UCLA Recruiting Reset

With the coaching change, we take a look at where UCLA goes from here in the class of 2012 and where their current commitments stand...

Since we wrote our first UCLA recruiting reset in the spring, we emphasized the need for a good season for head coach Rick Neuheisel in order to have a good recruiting class.

Through the season, UCLA had a decent sized class of 15, but it was an average class.  There were a couple of four-stars but a smattering of two-stars, and perhaps some guys in the class that were stretches.

While Neuheisel was fired last week, UCLA is in the position of trying to hold on to their top guys, without a coach, while having to fend off other schools with stable coaching situations from poaching the top-end guys.

When the new coach is hired, he and his staff will have to look through the recruiting board and see who the best fits are for whatever he wants to do offensively and defensively. 

We've heard that all offers will be honored and every commit has echoed that.  But there could be some commits who are encouraged to look at all of their options.

In the meantime, the assistants are hitting the road for in-home visits and recruiting coordinator Patrick Girardi and assistant recruiting coordinator Matt Bernstein are working the phones to high school coaches and answering a flurry of incoming phone calls from recruits, families and coaches.

In fact, it's safe to say that Bernstein and Girardi have been a huge reason for UCLA's recruiting class so far, not just the commits, but staying in the game for so many top recruits (Ellis McCarthy, Arik Armstead, etc.) in the face of Neuheisel's looming firing.

And Bernstein and Girardi have been a big part of UCLA not yet losing any commits despite Neuheisel's firing.  Both of them are rising stars in that side of recruiting and their efforts will be instrumental for the new coaching staff and could go a very long way in keeping them on the football staff with the new hire.

Since Neuheisel's firing, UCLA has landed three commits, all from defensive backs, though they had three defensive back commitments before.  All had offers from Neuheisel and while they've committed, it will be like all of the previous 15 verbals in that they'll all see how they'll fit into whatever the new system is when the new hiring is made.

Those commitments are cornerback Justin Combs, cornerback Paul Perkins and safety Trayvon Watson.

But where does UCLA stand with their current commits?  We've talked to almost all of them since Neuheisel's firing for their response.

RB Steven Lakalaka, 5-11, 185, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou.  Lakalaka was the first verbal to the Bruins, and he said last week the day Neuheisel was let go, that he was 100% solid.

FB Psalm Wooching, 6-3, 215, Kailua Kona (Hawaii) Kealakehe. Wooching committed the day after Lakalaka and he too said he's committed, but with the caveat that he was waiting for more information.  We spoke with his father on Monday and they said they're still excited about UCLA and about which new coach was hired.  Wooching's advantage is his versatility- he was a natural F-Back fit but he's also able to play linebacker and UCLA was leaning more towards that so a new offensive system may not affect him.

TE Ian Taubler, 6-6, 250, Fresno (Calif.) BullardTaubler is getting a lot of attention from USC and Washington in addition to UCLA.  As a tight end, he was a good fit in UCLA's offense, but a new offense brings uncertainty.  Taubler could also play defensive end, but his hear lies on offense.  Washington had an in-home last week and USC was by the school this week.  He'll visit both USC and Washington officially next month along with UCLA.

C Hiva Lutui, 6-3, 280, Euless (Texas) Trinity.  One of the premier interior linemen nationally, Lutui had a slew of offers from the Southwest, but he chose the Bruins.  On the heels of Neuheisel's firing, though, Lutui said while he's still committed, he's going to visit Utah and USC.

OG Isaiah Folasa, 6-3, 335, Corona (Calif.) Santiago.  Lutui's cousin, Folasa is another who's said he's solid to UCLA regardless of the coaching situation.

OG Mario Yakoo, 6-4, 320, Spring Valley (Calif.) Steele Canyon.  Yakoo said that when he committed, most schools backed off but he said last week that since Neuheisel's firing, he expects some schools to pick things up with him.

