2012 Recruiting Reset: Defense

We take a look at where UCLA stands on the defensive side of the ball in the 2012 recruiting class, and who their main remaining targets are...

Two games into the season, UCLA stands 1-1.

More importantly, though, is where they stand with recruits.

How UCLA does in recruiting on Signing Day 2012 is completely dependent on how UCLA does the rest of the season. Whatever list of names we put out now is probably going to be different than one next February 2012 – because either one of two scenarios will happen: 1) UCLA has an unsuccessful season, there could be a change in the coaching position and the Bruins get a boost from the new head coach, albeit very late in the recruiting season, or 2) Neuheisel and the team rip off a successful rest of the 2011 season, recruits get inspired and jump on board and the list of names has changed significantly from what we released now.

If you want to look at it from an optimistic perspective, both are win-win recruiting scenarios, right? Even if scenario #1 might require a considerable process of pain during the season for Bruin fans, it still more than likely would result in an improved recruiting landscape for UCLA with the 2012 class than it is currently experiencing. And, of course, scenario #2 would be ideal (well, for most Bruin fans who want to see Neuheisel succeed) since, first and foremost, a successful 2011 season is the priority.

Last year at about this time, and throughout the spring, summer and fall, we asserted that 2011 recruits were in wait-and-see mode on UCLA, wanting to wait until the 2010 season to help them make their decision over the UCLA program. Well, we saw what an unsuccessful 2010 season did to the recruiting class. UCLA plainly lost a good amount of recruits you could easily assert it would have gotten had it been successful on the field in 2010. You could say, then, that 2012 recruits are in a very heightened level of wait-and-see mode with UCLA over the 2011 season.

As we've said before, if there was a time in terms of recruiting for this to happen, the 2011 class for UCLA was perhaps optimal. Neuheisel has sold recruits in the last few recruiting classes on the program's potential, and essentially loaded up with top-ten national recruiting classes in doing it. The 2011 class was, then, always going to be a small one, without many rides to give, and if you look at UCLA's projected depth chart for the next couple of years, barring transfers, it looks pretty deep and talented.

UCLA will have anywhere from 15-18 scholarships to give in the 2012 class, and they have 12 commits so far, six on offense and six on defense.

Here is a look at the realistic targets for UCLA in the class of 2012.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

UCLA will probably take up to two defensive ends in 2012. The defensive end class in general in the West is average, but UCLA has already offered a few of the top pass-rushers in the region as well as a couple of more nationally.

Eli Ankou, 6-3, 245, Orleans (Ont.) St. Peter.  COMMITTED.  The Canadian prospect got his first offer from UCLA and the Bruins are no stranger signing players from Canada, signing Anthony Thompson in the 2011 class.  Ankou is a good student too, with offers also coming from Vanderbilt and Virginia.  He's been stellar on the camp circuit and he hit up UCLA this summer for a camp, while also hitting camps at USC and Stanford.  A couple of weeks after he visited UCLA, he committed to the Bruins. It's thought he could potentially be a defensive tackle a few years down the line.  Ankou recently told Scout.com he plans to take some officials. Offered. 

Morgan Breslin, 6-3, 250, Diablo Valley (Calif.) College.  COMMITTED.  A JC prospect, Breslin played at Walnut Creek (Calif.) Las Lomas but injuries and academics kept him from signing with anyone out of high school. Then after a year at DVC, he racked up offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah, Boise State, Purdue, San Diego State, Iowa State, Nevada and Arkansas State but he chose the Bruins.  He'll graduate in December so he can participate in spring ball in 2012.   Offered. 

DeForest Buckner, 6-7, 230, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou.  Buckner is a Punahou prospect that Breckterfield scoured the islands for, and is one of two  prospects there that UCLA would like to get (with his teammate, Steven Lakalaka, being UCLA's first commit).  Buckner remains pretty wide open and while he has a multitude of offers, he did say that Oregon, Cal and UCLA were the top three schools for him. Offered. 

Damion Turpin, 6-3, 255, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez.  One of a handful of prospects from Dominguez with a UCLA offer, Turpin raved about his time at UCLA during the spring on an unofficial visit, citing his contact with Breckterfield and defensive coordinator Jim Tresey.  He'd been kind of quiet since the early going, but UCLA is very much in the mix for him. He attended the fall scrimmage and raved about his time there and UCLA will likely get a visit from him.  Offered. 

Samson Kafovalu, 6-3.5, 245, Riverside (Calif.) Arlington.  One of the standouts at UCLA's 1-Day Camp, Kafovalu has picked up a number of offers from Western schools, and while USC was his dream school, they haven't offered and UCLA is in a good position for him.  Kafovalu also has offers from Arizona, Boise State, Colorado, Nevada, Washington and Washington State.  Offered. 

