Football Recruiting Reset: Defense

AUG 27 -- We look at UCLA's defensive recruiting board with the season set to begin...

As we've said in previous Recruiting Resets, initially the thinking was that UCLA football recruiting for 2015 would a bit different than it's been in Jim Mora's first three recruiting classes, since there were seemingly so few scholarships available. Now, however, it looks much more likely that UCLA will take a full class of 22 to 25 players. Perhaps, though, there will be somewhat of a change in the makeup of the class.

In the past under Mora, UCLA just needed talent. The theory was – get the most talented and plug them into a position later. Now, with UCLA having established some defined roles on both offense and defense, it can target recruits for more specific needs. For instance, it's clear that UCLA is pursuing pass rushers, specifically five-technique types of rush defensive ends (think Cassius Marsh). It's also specifically targeting rush outside linebackers (of course, think Anthony Barr). On offense, it's looking for speed and elusiveness at wide receiver and in the slot.

These lists aren't comprehensive, but are comprised of the prospects UCLA has offered that they have a legitimate chance to get, prospects UCLA is fairly close to offering, and those we feel have a good chance to garner a UCLA offer.

In analyzing UCLA's defensive recruiting needs for 2015, the recruiting efforts have gotten more specific at defensive line and linebacker but, interestingly, more general in the secondary. UCLA is targeting specific types of player in the front seven, but looking for the two or three best elite defensive backs who want to jump on board regardless of their specific positioning. Both of these developments come from UCLA having a good amount of talent on all the defensive units and how UCLA's defends against a spread. On the front seven, UCLA is looking to enhance various packages, mostly its pass-rush package. In the secondary, since it uses nickels and dimes and various other looks, UCLA wants versatile prospects who can do it all – be strong in coverage when they line up as a cornerback but also roam the field and move forward against the run as more of a safety type.

This is how it is when UCLA wins – it can be far more selective and pursue such a higher-caliber of prospect.


Needs at Position: 1-2

As we said, UCLA's recruiting needs have changed for 2015, and gotten more specific than in past years, which they can afford to do since they have a good deal of talent in the program. That impact might be the most felt in defensive line recruiting, where Defensive Line Coach Angus McClure has a strong depth chart and can almost pick and choose the types of DLs he needs to plug into his crew. Defensive tackle, or the nose guard spot in the 3-4, is always hard to find, so almost every year any program is in the market for one. There's also a decent chance that UCLA's current DTs are talented enough to jump early to the NFL, so getting one in 2015 is a priority. UCLA is being selective so far and has only a limited number of offers for DTs out.

Bryce English
Bryce English, 5-11, 315, DeSoto (Texas)
Ranking: #37 DT COMMITTED

UCLA made a late run at English and it turned into a commitment for the Bruins. A commit to Texas when Mack Brown was still head coach, English opened things up, saying he didn't feel like Texas was the best fit for him not long after Charlie Strong was hired. UCLA hadn't been recruiting English very long but Adrian Klemm stopped by the school in the spring, with DeSoto being a loaded program. English then started to become really interested in the Bruins and then Angus McClure joined the mix and he and Klemm helped spur the interest. During the spring, he visited Arkansas and Texas Tech and then in July, he visited Arizona State and UCLA, leaning towards the Bruins even before his visit. He then committed on local television to UCLA, their first of two commits from the Lone Star State. English isn't very tell, under 6-feet, and has some weight he could shed, but he's really effective at the position, racking up 30+ tackles for loss last year. English is a pure nose, a zero or one-tech.

Tim Settle, 6-3, 310, Manassas (Virg.) Jackson
Ranking: #66 Overall, #8 DT OFFERED

Settle's stock has dropped a little after he put on some bad weight in the spring and then was just ok at The Opening, but he's still worthy of a Top 100 billing. He had a top 15 in the summer, and the lone West Coast school was UCLA. He's said he's trimmed it up a bit, internally, but said four schools were still standing out to him, and UCLA was one of those, along with Penn State, Tennessee and Florida State. Settle said that UCLA coming to see him during the spring evaluation period was a big deal and a big part of why he's still considering them. He said he knows he'll officially visit UCLA, though he hasn't set the date. UCLA will keep trying with him, though, and would love to get him out for that visit.

