Football Recruiting Reset: Defense

Here's a look at where UCLA stands in recruiting with Pac-12 play getting under way...

We've been saying it for years on BRO: Win and they will come.

With UCLA off to a 3-0 start as they get set for Pac-12 play next week, recruiting has been on the upswing since the summer, with the Bruins in on several elite guys nationally, strengthening where they stand with other regional prospects and putting themselves firmly in play for prospects they were out of it for.

As Jim Mora said on Thursday, it's probably fun to recruit when you're 3-0, and UCLA coaches will be all over the country this weekend to see guys, as well as back in Westwood for one of their top targets' official visits.

UCLA has brought in some big classes in Jim Mora's first two recruiting classes, for 2012 and 2013. The 2014 class looked like it'd have about 18 scholarships to give, but with transfer and attrition already, it's pretty easy to project it to be in the 22-25 range.

***As we've said on the message board, with UCLA looking like it's a program on the rise, there have been prospects from around the country that are starting to show interest in UCLA. Some we can't share here, since they are committed elsewhere and it could disrupt their recruiting, and UCLA's chances with them. If UCLA continues to have a successful season there will undoubtedly be more viable prospects that show interest in UCLA.***

DEFENSIVE ENDS

With the addition of Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA should be in the market for one DE, possibly two.  Three players that they were definitely in the mix for committed elsewhere and a fourth eliminated UCLA from consideration.

Solomon Thomas, 6'3, 245, Coppell (Tex.)
National Position Ranking: 5, UCLA Offer
--Thomas impressed UCLA last year at its Elite Camp in April. He's a very athletic player with a quick get off from the edge. We've heard that he really enjoyed his time at UCLA last year, and that the Bruins have a legitimate shot at him.  He's one of UCLA's top targets on defense and one of the national guys they've really honed in on.  Still, with several national offers, they'll have to keep working on him.  Thomas was stellar at The Opening and mentioned UCLA as a school he's still considering but he's nowhere near a decision.  He did tell Scout last months that the Bruins are still one of his favorites, but seven other schools are also on that list.  Angus McClure and Lou Spanos will be in Texas this weekend to watch him.

Davon Godchaux, 6'4, 271, Plaquemine (La.)
National Position Ranking: 17, UCLA Offer
--Godchaux was going to announce last month, but has since pushed his announcement date back to December.  He said that UCLA is still being considered along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, and UCLA would love to get him in for an official visit and Godchaux told Scout earlier this month that UCLA will definitely get a visit from him.  He injured his knee early this season and is out for the year.

Matt Dickerson, 6'5, 260, San Mateo (La.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 19, UCLA Offer
--A commit to Notre Dame, UCLA is still trying with Dickerson and will be out to see him this fall.  UCLA was on his very short list when he committed to the Bruins and the UCLA coaches are hoping to at least get him in for an official visit.

Harrison Phillips, 6-4, 240, Omaha (Neb.) Millard West
National Position Rank: 115, UCLA Offer
-- UCLA assistant Angus McClure has seen it pay off when he's continued to recruit prospects committed elsewhere, and he's still employing the theory. Phillips is committed to Stanford but UCLA is still trying with him.

Others to Watch
Uriah Leiataua, 6'4, 265, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
Kennedy Emesibe, 6'3.5, 235, Oak Hills (Calif.)
Malik McDowell, 6'6", 300, Detroit (Mich.) Loyola
Austin Maloata, 6'3", 248, Corona (Calif.) Centennial.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

UCLA needs to fill some depth at the position.  It's not a great defensive tackle class, but there are still some guys in the mix.

Ainuu Taua, 6'0, 270, Lompoc (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 9, UCLA Offer
--With the frame to still add more weight, Taua could be a potential nose guard at UCLA. He's very quick for his size, and has a good motor. UCLA offered him early, and has always been on his short list.  His weight bounced up and down some earlier in the spring, and there were questions about if he'd be a defensive lineman or even a fullback, but when we saw him in July at The Opening, he was 270 and said he wants to play this season between 270-280.  In fact, we saw him twice in the summer, once at the PTP Kumite, where he was a monster in the 1on1s, and then at The Opening, where he was the DL 1on1 MVP.  And you can see that he's still definitely worth UCLA recruiting.  Washington State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss are also on his list, but the Bruins are probably safe to consider the favorite.

Tashon Smallwood, 6'1, 285, Fresno (Calif.) Central East
National Position Ranking: 18, UCLA Offer
--A longtime commit to USC, Smallwood visited UCLA unofficially during the spring and then also returned to the Rose Bowl for the Spring Game.  He had said he was solid to USC, but then decommitted and really isn't considering the Trojans anymore.  UCLA is still recruiting Smallwood, who's also looking pretty closely at Arizona State and Cal, but the Bruins' aren't as aggressive with him as they were in the spring.

