Football Recruiting: Running Backs

With some elite running backs on the west coast, and a couple in UCLA's own backyard, such as Lorenzo Booker and Marcus O'Keith, look for there to be a big recruiting battle for running backs in this recruiting season...

RUNNING BACK

UCLA will more than likely try to bring in only one tailback with this next recruiting class. Even though they brought in a couple last year and Manuel White is already on the roster, there is a definite opportunity for a faster, scat-back type of back to come in and immediately contribute. And, coincidentally, most of the stand-out running backs in this class on the west coast are that type.

Lorenzo Booker, 5-11, 180, 4.4, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. Probably one of the top three in the country, if not the best. UCLA will be in a battle for him. USC is pulling out all the stops, and the Florida States of the world are beating a path to his door. He has said in the past that he wants to stay local and, before all of the attention, UCLA was his favorite. But it's going to be a long battle for this one, and anything can happen.

Marcus O'Keith, 5-11, 170, 4.4, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne. Quick, fast and shifty, O'Keith is emerging as possibly among the best running backs in the country. He tested very well at the San Diego Nike camp. Cal is thought to be the leader, mostly, though, because Cal was the first to offer, showed the most interest, and O'Keith is close with former-Narbonne player and current Cal safety, Nnamdi Asomugha. He also has said he likes UCLA, Michigan, USC and others. The prevailing thought here is that if UCLA offered him and went hard after him they'd have a very good shot.

Kellen Marshalll, 5-11, 175, 4.4, Las Vegas (Nev.) Cimmarron Memorial. Emerging as one of the best on the west coast and making many national lists, Marshall is a guy to definitely watch. He is considered probably one of the fastest tailbacks in the west, probably a step faster than the other top running backs in the west. UCLA has been on him for a while. He says Florida State is his favorite, but FSU might not come to Nevada for a running back, and UCLA is his second favorite. Also a good student.

Tristan George, 5-10, 185, Berkeley (Calif.) St. Mary's. Shorter, more compact, but packing some power and great speed, George could be the sleeper of the west coast. He's not mentioned that much on recruiting lists, but college coaches know him well and many are showing him a lot of interest. Pac-10 schools are on him (of course, Cal), and he's among the top, elite running backs UCLA likes.

DeShawn Wynn, 6-0, 210, 4.4, Cincinnati (0hio) Reading. Considered the best running back in the east and many insist in the country. Wynn is big and fast, which tends to get a lot of colleges after you. UCLA will be trying to fight among the Big 10 and others for him.

Herschel Dennis, 5-9, 185, 4.4, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Dennis is one of the top handful of running backs in the west. He's pretty small but very tough, and breaks tackles well, while being one of the shiftiest backs you'll see this year. Dennis has long thought to be a heavy lean to USC, which is still probably true. He tells just about everyone at Poly he's going to USC. But Dennis did attend UCLA's final spring scrimmage and hung around a long time after talking to the coaches.

Frederick Collins, 6-0, 190, 4.6, La Quinta (Calif.) High. Collins had a great junior year and, coming off that year, was thought to be one of the best in the west and was mentioned on many national lists. Collins is big and very tough, breaking tackle after tackle, but might lack the explosiveness of the other running back prospects on this list. No matter, UCLA and other schools are still pursuing him. He told us at the San Diego Nike camp that he was very wide open, liked the Pac-10, as well as Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.

Kenny James, ATH/DB, 5-10, 180, Dos Palos (Calif.) High. James is thought to be one of the best in the west, quick and shifty, and had one of the best junior years of any running back in the west. He legitimately has many big-named programs on his list and many reports are that USC is his favorite.

Kenneth Darby, 5-11, 185,4.5, Hunstville (Ala.) Butler. Darby is considered one of the best running backs in the south, and UCLA has specifically targeted him, along with Florida, LSU, Alabama, Nebraska and some other big names. Alabama will try to keep him local, and it's a chore for UCLA to fight off southern schools for a southern recruit, but UCLA has some connections to Darby.

Curtis Brown, 5-10, 185, Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete. With the explosion of west coast running backs like Booker, Dennis, O'Keith and Marshall, Brown is a prospect that has gotten somewhat overlooked. He attended many UCLA games last year and the theory is that if UCLA showed him a lot of attention and offered, he'd commit. It's a matter, though, if UCLA will.

Loren Wade, ATH, 6-1, 200, 4.6, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. One of the best running backs in SoCal this year, Wade is a big back that could end up at another position in college - possibly fullback, possibly safety or linebacker. Wade has said he favors USC, while his teammate, Eric McNeal, has committed to UCLA, and other teammate, WR/DB/ATH Dominic Roux also favors UCLA.

Wale Forrester, 5-10, 190, Venice (Calif.) High. Forrester is one of the better L.A.-area running backs, and is considered to be athletic enough that he might be recruited as an athlete for college. He's on UCLA's list to watch.

Lavell Lemon, ATH/DB, 6-0, 185, Inglewood (Calif.) High. Lemon is another SoCal running back who could also be recruited as an athlete or a defensive back.

Robbie DuBois, 5-11, 185, Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. Had a stand-out junior year and received a lot of attention, but the word is that he's not in good shape academically.

Randy Hill, 6-2, 195, Tempe (Ariz.) McClintock. Considered the best in Arizona this year, Hill is a big, strong back that might be considered as a fullback. He has shown good quickness, recording a 4.04 shuttle time.

FULLBACK

This list is a little short, mostly because of the nature of the position. With fullbacks, you don't necessarily have to recruit many of them because, well, it's only one position, and it's a position that you can fill from another position.

Tristan Walker, 6-1, 210, Claremont (Calif.) High. With a lack of big running backs in California this year, Walker really stands out. He's run a 4.4 40 and jumped 36 inches in the vertical, and could easily put on some bulk and muscle. UCLA is intrigued with him, as are more and more programs.

Rick Alvis, 6-1, 240, Metamora (Ill.) High. Considered one of the best fullbacks in the country. He's big, quick, can block well and has good hands. He has said that UCLA is among his favorites, along with Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Hey, you have to give UCLA credit for even being on that list.

Collin Pederson, 6-1, 230, Gig Harbor (Wash.) Peninsula. UCLA and other schools have discovered this fullback and are recruiting him. He reportedly is athletic for his size and a good blocker.

Brandon Gresham, 6-0, 220, Tulare (Calif.) Tulare Union. UCLA is on his very eclectic list of schools that include Penn State, Colorado, Cal State Northridge and Washington State. UCLA is watching and evaluating.

Frank Willis, 6-2, 230, Navarre (Fla.) High. Willis is thought of as one of the best in the southwest. He has connections to the west coast and lists UCLA, along with the Florida schools, Auburn, Alabama and others.

Neal Martin, 5-11, 213, Spring Valley (Calif.) Monte Vista. Martin had a very impressive showing at the San Diego Nike camp. He was a complete stud. When he held the pads, the other running backs couldn't budge him. And he enjoyed doing it. When he hit someone he blew him off the line. UCLA is evaluating him.

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