Thomas Toki, 5-11, 290, Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis
Ranking: #241 Overall, #21 DT OFFERED

Toki is only about 5-11, and that's his knock right now, but he looked good at SoCal Nike Camp in spring. He's verbally committed to Washington State, but has visited UCLA, Cal and other schools, so the WSU verbal was a little shaky. The thought was that UCLA could probably flip Toki, but it appears, as least recently, that UCLA hasn't been recruiting Toki that aggressively. Toki has also said that he's solid to Washington State, and we've heard more and more that is the case, with UCLA not really spending much time on him.

Neville Gallimore, 6-3, 300, St. Catharines (Ontario, Can.) St. Catharine's
Ranking: #91 Overall, #10 DT OFFERED

Few players saw their stock rise like Gallimore did in the spring. After an MVP performance at the Ohio State NFTC, Gallimore was invited to The Opening, the first time a Canadian native had been invited, and that ramped up his recuriting attention, with schools like Notre Dame, Florida, Ohio State and Florida State getting involved. UCLA Defensive Line Coach Angus McClure traveled all the way to Ontario during the Spring Eval Period to see Gallimore. UCLA is recruiting him because they have a connection -- current UCLA defensive tackle Eli Ankou is from the same hometown in Ottawa and knows Gallimore. At The Opening, Gallimore talked about his relationship with Ankou and that will likely get UCLA an official visit, but several Big Ten and ACC schools closer to him in Ontario are prioritizing him as well, including Ohio State, Michigan, Rutgers, Maryland and Syracuse. Still, a visit would go a long way with Gallimore.

Vaimoe Sekona, 6-3, 280, Encino (Calif.) Crespi
Ranking: #33 DT OFFERED

Sekona has pretty much gone underground during the entire recruiting process. He was offered by UCLA in late spring, and USC has also offered him, so he has some good local options, and interest in both. He's an interesting prospect, looking good at the Los Angeles NFTC, but also looking like he's maxed out and with some weight he could serve to lose. Both the local schools will probably watch him a little closer this fall to determine just how aggressive they want to recruit him, since he is a pretty effective player.

Kyon Clark, 6-1, 360, Rialto (Calif.) Carter
Ranking: #88 DT

Clark is the younger brother of current UCLA defensive lineman Kenneth Clark, and attended the UCLA Lineman Camp. He's clearly got some weight loss ahead of him, but for a guy his size he can really move nimbly, to go along with natural strength. A UCLA offer is unexpected at this time, but with some further body-sculpting we could easily see UCLA projecting him to play at the Pac-12 level, and opting for Clark as a gray shirt, or possibly even a mere redshirt. He came to a couple of UCLA practices in San Bernardino, and still looks like he needs to drop a lot of weight, but with UCLA targeting his teammate, Lokeni Toailoa, they'll continue to keep an eye on Clark to see how he develops this fall and then determine late if he'll get an offer of any variety.

DeShawn Fortune, 6-0, 250, Etiwanda (Calif.)
Ranking: #90 DT

Fortune came to UCLA's Lineman Camp, after the UCLA staff and McClure were anticipating getting a good look at him. He didn't necessarily disappoint, being the best DL at the UCLA camp, but he didn't do enough to get a scholarship offer either. He's about 6-0 and 250, but his body type projects him as a nose tackle. At the camp, he showed good quickness and motor. He's definitely someone UCLA will watch this fall but the commitment of English could make it difficult for Fortune to get that offer.

Others to Watch:

Dillon Faamatau, 6-3, 280, Norwalk (Calif.)

Deonte Reynolds, 6-5, 325, San Pablo (Calif.) Contra Costa JC


Needs at Position: 2

UCLA is looking for Datone Jones/Cassius Marsh/Owamagbe Odighizuwa – a guy about 6-4 to 6-6, with a frame able to hold 260 to 280 pounds, and who can rush the quarterback. We think UCLA will take two of these types, but we wouldn't be surprised if they end up with three.

Rick Wade
Rick Wade, 6-5, 231, Santa Margarita(Calif.)
Ranking: #43 DE COMMITTED

A relative unknown coming into the spring, with just a couple of smaller offers, Wade started to see his stock soar after the NFTC and the evaluation period, and by summer, offers had come in from Boston College, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. UCLA started to pick it up with him and had him come to the Bruin Elite Camp, where he showed well and not long after, the Bruins offered. Wade said that UCLA was his leader and seemed to be right on the cusp of getting a commitment from him. But Wade's father attended USC and Wade grew up a Trojan fan, so an offer from USC, which came not long after their camp, muddled things a bit. But Wade still favored UCLA and took an unofficial visit to the school in late July and committed at the end of the month. Wade's a prospect who stock could rise even more, potentially into Scout 300 territory, with a big senior year.