William Goodwin, 6-8, 230, Decatur (Georgia) Southwest Dekalb. "Shaq" Goodwin is one of UCLA's biggest hoops recruiting targets for 2012, a top-25 national prospect for basketball. But he's insisting he wants to play both football and basketball in college, and he's an eccentric enough personality to actually go through with it. If he did, Scout.com football recruiting experts who have seen him on the gridiron say he'd be a top 10 national defensive end prospect. Physically and athletically he'd be a freak of a defensive end, with speed, explosion and length to go with the 6-8 body that will easily end up 250 within a couple of years. He's only 16 years old, too. The word is that it's between UCLA and Georgia for him, but UCLA has his former AAU coach, Korey McCray now on the UCLA basketball staff, and an AAU teammate, Jordan Adams, verbally committed to the Bruins. The issue is whether he will, indeed, go through with playing football. Offered.

Nate Iese, 6-4, 245, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. A new name to the list, Iese is someone who caught our eye for the first time at the Stanford NFTC last May and his stock has grown since then.  He's got double-digit offers, including a number from the Pac-12, with UCLA being one of his more recent offers.  He visited Washington State last weekend, his first Pac-12 offer (and a school who signed his teammate Mansel Simmons in February) and he plans to take some more trips.  Offered.

Other Defensive Ends to watch:
Faith Ekakitie, 6-3, 275, Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy- Offered
Antonio Perez, 6-2, 230, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon
Johnny Stuart, 6-4, 255, Westlake (Calif.)
 

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (2)

UCLA signed two guys in 2010 projected to play defensive tackle, and you can never have too many of them, so you can expect the Bruins to try to sign 3-4 more in 2012.  The problem is, and this seems to be a recurring problem, is that the West is pretty barren with defensive tackle prospects.

Ellis McCarthy, 6-5, 295, Monrovia (Calif.).  The top defensive tackle prospect in the West, McCarthy got his first offer from UCLA and the Bruins were his favorite school growing up.  But as is often the case with elite defensive lineman, they get offers from all over and McCarthy isn't any different, with several schools like Florida and LSU throwing their name into the ring.  USC has also made McCarthy a priority too.  His most recent top schools included USC, Cal, Oregon, Florida and Washington with UCLA finally getting re-mentioned in that group.  Significant was that he attended the UCLA-San Jose State game on Saturday and did not attend USC's game with Utah.  McCarthy may be the most significant recruit UCLA is on in this class, with elite potential.  Offered

Aziz Shittu, 6-4, 270, Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony.  The DL MVP at the Los Angeles NFTC, Shittu committed to Stanford back in April, but opened things up.  UCLA was one of three schools he said would be finalists before he committed to the Cardinal.  He attended a spring practice and the Bruins didn't give up recruiting him during the eval period and Shittu told us earlier this summer that he'll likely visit UCLA officially and they were definitely in his top ten.  He's certainly enjoying the process and all that comes with it and seems to have a new list daily but UCLA just wants to stay on the "real" list for as long as possible.  Offered

Other Defensive Tackles to watch:
Eddie Goldman, 6-4, 300, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy.- Offered
Kamden Hilliard, 6-2, 261, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Drew James, 6-2, 265, Corona (Calif.)
Vaha Vainuku, 6-3, 295, Salt Lake City (Utah) East

LINEBACKERS

UCLA signed three linebackers in the 2011 class, two from the prep ranks (Orloff and Wallace) and one from the JC ranks (Hofmeister, who's got four to play three).  There aren't a ton of middle linebackers in the West, but there is a decent number of outside linebackers.  UCLA's three linebackers in the 2011 class were all outside backers.  Several of UCLA's top targets all committed to Pac-12 schools. The Bruins could take three again in 2012.

Aaron Porter, 6-2, 230, La Habra (Calif.).  COMMITTED.  The top middle linebacker in the West, Porter had numerous Pac-12 offers as well as from Boise State.  UCLA was his favorite school and he's also a talented baseball player and UCLA was recruiting him to play both sports.  The four-star linebacker committed to the Bruins on the 4th of July and is the defensive headliner so far in the Bruins' recruiting class.  Offered

Deaysean Rippy, 6-2, 200, McKees Rocks (Penn.) Sto-Rox.  The Pennsylvania said during the summer at Gridiron Kings that UCLA along with Pittsburgh and Nebraska, were his top three.  UCLA has offered his close friend, Justin Combs, and the two have been very vocal in saying that they were a package deal, and the Bruins are doing very well with Combs, so if they get a verbal from Combs, that certainly won't hurt with Rippy.  Offered