Trey Lealaimatafao, 6-1, 290, San Antonio (Tex.) Earl Warren.
National Position Ranking: 36
-- A commitment to Texas, with the Longhorns having a tough season, the word is that Lealaimatafao might consider other programs, and UCLA would be one of them.

Others to Watch
Jason Fao, 6-1, 250, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

After getting a good, deep crop in 2013, you'd probably think they wouldn't need that many LBs in 2014, but they'll lose Barr, Zumwalt, and Bowens in 2013, so UCLA will need to take probably three LBs (inside and outside combined) for 2014.

Rashaan Evans, 6-3, 215, Auburn (Ala.)
National Position Ranking: 3, UCLA Offer
--Evans will be tough to pull out of the South, especially with the hometown school, Auburn, and their rival, Alabama, both having offered.  Yet, Georgia is actually the leader for him.  Having said that, UCLA has been on his real short list for some time and he's visiting this weekend and UCLA is doing the rare thing of bringing in a visitor without a game being played this weekend so they can put the full court press on him.  He was one of the best players at The Opening, working as an outside linebacker and that's where UCLA wants him to play.  UCLA also has a commitment from his teammate Antreal Allen and Allen said he's recruiting Evans hard to come West with him.

Dwight Williams, 6'1, 212, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 9, UCLA Offer
--Williams has been one of the most recruited linebackers in the country in 2014, with a huge offer sheet already. He has excellent physical tools, with good agility and athleticism. We've heard he's very high on the Bruins, and UCLA is doing well with him and they're on his list of 16 schools (from his 30+ offers), that he's considering.  UCLA would also like to build a Serra pipeline, and with one commit already from Serra, they want to add more.  Still, Williams enjoys the recruiting process and doesn't appear to be in any rush to make a decision. 

D.J. Calhoun, 6'1, 205, El Cerrito (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 10, UCLA Offer
--Calhoun committed to USC at The Opening over UCLA but now he wants to take some visits.  He is very publicly being recruited by Adarius Pickett, his teammate at El Cerrito who's committed to the Bruins, but Calhoun said this week when he spoke with UCLA coaches, he was told there may not be room for linebackers.  Still, we think UCLA will ultimately pick up their recruitment in Calhoun.  Then it will just be a matter of if he's still feeling the Bruins in the end.

Ismael Murphy-Richardson, 6-4, 215, Goodyear (Ariz.) Desert Edge
National Position Ranking: 46, UCLA Offer
--Murphy-Richardson is one of the top defensive prospects in Arizona, at 6-4, 215, he's in the same mold as Anthony Barr at the same stage, and he's well thought of as an athlete.  UCLA is on his short list with the two in-state schools as well as USC, Michigan and Florida, but we've heard there are some academic concerns that could limit how much UCLA is able to really recruit him.  He was planning to visit unofficially this summer but the academics have been a hang-up for him and have cooled some teams on him.  UCLA though is still keeping an eye on him.

Koa Farmer, 6-1, 195, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
National Position Ranking: 32
--Farmer had a good performance at the UCLA Elite Camp, and while he's still committed to Cal and doesn't have an offer from UCLA, an offer could shake things up a bit.  It's likely UCLA will wait to see how a couple of other targets decide before making a move on Farmer though and he is likely a senior film guy too.  He is being recruited as a safety, but it's likely that he would plug in at the mini-backer role.

Olajuwon Tucker, 6-3, 229, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 83
--Few players in the Southland are upping their stock like Tucker, who was under-the-radar for most of the spring and then overshadowed by Dwight Williams and John Houston.  But after a great start to his senior year, he's now on UCLA's watch list and he was invited to their last game against New Mexico State.  There may not be room for Tucker at this point, but UCLA is going to stay on him and see how things shake out numbers wise.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Kenny Young, 6-2, 225, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian
National Position Ranking: 12, UCLA Offer
--Young came out for UCLA's mini-Junior Day in February and then returned for the Spring Game at the Rose Bowl, and left both trips raving about his time in Los Angeles.  UCLA was in a good position.  When he narrowed his list in early August to a top ten, UCLA was on it.  Jeff Ulbrich and Eric Yarber will be seeing him play tonight.

Shaun Hamilton, 6-1, 240, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver
National Position Ranking: 19
--Hamilton committed to Alabama in April but since then has decided he wants to take some visits and he's visiting UCLA in November when the Bruins host Colorado.  He told Scout this week that UCLA has been recruiting him since day one and Jeff Ulbrich has been hot on his trail.