Rasheem Green, 6-5, 275, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #17 Overall, #4 DE OFFERED

Rasheem is everything that UCLA wants in a defensive line prospect. And he's still relatively raw, with upside off the charts. The Bruins were his first offer, in the spring of 2013, right after he wowed at the Los Angeles NFTC but before he'd really blown up. Since then, everyone is after Green, including pretty much the entire Pac-12. UCLA has had him on campus a few times, and seemed to be doing really well with him in the spring and early summer, but we've heard they've fallen back in the pack, with USC and Stanford the leaders and Oregon possibly even ahead of the Bruins. UCLA isn't going to stop recruiting him, and they'll continue to prioritize him, but they've got some work to do to get back at the top of the list, and it's always a challenge for the Bruins to recruit Serra, especially against USC.

Canton Kaumatule, 6-6, 260, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Ranking: #63 Overall, #8 DE OFFERED

No player was more difficult to get a read on for the past few months than Kaumatule. He didn't talk to the media, didn't do any camps because he was still coming back from an injury and just didn't take to the recruiting process, at least publicly. He's a very good prospect as a defensive end, but many people feel he's got an even higher ceiling as an offensive tackle with his size, length and athleticism. Scout finally spoke with Kaumatule earlier this month and said that UCLA is on his short list, along with Oregon, USC and Vanderbilt. Stanford, where his brother Luke plays, is a longshot for him, he doesn't quite have Stanford academics, but the family values a quality education, which helps with UCLA. The Bruins also have recruited Punahou fairly well the last few years and he played with two current Bruins in high school, Isaac Savaiianaea and Kai'mi Fairbain. UCLA is recruiting his teammate, Semisi Uluave, and would love to land both of them.

Tyrone Wheatley, 6-6, 240, Buffalo (New York) Canisius
Ranking: #135 Overall, #16 DE OFFERED

In June, Wheatley narrowed his list to a top five of UCLA, Alabama, USC, Michigan and Miami, and he intends to take official visits to those five. UCLA has been recruiting Wheatley hard for a long time, and he showed interest when he unofficially visited during spring practice. He might want to play tight end in college, but UCLA is recruiting him as a DE. It's going to come down to his official visits, and it's probably a recruitment that won't get decided until winter. USC could be the dark horse here, with his father, former Michigan and NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley, having played with tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo with the Raiders, and USC wanting him as a tight end.

Takkarist McKinley, 6-4, 230, San Pablo (Calif.) Contra Costa JC OFFERED

McKinley is a highly-athletic prospect, with great mobility and length. UCLA offered him out of high school, but his academics were sub-par, so he signed with Cal, but ultimately didn't enroll there, instead, enrolling at Contra Costa, where he had a very good freshman season. Now, the same UCLA coach who recruited him out of high school, Angus McClure, is back on him, and UCLA is reportedly doing well with him. He has already arranged an official visit to UCLA in October, and also has official visits set up with Arizona State, Missouri and Oklahoma. Nebraska and USC are also trying to get his fifth official visit. His former high school teammate is UCLA receiver Kenny Walker, who is recruiting him pretty hard. The word is that UCLA is probably McKinley's leader at this time.

Benning Potoae, 6-4, 265, Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes
Ranking: #296 Overall, #21 DE OFFERED

UCLA offered Potoae early, and has continued to stay on his short list. Potoae told us that his top three was Oregon, UCLA and Washington, but we've heard that UCLA may, in fact, be the leader, with some people close to him encouraging him to start his own path and play outside the state. His brother, Sione, played at Washington, so the Huskies have long been a factor, but UCLA has been on him for some time and Mike Tuiasosopo has continued to pursue him. Potoae is a motor guy, and combines perfect size and agility for defensive end in UCLA's 3-4. Despite some higher-ranked players at the position, Potoae is a very realistic get and one we think the Bruin coaches will prioritize even more this fall.

CeCe Jefferson, 6-3, 258, Glen St. Mary (Fla.) Baker County.
Ranking: #5 Overall, #2 DE OFFERED

Jefferson had long talked about taking an official visit to UCLA, and it could still happen, but it's highly unlikely that he's leaving the South for college, with Florida the heavy leader, though Alabama is also pushing for him. If he does visit UCLA, it will be notable, but it's unlikely any school outside the South has a chance.