Jeremiah Allison, 6-1, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey.  Allison got his first offer from UCLA early in the spring and has since picked up another four offers.  He's recorded 40 sacks the past two season as a defensive end for Jordan, but knows he's a linebacker in college so he's been diligently playing linebacker at every camp and 7on7 he's gone to.  Allison is an excellent student, with a 4.0.  UCLA is doing well with him, though he is hoping for a Stanford offer.  Boise State and Arizona also remain heavily in the mix for him.  Offered

Reshawn Hooker, 6-2, 200, Fontana (Calif.) A.B. Miller.  Hooker is a guy who's more likely set to play in the secondary in college- not the biggest, but with good range and speed.  The Bruins offered him earlier in July and they joined Boise State as his leader but recently he said that Arizona was his leader.  Offered

Ryan McDaniel, 6-1, 220, Torrance (Calif.) North.  One of the top two-way threats in the Southland, McDaniel is also a very gifted running back, but his desire for college is to play linebacker.  Arizona State and Washington lead UCLA and USC for him, but many feel like it will be tough to get him out of Southern California.  Still, he's remained pretty adamant that the Sun Devils lead.  Offered

Thomas Brown, 6-2, 220, Gardena (Calif.) Serra.  A transfer to Serra from St. Anthony's in Long Beach, Brown has some work to do academically, but he did well at UCLA's camp earlier this spring, and if he gets his grades in order, UCLA could end up offering him.  Brown said that UCLA wants to watch his first few games before making a decision on offering him.  Offered

Jared Afalava, 6-1, 225, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham. One of the premier defensive prospects in Utah, Afalava has recently seen his stock grow, with a number of Pac-12 offers.  The two in-state schools have both offered, and though he's LDS, he doesn't seem to be as high on BYU as he is with Utah.  Those two schools have traditionally done well at Bingham, the state power.  But UCLA is trying and he's cousins with current Bruin freshman Sam Tai.  Afalava said he'd possibly be visiting UCLA in the fall, but his recent top three didn't include the Bruins.  Offered

Ifeadi Odenigbo, 6-3.5, 217, Centerville (Ohio). The number three outside backer in the country, Odenigbo's offer sheet spans the country, with three Pac-12 schools, all in the Golden State, Cal, Stanford and UCLA, on it.  While many think he'll stay in the Midwest, he's got family out West and said he plans to visit during the fall officially.  Offered

Other Linebackers to watch:
Darnell Murray, 6-0, 210, Perris (Calif.) Citrus Hill
Lavell Sanders, 6-1, 190, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
Robert Wagner, 6-2, 215, Ontario (Calif.) Colony
Brian Guendling, 6-4, 215, Poway (Calif.)
 

CORNERBACKS (2-3)

UCLA needs to add at least two cornerbacks, but more likely three, to the mix, after not signing any last season (Anthony Thompson, after participating in spring practice, projects as a safety).  They've gotten verbals from two of them already.

Raymond Ford, 5-9, 160, Gardena (Calif.) Serra.  COMMITTED.  UCLA has made no bones that  they want to recruit at Serra, one of the more prolific programs in the Southland.  They've struck out there a lot the past few years, but this year's top prospect, Ford, chose the Bruins last month after getting an offer from UCLA at their camp.  Ford is a big-game player, he shines when the lights are brightest.  When he's putting the consistent effort forward, very few players can match him. Offered. 

Shannon Edwards, 5-10, 175, Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview.  COMMITTED.  Speed is what Edwards has, and a lot of it.  UCLA offered him after their camp after he ripped off a 4.4 in the forty.  He also had offers from Oregon State and Washington State before he jumped almost immediately on the Bruins' offer. Offered. 

Kevon Seymour, 6-0, 175, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir.  UCLA was one of Seymour's early offers, but he's gotten big nationally, and the longtime USC fan got an offer from the Trojans in mid-May.  That put USC in the lead for him and the feeling was that they'd be the ones who end up with his commitment, and possibly sooner rather than later.  But since then, Seymour has gone relatively quiet, and given no indication that a commitment to the Trojans is imminent.  In fact, he spent several fall practices at UCLA and was at the scrimmage and said that UCLA was his co-leader.  His twin brother is a baseball player whom UCLA is also recruiting and that could play a role. Offered

Ishmael Adams, 5-10, 185, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian.  Adams has a number of offers from all around the country but seems to be favoring the West Coast schools.  He moved to Oaks Christian before his junior year after playing his first two seasons in Georgia, but in his time out West, he's grown an affinity for the region.  UCLA is doing well with him and some felt like they could be leading for him, but Cal offered him and now the Bears and Bruins are the clear leaders for him.  He said he'll likely visit Cal officially and UCLA unofficially because of it's proximity to home, but the Bruins are very heavily in the mix for him.  Offered. 

