Recruiting Buzz Word

AUG. 20 -- There's plenty abuzz about out-of-state prospects like Jeff Holland and Sotonye Jamabo, and the announcement of offensive lineman Dru Samia Friday...

Dru Samia, the offensive line prospect from Danville (Calif.) San Ramon, is reportedly announcing his decision Friday. UCLA was by far the leader just a few weeks ago, but Samia visited Oklahoma two weeks ago and then things changed. He was scheduled to visit UCLA in San Bernardino but then didn’t, and the feeling around the recruitment is that it could go either way – UCLA or Oklahoma. We’ve been feeling Oklahoma, but just yesterday we heard that Samia could be influenced by the experience of another NorCal player who went to Oklahoma recently – Joe Mixon. If you haven’t been following the headlines in Oklahoma, Mixon is accused of misdemeanor assault and suspended from the team for the season. Apparently, too, when Mixon reported to Oklahoma in summer he was immediately miserable, and realized that Oklahoma wasn’t a good fit for him. All of this experience could possibly affect Samia. But we still heard that Samia and his family loved Oklahoma on their unofficial visit, so at this point it could go either way.

If UCLA doesn’t get Samia they’re still in pretty good shape with offensive line recruiting. Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm has three recruits committed, Tevita Halalilo, the nation’s #12-ranked guard from Moreno Valley; Andre James, the prospect from Utah that is ranked the #12 tackle in the nation; and Fred Ulu-Perry, the Hawaiian prospect ranked the nation’s #1 center. UCLA is also considered the leader for Josh Wariboko, the #11-ranked offensive guard who is from Oklahoma, in fact. There is also Semisi Uluave, the #16-ranked guard in the nation, who clearly has UCLA as his leader at this time. Klemm could take just four, but upward of five OLs with the 2015 class, so having three committed of the caliber of UCLA’s commits and being the leader for Wariboko with 1 or 2 spots open before the season even starts is a good place to be.

There is also Zach Robertson, the prospect from Bellflower St. John Bosco, who would commit to UCLA if they’d accept the commitment. UCLA also recently offered Matthew Burrell, the nation’s #9-ranked guard prospect, from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton. Burrell didn’t have a great showing at The Opening, but still is considered a good prospect.

And, again, we’re still six months from National Signing Day, so having one or two spots open might be the prudent thing to do because, if UCLA has the kind of season it very well could have, there are going to be more OL prospects popping up along the way.

Uluave, too, is a guy who did so well at the NorCal Nike Camp that he earned an invitation to The Opening, but couldn’t participate in the big July event. He is a 6-5 and 320 pounds and quick on his feet. And without even being committed to UCLA, Uluave is doing some of the best recruiting for the Bruins in the 2015 class.

So it wouldn’t hurt, also, that Uluave happens to be very good friends with Canton Kaumatule, the nation’s #8 defensive end, who goes to the same high school as Uluave, Honolulu Punahou. Read the the interview with Kaumatule that we published yesterday, with Kaumatule and Uluave saying they very well could end up at the same school, with UCLA, Oregon and Vanderbilt being schools both are considering. It’s thought that Kaumatule won’t follow is brother to Stanford, and even though he could be leaning to Oregon at this point, UCLA definitely has a shot with him, especially if Uluave becomes a Bruin.

On the other side of the ball, there have been some developments on defensive line recruiting. Perhaps UCLA’s top DL target has been defensive end Rasheem Green, the prospect from Gardena Serra, but we’re hearing that UCLA has faded recently. We’re hearing it’s a Stanford/USC battle, with Oregon probably now in third and the Bruins probably in fourth, at this point.

But UCLA is apparently the leader for Benning Potoae, the #21-ranked defensive end from Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes. It’s UCLA or Washington, and the Huskies could certainly end up with Potoae, but the feeling around the recruitment is that there’s a strong feeling from Potoae that he wants to leave home for college.

We’re also hearing that UCLA is still doing well with Takkarist McKinley, the JC prospect from San Pablo (Calif.) Contra Costa. He released a top ten in July, of schools from around the country, but we’ve heard the Bruins are on the short list, if not at the top of the list, and will get an official visit. It didn’t hurt when the coaching staff from Contra Costa came to San Bernardino to take in a practice, and spend a good deal of time with the UCLA staff, particularly Defensive Line Coach Angus McClure.

With Rick Wade, the defensive end prospect from Santa Margarita, and Bryce English, the defensive tackle prospect from Texas, already committed, UCLA is looking good with defensive line recruiting. If it could finish it off with just DE among Potoae, McKinley or Kaumatule that would be considered a coup, and two among that group would be considered excellent. There are also some other national DLs that are scheduled to officially visit UCLA, like top-10 defensive tackle Tim Settle, the #2-ranked defensive end in the nation, CeCe Jefferson, and #16-ranked defensive end Tyrone Wheatley. So, UCLA Is looking pretty solid at this point for DL recruiting, again, with an entire season still to be played.

