2012 Recruiting Reset: Defense

We take a look at where UCLA stands on the offensive side of the ball in the 2012 recruiting class, with what has become, in essence, a brand new recruiting board...

When we first started writing resets about a decade ago, it was to, obviously, reset the recruiting class at various points in the year.

But with the hiring of Jim Mora at UCLA, and his subsequent hiring of stellar recruiters Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin and Steve Broussard, we're past the point of a reset.

We may need to start from scratch.

Currently, UCLA has 22 commits. Of those 22, three are soft verbals. And since Rick Neuheisel was fired at the end of November, UCLA has gotten seven commitments, two while there was no coach (Combs, Watson) and five once Mora and his crew of recruiters came to Westwood.

One thing is certain, the five that committed to Mora are easily on the most solid of footing -- scouted by the new assistants and given the thumbs up by Mora. Of those five, only two, Adams and Rios, had UCLA offers from Neuheisel. Ceachir, Orjioke and Lagace receiver offers from Klemm or Martin.

Then there are the upper-tier commits that UCLA absolutely plans to keep, such as the four-star prospects Porter and Lutui (assuming he doesn't flip to one of the other Pac-12 schools he's visiting).

But then comes the downside; there could be a number of current commits that could be encouraged to look elsewhere or, best-case scenario, offered a greyshirt. You may see a flurry of decommits from this class, and one can read into them a myriad of ways.

You can almost be assured that UCLA will sign a full class of 25 in the 2012 class. At this time, the program doesn't have 25 scholarships available, but with the usual movement of players currently on the roster who will transfer once they see where they stand on the depth chart, they'll probably be able to get to 25. Ceachir is already signed, but his scholie still counts.

So as UCLA starts over, in essence, here are some of the key prospects they are now pursuing and making a big effort to get.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

UCLA would like to take two defensive ends in 2012 but the defensive end class in general in the West is average, and UCLA struck out on a few top prospects then lost longtime commit Morgan Breslin to USC.  

Eli Ankou, 6-3, 245, Orleans (Ont.) St. Peter.  COMMITTED.  The Canadian prospect got his first offer from UCLA and is a good student too, with offers also coming from Vanderbilt and Virginia.  He was told right after Neuheisel was fired that his scholarship was still being honored but we've heard there could be a mutual parting of ways.  Ankou hasn't talked much since, so we're not sure where he and UCLA are at, but from a talent standpoint, he could be one of the players UCLA encourages to check out his other options. Offered. 

Nate Iese, 6-4, 245, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. Since UCLA first offered him in the fall, they've been heavily in the mix and you can easily say that the Bruins are the prohibitive favorite to sign him.  He's down to UCLA and Nebraska and he'll likely commit to the Bruins on his official visit this next month.  He and future Bruin Marcus Rios are good friends and both come from the Sacramento area and Rios has been recruiting him heavily.  Offered.

Luke Kaumatule, 6-7, 245, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou.  A commit to Stanford, Kaumatule still is waiting for admittance into The Farm.  He'll visit UCLA officially next month with his teammates Steven Lakakala and Ka'imi Fairbairn.  UCLA has been working on him since he committed in August and hasn't given up. Offered.

Other Defensive Ends to watch:
Antonio Perez, 6-2, 230, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon
 

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.  Still, UCLA is trying to reinvigorate their efforts with McCarthy and Shittu and hopes to get visits out of each.

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 and would have to be considered the heavy favorite.  Still, UCLA is making every effort they can.  Demetrice Martin was recruiting McCarthy heavily to Washington and he and McCarthy's father are longtime friends.  McCarthy was the very first recipient of a phone call from Jim Mora after he was hired and he was invited to the recruiting gathering.  UCLA will not give up easily with McCarthy and will try with him until Signing Day.  Offered

Aziz Shittu, 6-4, 270, Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony.  Shittu told us earlier this week he'll visit UCLA officially next month and he's focused his final four on the California quartet from the Pac-12.  While we think Cal is the leader right now, Shittu's favorites list has been all over the board and he has a new leader depending on how the sun sets that particular evening.  So he'll .  Offered

Milo Jordan, 6-2, 295, Corona (Calif.) Centennial.  A longtime commit to Arizona State, Jordan decommitted from the Sun Devils in the fall and was at nearly every UCLA home game this season.  The Bruins have offered and Steve Broussard will likely keep recruiting Jordan and the Bruins were doing very well with him even before the coaching changes Offered

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.  He said that during the Arizona debacle, three Pac-12 schools called him and he was a guy that UCLA fans had to sweat but after the recruiting gathering, he seems to be 100% full-bore Bruin, especially with UCLA hiring a defensive minded coach in Mora. Offered

Kenny Orjioke, 6-4, 215, Marrieta (Ga.) Lassiter.  A SoCal native, Orjioke played in the Trinity League at JSerra before moving to Georgia.  SMU was recruiting him heavily and then UCLA offered and a day later, he committed to his dream school.  He's barely 16 so he's still not even where he can be physically.  His 2013 teammate Eddie Printz, a quarterback committed to SMU, is going to visit UCLA next month unofficially and UCLA could end up with him too. Offered

Deaysean Rippy, 6-2, 200, McKees Rocks (Penn.) Sto-Rox.  The Pennsylvania said during the summer at Gridiron Kings that UCLA was in 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 got a commitment from Combs, but it doesn't sound like Rippy is leaning UCLA's way much at all anymore.  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 several other offers.  He's recorded 40 sacks as a sophomore and junior as a defensive end for Jordan, but knows he's a linebacker in college so he diligently played 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 San Jose State also remain heavily in the mix for him.  Offered

Jeremy Castro, 6-4, 245, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta.  Castro got his first offer from UCLA when was a sophomore, but has since committed to Washington and then Oregon.  While he says he's still solid to the Ducks, a big reason he committed to the Huskies in the first place was Demetrice Martin and Martin is making Castro a main target. Castro came to the recruiting gathering and UCLA is still going to try. Offered

Salamo Fiso, 6-1, 225, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.  A longtime Arizona State commit, UCLA has since offered Fiso, who was recruited by Broussard and has become one of their main targets now that Broussard is in Westwood.  Fiso is one of the best backers in the West and may be the best prospect on Poly.  Offered.