Brandon Beaver, 6-1, 195, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez.  Beaver was a one-time silent commit to the Bruins, and has long been favoring UCLA, but slowed things down.  He's visiting Nebraska next month and said that Washington will also get an official visit from him.  He said that Arizona is also likely to get an official and he's debating a UCLA visit, being that it's so close.  Offered. 

Marcus Rios, 6-0, 175, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks.  A longtime commit to Boise State, Rios is one of the top pure cover corners in the West and his father told us over the weekend he'll likely be taking an official visit to UCLA this fall (and potentially as soon as this weekend).  Rios remains solidly committed to Boise State, but UCLA is trying and coaches were at his game on Friday to check him out.  Offered. 

Justin Combs, 5-9, 175, New Rochelle (N.Y.) Iona Prep. The son of hip-hip icon Sean Combs, the younger Combs has made a name for himself with his skills on the gridiron.  He was offered by UCLA last month when in town for an unofficial visit for the Fall Scrimmage, and got a lot of attention from the UCLA coaching staff.  He said UCLA is very much in the mix for him and as we've stated before, he's tight with Deaysean Rippy, a linebacker the Bruins are after and want to bring in.  And the two have said they're a package deal. Offered. 

Other Cornerbacks to watch:
Kenneth Crawley, 6-1, 185, Washington (D.C.) Woodson- Offered 
Randall Goforth, 5-10, 175, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly- Offered (Committed to Arizona State)
Alphonso Marsh, 6-3, 185, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
Dalis Bruce, 5-11, 185, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Diamonte Wiggins, 6-3, 175, Lynwood (Calif.)

SAFETIES (2)

Initially, on Signing Day last February, it appeared UCLA wasn't going to sign a safety in the class of 2011. But they ended up getting a commitment from Anthony Thompson. Thompson enrolled for spring practice and plugged in at safety.  So UCLA will still be looking for some impact safety prospects in 2012, with a handful of offers out.

Jerico Richardson, 6-1, 185, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany.  COMMITTED.  Richardson is UCLA's most recent commitment, picking the Bruins on Saturday before the San Jose State game.  His first and only offer was from UCLA.  Richardson has nice versatility, he could play corner (where he's better built), but the UCLA staff wants him as a safety.  He's also close friends with 2013 prospect Steven Mitchell, who UCLA has already offered.  Offered.

Shaquille Thompson, 6-2, 210, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant.  The top skill prospect in the West, Thompson was an easy five-star, and could be at running back too.  He's built like a mack truck and is the most college ready skill prospect in the West.  The younger brother of former Cal defensive back Syd'Quan Thompson, the younger committed to Cal but then a week later, decommitted, saying he wants to go through all of his options.  While the feeling is that he'll still end up with the Golden Bears, he said he will take all five trips and UCLA is one of those schools he said he'll definitely visit.  Offered.

Seth Jacobs, 6-2, 205, Arroyo Grande (Calif.).  A four-star safety from the Gold Coast of California, Jacobs has double-digit offers including from most of the Pac-12, and UCLA is a school that is high on his list.  He will be taking all five official visits and UCLA would like to grab one of those from him.  UCLA was one of the first schools to call Jacobs on September 1st.  Offered.

Zach Hoffpauir, 6-0, 200, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial.  A gifted two-sport prospect, he also is a stellar baseball player, Hoffpauir got a recent offer from UCLA and said the offer excited him.  Both of the in-state schools have offered him as well.  Offered.

Kendrick Mathis, 6-1, 185, Ventura (Calif.) Buena.  Mathis' uncle is Eric Turner, one of the finest safeties in UCLA history, and the Bruins were his favorite school growing up.  His cousin, E.J. Turner, Eric's son, was a walk-on with the Bruins and his aunt plays soccer for UCLA.  So the Bruins are a school that he's dreamed of playing at.  He's really emerged in the spring and he camped at UCLA in hopes of landing an offer but is a wait-and-see guy.  Mathis can play either safety or cornerback.  San Diego State and Washington State lead for him, but a Bruin offer could change everything.  Offered.

Other Safeties to watch:
Christian Tago, 6-0, 180, Palmdale (Calif.) Highland
Ma'ne Manaea, 6-0, 195, Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes
 


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