Others to Watch
Nyles Morgan, 6-3, 220, Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee
Raekwon McMillan, 6-2, 230, Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County
Chandler Leniu, 6'1, 225, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco

SAFETIES

UCLA has made safeties, and defensive backs for that matter, more of a priority, with two committed and a few more targeted.

Jojo McIntosh, 6-1, 180, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
National Position Ranking: 33, COMMITTED
--A player who used the UCLA Elite Camp to his advantage, McIntosh showed well at the camp and a couple of days later, was offered by the Bruins.  UCLA and Boise State were his top two and he chose the Bruins in early August so he could get recruiting out of the way.  He also could be a crucial part of UCLA's quarterback recruiting.  If UCLA offers Brad Kaaya, a Miami commit, McIntosh is Kaaya's best friend and has told Scout he'll recruit him to UCLA.

Ron Robinson, 6-2, 195, Corona (Calif.) Santiago
National Position Ranking: 45, COMMITTED
--Robinson is another one who used both of the UCLA camps to make a case for an offer.  He was at the skills camp in mid-June and was invited back for the UCLA Elite Camp, and after he showed well there, earned himself an offer.  He had said he was going to hold off on a decision until he visited Northwestern, but at the end of July, a few days before McIntosh committed, Robinson became UCLA's first defensive verbal.

Juju Smith, 6-1, 185, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
National Position Ranking: 1, UCLA Offer
--The nation's top safety is also heavily coveted by several programs nationally, but UCLA was his first offer and he's said they're one of the schools recruiting him the hardest.  The Bruins would love to grab another guy from Long Beach Poly, but Juju will be a guy they have to work like crazy to get.  UCLA continues to make a push for Smith, and he could even be considered their top target on defense.  He's said he may want to play receiver and UCLA has wisely told him that would be an option for him.  Juju has been to both of UCLA's home games so far.  Still, USC will be one to watch for Smith, being his lifelong favorite.

Budda Baker, 5'10, 175, Bellevue (Wash.)
National Position Ranking: 4, UCLA Offer
--UCLA has been on Baker for a couple of years, going back to when Rick Neuheisel was the coach.  And when Jim Mora took over, UCLA reiterated the offer. Baker is close with freshman UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and, although Washington is coming after him hard, and Oregon is also making a big push, UCLA has a decent chance with Baker.  He's got a top five that also includes Arizona State, Texas A&M, Oregon and Washington.  Four of the five schools are recruiting him as an athlete, but UCLA is recruiting him specifically as a safety.  Jim Mora will be in Washington this weekend to see Baker play.

John Bonney, 6-2, 175, Houston (Texas) Lamar
National Position Ranking: 9, UCLA Offer
--Bonney got an offer from UCLA this spring, and while he's committed to Texas (doing so earlier this month), he's childhood best friends with John Plattenburg and the two have talked about playing together. UCLA is one of the schools to offer both.  Bonney was at UCLA for the B2G Elite Camp and was then at The Opening, and looked great at both, then following it up with another terrific performance at the Texas State 7on7.  UCLA assistant coach Demetrice Martin is seeing Bonney and Plattenburg play this weekend.

Glen Ihenacho, 5-11, 177, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 33, UCLA Offer
--Ihenacho has been somewhat overshadowed by Williams and Jackson at Serra, but he's a pretty highly touted prospect in his own right and has 15+ offers, including one he got from UCLA earlier this summer.  He was at UCLA's camp in June, though he didn't work out, but was spending a lot of time with the coaches.  Both of his brothers were late bloomers who starred at San Jose State and both are in the NFL, so he's got good bloodlines.  UCLA is doing pretty well with him but Washington might actually be in the lead.  Ihenacho told us this summer that UCLA is recruiting him harder than any school.  Ihenacho is being recruited as the swing DB, able to play both safety or corner in college.

Mattrell McGraw, 6-0, 175, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian
National Position Ranking: 34, UCLA Offer
--The third prospect from JCC that UCLA has offered, McGraw came out to the UCLA Spring Game after coming out for the mini-Junior Day in February.  He's got an impressive offer sheet and recently trimmed his list to nine schools, with UCLA on there.  UCLA would love to land the JCC trio.  He was on campus this summer for the B2G Elite Camp and talked with UCLA coaches (some over phone), and trimmed his list right after to a top three that stood as Florida State, Oregon and UCLA.  Those three have remained a constant in his recruitment and he is hoping to visit officially this fall or after the season.  UCLA coaches will be seeing him play tonight.

