties to watch:
Aaron Almond, 5-11, 195, Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch
Jerry Haymon, 6-0, 185, Fresno (Calif.) Central
Taj Teague, 6-1, 205, Pomona (Calif.)
 


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