Byron Cowart, 6-3, 255, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood.
Ranking: #10 Overall, #3 DE OFFERED

One of the elite defensive end prospects in the nation, Cowart is only on this list because he has said he's a package deal with CeCe Jefferson and that he and Jefferson plan to visit UCLA officially. Oregon and Florida are probably pretty certain to get visits, too, but recently, the buzz is that Florida is the leader, and it could happen sooner rather than later that he commits to the Gators.

Porter Gustin, 6-5, 235, Salem (Utah) Salem Hills
Ranking: #48 Overall, #6 DE OFFERED

UCLA offered Gustin in the spring as his stock went through the roof, going from relative unknown to national recruit. He's a jumbo athlete who plays some linebacker, with good agility, and with a body that projects him with his hand down. He made the SPARQ Finals, impressive for his size, but looks like he'll get bigger, thus some schools liking him as a defensive end. USC is still though to be in the lead, with Florida State, Notre Dame and Ohio State also on the short list. UCLA and Arizona State are schools trying to get an official visit from him, but both are probably behind the pack a bit to get him.

Russell Ude, 6-3, 245, Atlanta (Ga.) Westminster
Ranking: #79 DE

Ude has had a curious recruitment. He emerged this spring, and garnered a good number of scholarship offers. But then he would look good in one event and then so-so in the other. In June he had just an okay performance at the UCLA camp but then won the USC DL MVP at their camp. Ude's dream school was previously UCLA but, at this point, UCLA's offer isn't a commitable one, and we could see UCLA and Ude fading. He does still have the Bruins on his list of finalists, eight schools that includes California, Miami, Penn State, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Boston College but we're not sure how much, if at all, UCLA is really recruiting him.

Joseph Wicker, 6-4, 255, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #1230 Overall, #24 DE

Wicker was impressive at the SoCal Nike Camp, looking good physically, with long arms, and having a nice burst, and then was probably the best DL at the B2G Elite Camp. UCLA has been recruiting him, but not enough to offer just yet. We could see UCLA holding out for a while for the guys above Wicker on this list, but we could easily envision UCLA coming around to offering, potentially by fall. In fact, Wicker told Scout this week that UCLA told him they want to recruit him more and want to see more interest from him, so again, he'll be a player the Bruins will watch closely this fall, with several other key targets at Poly. He will visit Arizona State and Miami, officially.


Needs at Position: 1-2

With the departure of Anthony Barr, something missing in UCLA's projected depth chart is really that big-time pass-rushing linebacker. Perhaps some current players will step up into that role in the next couple of years, but UCLA wants to continue to stock up and even upgrade its pass-rushing, and it has the Anthony Barr position/role to sell (in fact, other programs are selling the Anthony Barr-type role to recruits). It's a case that if UCLA was able to get more than one elite prospect of this type it would definitely take them.

Keisean Lucier-South, 6-5, 220, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran
Ranking: #29 Overall, #5 OLB OFFERED

UCLA has long been at the top of Lucier-South's list, with Michigan probably the toughest competition. He has gone from emphatically saying UCLA was his leader, to saying they're one of his leaders, but we're still hearing the Bruins are doing extremely well with him. He looked great at the Los Angeles NFTC working as a defensive end but came down to earth a bit at The Opening. With his quickness off the ball, if he can get that first step, he's past the offensive lineman, but given his lack of weight, if a blocker engaged him, he had a tougher time getting off the block. He ended up working more as an outside linebacker during the summer on the 7v7 circuit and got more comfortable as the summer went on, but he's still a very good pass-rusher and that's what he'd be used as.

Malik Jefferson
Malik Jefferson, 6-3, 220, Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet
Ranking: #2 Overall, #1 OLB OFFERED

While Jefferson could be a longshot to leave Texas, UCLA continues to be a factor in his recruitment and he's indicated that he'll visit UCLA on Thanksgiving weekend when the Bruins host Stanford. He also told Scout he wants to be recruited as an outside linebacker and specifically mentioned that UCLA is recruiting him for that position, and not middle linebacker like several schools are. Jefferson will also visit Ohio State and Stanford officially, Texas has made him their primary target and Charlie Strong has indicated that to him, so the Horns, in the end, could be tough to beat.