Others to Watch
Adam Soesman, 6-2, 175, Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan
David Williams, 6'0.5, 175, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey

CORNERBACKS

You can never have enough cornerbacks since, like defensive tackles and quarterbacks, it's so difficult to find good ones. Expect UCLA to take a few of them for 2014, with three actually already committed.

Adarius Pickett, 5'11, 176, El Cerrito (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 19, COMMITTED
--Pickett visited for UCLA's mini-Junior Day and then returned for the Spring Game at the Rose Bowl, and the Bruins had been on his very short list for some time.  When D.J. Calhoun committed to USC at The Opening, there was thought he could be leaning towards USC.  But he visited UCLA for the Nevada game and committed a couple of days later.  And Pickett has been very vocal about his commitment to the Bruins and he's also recruiting Calhoun as well as Joe Mixon.  You can make a case that he's their top commit at this point.

Denzel Fisher, 6-2, 170, Compton (Calif.) Centennial
National Position Ranking: 40, COMMITTED
--Fisher was an under-the-radar guy before he won DB MVP honors at the Los Angeles NFTC.   He'd gotten a handful of offers, but coveted one from the Bruins, and he came to the Elite Camp, where he did well in the 7on7, to get UCLA's short list, but was told to wait it out until the season started.  The day of his first game, with scrimmage film given to UCLA, Fisher got the offer from the Bruins.  Four days later, Fisher committed to the hometown school, just a couple of hours after Pickett did.

Antreal Allen, 5-10, 182, Auburn (Ala.)
National Position Ranking: 78, COMMITTED
--A relative unknown when UCLA got his commitment this summer, Allen had a great offseason and moved from unranked to a top 100 corner and a three-star.  More importantly, he's teammates with one of UCLA's chief targets, Rashaan Evans, and Allen said when he committed he was going to work hard to recruit Allen.  While Evans will be visiting this weekend, Allen is waiting until later in the season to trip out to Westwood.

Adoree Jackson, 5'10, 170, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 3, UCLA Offer
--Jackson named a top ten list early in the summer that featured two West Coast schools, UCLA and USC but expanded it to include Oklahoma and Oregon.  UCLA is doing well with him, and he's gotten plenty of attention from several national programs, including Florida and Michigan, but despite what some reports might be, you really cannot count out USC for him.  He visited Tennessee in July and Florida had him for Friday Night Lights during the summer, and the Gators could be considered the favorite to land Jackson.

Marlon Humphrey, 6'0, 174, Hoover (Ala.)
National Position Ranking: 4, UCLA Offer
--The son of former Alabama running back Bobby Humphrey, the younger one is a five-star prospect and one of the best cover corners in the country.  Humphrey has said he wants to visit either UCLA or Oregon when he makes a Pac-12 swing, but all the usual Southern suspects, including his father's alma mater, are on him.

Nick Watkins, 6'1, 180, Dallas (Texas) Bishop Dunne
National Position Ranking: 9, UCLA Offer
--Watkins has a top 12, but he said during the summer that he's certain of the five schools he'll visit and that includes UCLA, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Oregon.  Watkins doesn't have any plans to decide soon, likely waiting until the end of January, right around his birthday. Watkins is also hoping to visit Oregon officially the weekend they host UCLA.

John Plattenburg, 5-11, 185, Houston (Texas) Lamar
National Position Ranking: 23, UCLA Offer
--Another guy who used the evaluation period to his advantage, Plattenburg was lightly recruited but now has nearly 20 offers.  After spending his first year of high school in Texas, he played last season at Corona (Calif.) Centennial but he moved back to Texas this summer for a family job relocation.  He was arguably the top performer at the Oakland NFTC, earning MVP honors and an invite to The Opening, where he also had a great showing.  UCLA offered him a couple of days after the NFTC and Plattenburg took an unofficial visit to UCLA and glowed about it.  Cal has been a longtime favorite and UCLA is doing well with Plattenburg, but he also camped at Washington and the Huskies are making a big surge as is Oregon.  Baylor is also on the short list for Plattenburg, and the more he's in Texas, the better the Bears' chances for him become.  He and John Bonney are best friends and the two have talked about playing together, and UCLA is one of the few schools to have offered them both.  He visited unofficially earlier in the summer on his own before moving back to Texas and UCLA made a big impression again.  Still, he's said a couple of times that even if he commits early, he's planning to take all five trips and being out of Southern California wouldn't make that easy.  UCLA coach Demetrice Martin will be at this game this weekend to watch him.

Others to Watch
Malik Cyphers, 5-10, 175, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian


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