Matthew Rowe, 6-3, 215, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.  Another longtime Arizona State commit, Rowe also got a UCLA offer and like the other Jackrabbits, he likes the Bruins, but Nebraska, one of his first offers, is making a big push for him.

CORNERBACKS (2-3)

UCLA needed to add at least two cornerbacks, but instead has five of them right now.  And they could be adding more.  What helps is they're adding guys with versatility, so that could be a reason why they have so many in the mix.

Ishmael Adams, 5-10, 185, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian.  The first real win of the recruiting season for Mora, Adams was a longtime Cal lean (though we predicted during the summer, and even during the fall, we thought Adams would end up a Bruin anyway).  The day after Christmas, the #10-ranked corner nationally gave Mora a call and told him he wanted to be a Bruin.  He also said he'll immediately turn his efforts towards recruiting other UCLA targets while at the U.S. Army Bowl.  Adams is very similar to Tony Dye in that they have corner height, but can both bulk up and could end up as a safety in college. 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 when schools realized that and started recruited him heavily, things softened with Boise State.  He and the Broncos parted ways when he took an official visit to UCLA and then he visited Arizona State and Nebraska.  Oregon and Notre Dame then offered, but Rios became the first recruit to commit to Jim Mora and has been doing some recruiting of his own.  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 during the summer and ended up committing to UCLA on the night that Neuheisel was fired, at least publicly, as he'd been a silent commit since August.  Combs is tight with several of the top prospects in Southern California, working out with them while in SoCal this summer, especially Ishmael Adams.  He'll take his official visit next month.  Offered. 

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 in the summer 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.  Now, where UCLA stands with him, remains to be seen.  He liked Arizona State and SMU a lot, particularly because of Broussard and Klemm, but he's even said with their hirings, he may look at other schools. 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.  Because Edwards is pretty versatile, we expect UCLA to keep him in the fold, though he could be a greyshirt candidate if necessary. Offered. 

Kevon Seymour, 6-0, 175, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir.  UCLA was one of Seymour's early offers but the Army All-American has blown up nationally.  Cal and USC are heavily in the mix, but Martin has been all over Seymour, having been a Muir alum himself and Seymour came to the recruiting gathering so UCLA is doing well with him. Offered

Randall Goforth, 5-10, 175, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.  Yet another longtime commit to Arizona State, Goforth may be the most likely to pop for UCLA here in the next couple of weeks.   He's one of the best corners in California and had an outstanding season this year.  He was one of Broussard's targets too.  Offered.

Bryan Harper, 6-0, 180, Ontario (Calif.) Colony.  Another guy committed to a Pac-12 school that had a current UCLA coach, in this case Washington and Martin, Harper got a UCLA offer in the fall and the Bruins have been a longtime favorite.  When Martin made the move back to the Southland, Harper came to the recruiting gathering and decommitted from the Huskies that day.  It's more than likely Harper will commit to the Bruins sooner, rather than later, and he's also a candidate to play receiver in college.  Offered.

Brandon Beaver, 6-1, 195, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez.  Beaver was an early lean to UCLA and then became a longtime lean to Washington, with whispers he was a silent commit.  Then Martin came to UCLA and now the Bruins are back in the mix.  Like Shittu, he's publicly been all over the place.  Offered. 

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 this year and plugged in at safety.  UCLA currently has four safeties committed, but attrition could be felt at this position..

Jerico Richardson, 6-1, 185, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany.  COMMITTED.  Richardson got an offer from UCLA in August and then committed a month later.  But the Bruins were the only school recruiting him and he could end up in a numbers crunch.  Offered.

Taylor Lagace, 6-2, 195, Arcadia (Calif.).  COMMITTED.  A commit to Washington since June, Lagace was offered by UCLA after coming to the recruiting gathering by Demetrice Martin, who recruited him to the Huskies.  It took him about one day to make a decision and he jumped on the Bruin offer.  Offered.

Laiu Moeakiola, 6-1, 195, Euless (Texas) Trinity. COMMITTED.  A commit to the Bruins since the fall, Moeakiola committed to UCLA despite knowing the staff could be let go.  Like his teammate Hiva Lutui, he has family in Southern California and would seem to be solid.  Offered.

Trayvon Watson, 5-11.5, 185, Los Angeles (Calif.) West Adams Prep.  COMMITTED.  A sleeper who also had offers from Fresno State and Oregon State, Watson committed to the Bruins the night after the firing of Neuheisel.  So he committed while the staff was in limbo and so it will be interesting to see where he stands.  That said, he was one of the few commits to get a call from Mora the first day on the job and was invited to the recruiting gathering.  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 has taken all five trips and will take an unofficial visit to UCLA next month.  Mora and Angus McClure had an in-home with him earlier this month.  Offered.


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