DE Eli Ankou, 6-3, 245, Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian Academy.  Ankou got a nice call from Neuheisel last week wishing him luck and encouraging to stick with the Bruins.  That is Ankou's plan for now, though he said he may take some official visits still.  But Ankou said he chose UCLA for more than the coaching and football.

MLB Aaron Porter, 6-2, 230, La Habra (Calif.). Porter is the defensive headliner so far in the Bruins' recruiting class and has been the most heavily recruited of UCLA's verbals this entire year, despite a July commitment.  Porter has been a lifelong UCLA fan, so the Bruins have that in their favor, and he also wants to play baseball, which UCLA will allow him to do.  He said with the right coach, he's sticking with UCLA, but he'll be taking the longest look at UCLA's coaching situation and he's certainly one of the key's to this class.

CB Raymond Ford, 5-9, 160, Gardena (Calif.) Serra.  Ford took an official visit to SMU last weekend and he said the day Neuheisel was fired that he's basically opening things up.  In UCLA's favor is that Arizona State could have been considered their toughest competition for Ford, but they're going through a long coaching change of their own.  UCLA has the advantage of being the local school, but if Arizona State hires June Jones and his SMU staff, that could swing it towards the Sun Devils.

S Jerico Richardson, 6-1, 185, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany.  Richardson's first and only offer was from UCLA and he said he's remaining committed to the Bruins.

K Ka'imi Fairbairn, 6-0, 165, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou.  Fairbairn said last week that he's committed to the school and wants to be at UCLA.  Since, though, Cal has offered and he still may take some visits.  Ultimately though, we expect him to stick with UCLA.

OG Lacy Westbrook, 6-5, 300, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez.  Westbrook committed to UCLA late in the season when it looked like Neuheisel may be on his last legs, so its obvious that he has strong feelings for UCLA.  That said, we spoke with him after his SMU visit and he loved the visit and he wants to also visit Washington and Arizona State.  If the SMU staff ends up at Arizona State, that could bode very well for the Sun Devils.  Washington is where a couple of teammates are leaning, but we've heard that the Huskies aren't as high on his list as some of the other schools. Westbrook though said that UCLA is still his leader and he still considers himself a commit.  This will be one to watch.

DE Morgan Breslin, 6-3, 250, Diablo Valley (Calif.) College.  Breslin visited Colorado over the weekend and he's another one who genuinely seems torn about what he should do.  It's likely that the staff recruiting him will be let go and being a JC guy, he's in a tougher position.  UCLA is where he wants to go but being a JUCO puts him in a different place than the others.  He's another UCLA will have to work on.

CB Shannon Edwards, 5-10, 175, Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview.  Edwards said within minutes of Neuheisel's firing that he was 100% committed to UCLA and not considering anyone else.

S Laiu Moeakiola, 6-0, 195, Euless (Texas) Trinity.  Moeakiola said he may take some official trips to other schools, but he said that when he committed so that isn't a surprise.  He could be attached to what Lutui does, though.  Still, he has family in Southern California, so the Bruins have that in their corner.

OL Xavier Su'a-Filo.  Amongst everyone in the class of 2012, no one is more crucial to this class than Su'a-Filo. A starter in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2009, Su'a-Filo left to serve his LDS mission after that season, a huge blow to the Bruins' offensive line the past two seasons.  Su'a-Filo may be the best and most talented offensive lineman since the Andy Meyers/Chad Overhauser/Kris Farris trio in 1997, and was an instant impact guy as a freshman.  Before the season, we heard from numerous people close to him that said Su'a-Filo would absolutely be back at UCLA after his mission, but that was before the 2011 season started.  Then in early November, we heard he has registered for classes at UCLA for the spring quarter, which is a huge relief for Bruin fans.  As we've stated before, there isn't anyone more crucial in this class than Su'a-Filo and he'll almost assuredly slide back into his spot at left tackle (assuming the offense goes back that route), and allow Jeff Baca to move over to Mike Harris' vacant spot and give UCLA their best set of tackles in quite some time.

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