With linebacker recruiting, UCLA is looking similarly in a good spot, with commitments from Victor Alexander from Florida, and local prospect Josh Woods, from Upland. They’re both three-star prospects at this time but we feel both are particularly great commitments, with both worthy of a higher ranking, which very well might come after the upcoming season.

Then, with probably two more spots to give at linebacker, UCLA is reportedly doing well and potentially leading for Osa Masina, the nation’s #2 outside linebacker prospect from Utah. We’ve also heard that UCLA is very much a player for Alexander’s teammate at Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, Jeff Holland, the #8-ranked outside linebacker and the #1 linebacker in the state of Florida. The word is that despite many thinking he’ll end up at Florida, Holland might want to get out of the South and that Alexander and UCLA Linebacker Coach and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich are doing a tremendous job recruiting him. He was scheduled to take an unofficial visit to UCLA right before fall camp, but there were no players on campus so he postponed it. It’s significant that a prospect would pay for a trip across the country; it usually means the prospect definitely has interest in the school, and it definitely does in this case.

We still hear that UCLA is the leader for Orange Lutheran’s Keisean Lucier-South, the nation’s #5-ranked outside linebacker, and is among the few leaders for Roquan Smith, the #2-ranked inside linebacker from Georgia. As we’ve said previously, there had been some indications made that Smith was coming to UCLA, but it’s a matter of UCLA having to withstand an onslaught of local recruiting from the SEC, much like last season’s situation with Rashaan Evans, all the way until Signing Day.

There is also DeAndre McNeal, the athlete from Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet. The 6-2, 210-pounder is generally projected to be a linebacker on the next level, even though some programs are recruiting at receiver or safety. McNeal recently said, "UCLA, Texas Tech, Alabama, Arizona State and also Texas show me the most love." McNeal and his five-star high school teammate, linebacker Malik Jefferson, have already set up official visits to UCLA for the Stanford game November 28th. Jefferson also has arranged for visits with Ohio State (11/1) and Stanford (11/15).

Perhaps the biggest recent news in defensive back recruiting is, of course, the commitment of William Lockett, the cornerback from Texas. But also we’re hearing that the teammate of Alexander and Holland at Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, Ben Edwards, is also now considering UCLA. He had been verbally committed to Ohio State, and then flipped to Auburn, but is now uncommitted and open. It’s probably a long shot, but it’s thought that Edwards will officially visit UCLA with Alexander and Holland. There is also another Trinity Christian teammate, Kevin Tolliver, the nation’s #2-ranked safety, who is committed to LSU, but recently said he’ll also officially visit UCLA and if there was a school that could sway him away from his LSU commitment it’d be UCLA.

UCLA is definitely doing something right at Trinity Christian.

As we reported, Dechaun Holiday, the four-star defensive back from San Marcos Mission Hills, visited UCLA’s practice in San Bernardino, and we’re hearing the Bruins are still the leader for him.

Iman Marshall, the five-star DB prospect from Long Beach Poly, also visited practice in San Bernardino, which is significant – for a kid to make that drive and spend the day in San Bernardino. He also recently visited USC’s practice. We continue to hear that Marshall likes UCLA more than many want to believe, but we’re still skeptical.

The other buzz we’ve heard on an out-of-state prospect is that UCLA is still doing very well with Sotonye Jamabo, the nation’s #2 running back, from Plano (Tex.) . Jamabo spent some time in L.A. and at UCLA when he participated in the B2G Camp in Thousand Oaks earlier in the summer, and he apparently has a lasting impression of that visit.

UCLA, as we’ve reported a few times, is looking like it’s almost out of it for Christian Kirk, the receiver from Arizona. He recently said he’ll officially visit Texas A&M and Auburn, intends to visit USC and really feels close with ASU. He added, “I could still visit Ohio State and/or UCLA. Or, if I feel like I know what I want to do, I could just decide after those three visits (to Texas A&M, Auburn or USC).” The prevailing sentiment is that he’s a pretty strong lean to Texas A&M.

In terms of receivers, UCLA has a good group of prospects it still very much has a good chance to get to go along with committed L.J. Reed. We’re hearing UCLA is still leading for Cordell Broadus, the prospect from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, and will have a real shot at Trent Irwin, the prospect from Newhall (Calif.) Hart, who UCLA just recently offered. In fact, we’ve heard that Irwin specifically showed down his recruitment, which was going toward a decision between ASU and Stanford, because of the UCLA offer. At this point, we think that it’s wide open for Ryan Newsome, the speedster from Texas, and it will come down to the official visits this fall.


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