Jeff Holland, 6-3, 230, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #83 Overall, #8 OLB OFFERED

Holland is a pass rusher with a great motor who loves to hit people. He named his top six earlier this month and it included the Bruins along with Florida, Auburn, USC, South Carolina and Florida State. His friend and high school teammate, Victor Alexander, is committed to UCLA, so he'll help in Holland's recruitment, and Holland has said a couple of times he would like to leave Florida for college. He plans to visit UCLA with Alexander, and that will be a key trip in his recruitment. In fact, Holland has said that is one of the four official visits he knows he'll take (along with Auburn, Florida and USC).

Cassius Peat, 6-4, 235, Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol
Ranking: #134 Overall, #13 OLB OFFERED

Peat is similar to Barr in size and playing style, being more of a stand-up defensive end most of the time. He's one of the best pass rushers in the west, and has many programs pursuing him. Peat named his top six in July, which was Arizona State, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA. He's set to visit Oregon officially when they host Michigan State and he said he will visit UCLA officially during the season. He visited UCLA unofficially in the spring, not long after they offered and he visited Oklahoma and Texas A&M unofficially last month. So each school he visits will be getting a second, but more serious look, on the official trip. Still, we think he's going to be tough to pry from Arizona State, literally being in their backyard.

Bo Wallace, 6-4, 210, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian
Ranking: #500 OLB OFFERED

Wallace is a bit of a sleeper, which is curious since he comes from such a high-profile high school that signs a ton of players each year. But programs have gotten on him this spring and summer, like Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee – and UCLA. He's high school teammates and friends with UCLA freshman linebacker, but of late, has talked about Nebraska and Oklahoma the most of schools he's interested in.


Needs at Position: 2-3

In a 3-4 defense you need a good amount of linebackers, so UCLA will probably always be looking for at least 2 linebackers every year, other than the Anthony Barr-type pass-rushing linebacker. These are guys that could plug in 1) on the outside, in the Myles Jack role – the athletic guy who not only pass rushes but is capable of dropping into coverage, and 2) at the two inside spots.

Josh Woods, 6-2, 210, Upland (Calif.)
Ranking: #38 OLB COMMITTED

Woods missed all of his junior year after transferring to Upland from Victorville, so he did every camp, combine and 7v7 imaginable and showed what kind of prospect he is. One of those camps was the Bruin Elite Camp, where he looked very good and put himself high on the Bruins recruiting board. He said then that UCLA told him they wanted to see the first couple of games his senior year before they offered, but then in late July, they decided they didn't need to wait and offered Woods. After spending an hour thinking about it, Woods committed to UCLA. He grew up a USC fan but specifically said watching Jim Mora and UCLA the past two years, he started to like the Bruins more. Woods is a player that we think has an excellent chance of cracking the Scout 300 by Signing Day and is a very good pickup for the Bruins.

Victor Alexander, 5-10, 225, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #24 MLB COMMITTED

Alexander might be under-sized, but that's probably good, because it's kept many programs from offering, and gave UCLA a chance to swoop in and get a commitment from him. Despite being 5-10, Alexander is a force, with a great instinct and hitting ability, and plays exactly like you'd want your inside linebacker to play. Alexander told Scout this month that UCLA's early belief in him is what gave them his commitment, saying they gave him his shot and he said he's 100% to the Bruins, citing his relationship with Jeff Ulbrich as a big reason. The Bruins are also targeting several of his teammates and Alexander is in their ear to give the Bruins a long look.

Osa Masina, 6-4, 210, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton
Ranking: #22 Overall, #2 OLB OFFERED

Masina is the top prospect to come from Utah since Haloti Ngata in the 2002 class and every one in the country wants him. He was fantastic at The Opening and showed why he's so highly thought of. While in Beaverton, Masina named his final five, which includes UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Michigan and the five-star plans to visit all five. We've heard UCLA is doing very well with him, but it still won't be easy. He's getting the full-court press from all the Bruin coaches and commit Andre James said he's been working on Masina constantly for UCLA.

Roquan Smith
Roquan Smith, 6-1, 207, Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County
Ranking: #67 Overall, #2 MLB OFFERED

With Smith, picture a more athletic Eric Kendricks. He's planning to officially cut his list, but said that Florida, Georgia and UCLA are the three that have already made the cut and the Bruins got a visit from him during the summer and are in line to get an official visit too. The other four schools to get visits come from the SEC, so UCLA is hoping that the allure of playing on the West Coast can swing him away from the Southeast.

