UCLA is in an enviable place in its defensive back recruiting – with probably 2 or maybe 3 spots open while looking good with a number of elite prospects.
We're hearing that UCLA is definitely in the competition for Iman Marshall, the defensive back from Long Beach Poly and the #1 prospect in the west. UCLA fans are wary of prospects doing some trolling – wearing gear of a school they're not interested in, Tweeting misleading info, etc. – but the word is that Marshall, with his Tweets and comments, is seriously interest in UCLA. He has long been assumed to be a USC lean, but we've heard Jim Mora is putting in a great deal of time recruiting Marshall personally and the prospect feels close with the UCLA head coach.
Along those same lines, sources are telling us that Stanley Norman, the defensive back from Gardena (Calif.) Serra, also has established a close relationship with Mora, and that UCLA is the leader for him. He right now, though, is saying he wants to wait until Signing Day, so the dilemma for UCLA is, when you have limited scholarships to give, do you wait on Norman until February? We believe UCLA could accept commitments from other defensive backs that are high on their list and Norman could, conceivably, be left without a UCLA scholarship.
In fact, a defensive back prospect UCLA is doing very well with is Isaiah Langley from Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill. He's the #13-ranked cornerback in the nation and has some tremendous upside, with a great, long body and athleticism. We're hearing Mora has put in a great deal of time recruiting Langley also, and some NorCal sources say they wouldn't be surprised if he was one that didn't go all the way to Signing Day to announce.
While we're on defensive backs, perhaps the #1 guy on UCLA's board without an offer is Jihree Stewart, from Corona (Calif.) Centennial. That situation could change pretty quickly, however, with UCLA possibly close to offering. Stewart plans to come to UCLA's practice Saturday, and we wouldn't be surprised if the visit generated a scholarship offer. We've heard that Stewart has gotten close with UCLA Defensive Backs coach Demetrice Martin to the point a commitment might be not a protracted thing.
UCLA is definitely putting in the work on Marvell Tell, the nation's #3 safety who plays at Encino (Calif.) Crespi. UCLA had been the long-time leader until about a month ago when it surfaced that USC might have pulled ahead. Since then UCLA – Mora and Martin – have been blitzing Tell, according to sources, and he's feeling UCLA. We don't know if it's enough that UCLA is again atop his leader board, but we've heard the Bruins have put themselves back in a very good place for him.
Cordell Broadus, the 6-3, 190-pound receiver from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, is leaning to UCLA, according to sources. Like with many others, though, it will be a case of whether he's going to commit while there is still a scholarship available for him.
Ve'ehala Tuihalamaka, the offensive line prospect from Los Angeles Cathedral, visited practice Thursday and, as we've said before, UCLA is definitely scouting/recruiting him. Tuihalamaka is tied in with the Polynesian community and close to UCLA redshirt freshman OL Poasi Moala. UCLA has yet to offer Tuihalamaka, but the feeling from those close to the recruitment is that if the Bruins did offer they'd probably be the leader.
UCLA has picked it up some with OL prospect Fred Ulu-Perry, from Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis. We've heard from sources in Hawaii that UCLA is indicating they really like Ulu-Perry, who won the OL MVP at the SoCal Nike Camp last month. Ulu-Perry has offers from the lower-end of the Pac-12, and it's known he's a big USC fan and a Trojan offer would probably be a game-changer. Ulu-Perry would probably be a center in UCLA's system.
Mason Walter, the 6-6, 275 OL prospect from Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral, visited UCLA's campus earlier in the week and met with UCLA OL Coach Adrian Klemm. Walter has offers from the Pac-12 lower half, as well as some Mountain West schools. While Walter's recruitment is expanding this spring, we think he's a guy UCLA would probably wait on.
The 2016 quarterback from Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake, Malik Henry, was at UCLA's practice Thursday, decked out in Bruin gear. Henry has emerged as the most promising quarterback prospect in the west for 2016 and, of course, it's still early, and there's a great deal of recruiting for him to go through, but we're hearing UCLA is his leader at this point. It sounds like Notre Dame is about to go after him pretty hard and, of course, USC has offered.
We're hearing conflicting stories on whether Rasheem Green, the elite defensive line prospect from Gardena Serra, will visit UCLA Saturday. One source told us he was, another said he was planning on attending Stanford's junior day.
Besides Green and Stewart, other prospects that we've heard are planning to attend Saturday:
-- Zach Robertson, (2015 four-star OL, Bellflower St. John Bosco, Offered)
-- Arden Key, the 6-5, 215-pound, four-star defensive end prospect from Lithonia (Ga.) King
-- Clayton Johnston, (2015 3-star OL, Anaheim Servite)
-- Treyjohn Butler, (2016 CB, Etiwanda)
-- Darnay Holmes, (2017 ATH, Newbury Park, UCLA just offered)