John Houston, 6-3, 200, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #27 Overall, #4 OLB OFFERED

Houston is a combo of very good size and exceptional athleticism, so his physical and athletic upside are considerable. He'll have to continue to add good weight and learn to play with more of a mean streak, but he's a promising prospect. He missed most of the summer with a back injury so it will be interesting to see how he looks this fall. USC is the heavy leader, even with UCLA being his first offer, and all the indications of him going to the Trojans could likely cool any further pursuit of Houston, especially with how well they're doing with other linebackers.

Quarte Sapp, 6-1.5, 200, Milton (Ga.) Alpharetta
Ranking: #43 OLB OFFERED

UCLA offered Sapp pretty late this summer, with DC and LB Coach Jeff Ulbrich having seen Sapp in spring and liking him, according to Sapp. He's an athletic prospect, with good flexibility. It's thought that he probably won't leave the South, but UCLA could very well get an official visit out of him.

Kyahva Tezino, 6-0.5, 200, Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian
Ranking: #247 Overall, #21 OLB OFFERED

Tezino is interesting. He's undersized for a linebacker, and doesn't have a great body, but he's a guy who makes plays. UCLA offered early on, but we don't think they've been recruiting him aggressively for several months, and he's not mentioning the Bruins prominently as of late.

Khaylan Thomas, 6-1, 217, Etiwanda (Calif.)
Ranking: #226 Overall, #9 MLB OFFERED

UCLA was one of the first schools to offer Thomas and he was at the Bruins' Spring Game. But UCLA hasn't really been recruiting Thomas all that hard and when he named his top five this week, UCLA wasn't in it.


Needs at Position: 2-3

Other programs have used UCLA's young and talented depth chart against them in recruiting 2015 defensive backs. UCLA does look pretty good in terms of the future of its secondary, and it doesn't have a great many spots for 2015 DBs. There are two clear spots open and, as we said, UCLA's Defensive Backs Coach Demetrice Martin is looking for the best guys available, regardless of their position – and looking for versatile guys who can fulfill different roles. If UCLA had a chance to get more than three it's safe to assume that it wouldn't turn down an elite prospect.

William Lockett, 6-0, 182, Manvel (Tex.)
Ranking: #70 CB COMMITTED

Lockett emerged in the offseason and garnered offers from UCLA, Michigan State, Missouri, Maryland and more. He has good size, and good speed, to go along with good cover skills. He camped at UCLA, and the word was that, as a result of his unofficial visit, UCLA had emerged as the leader. While he didn't commit right after the time in Westwood, he ultimately did in August, giving the Bruins their second Texas commitment in this class to go with English.

Dechaun Holiday, 6-2, 190, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills
Ranking: #84 Overall, #10 CB OFFERED

Holiday has been one of UCLA's primary targets for most of the recruiting process and he came up from San Diego to San Bernardino to watch the Bruins practice. He told us last week that the only school he for certain will visit officially is UCLA and also said that UCLA is recruiting him the hardest of his 20+ offers. He's still considering schools like Oregon, Washington, Florida State and USC, but the Bruins are doing very well with him. He's a versatile prospect who said he wants to play corner in college and that's where his heart is, but he could eventually grow into safety, so his position versatility is key.

Iman Marshall, 6-1, 190, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #11 Overall, #2 CB OFFERED

Marshall's recruitment will be one of the most fascinating ones to watch this fall. Most feel he's headed to USC, the childhood favorite, and there is good reason to think that is the case, but Jim Mora has also been personally recruiting him and he does have a good relationship with Mora and Demetrice Martin, while spending a lot of time on the UCLA campus. While he may ultimately end up at USC, UCLA is not going to give up on recruiting him.

Marvell Tell, 6-2, 180, Encino (Calif.) Crespi

Marvell Tell
Ranking: #43 Overall, #4 S OFFERED

Tell, like Marshall, will also be a fascinating recruitment to track. He has offers from all over, but all indications are that this has been, is and will be, a UCLA-USC battle. Depending on what day it is, some think he's a USC lean and some think he's a UCLA lean. Bottom line, both the Bruins and Trojans want him, and want him badly, and he's the top safety on each school's board and is being recruited as such. He spent some time in the spring on the UCLA campus and it really helped with UCLA getting to get much-wanted one-on-one time with him. His former teammate, Tyler Foreman, a redshirt freshman with UCLA, is also working on him. This one probably doesn't end till closer to Signing Day.

Kendall Sheffield, 6-0, 180, Missouri City (Tex.) Marshall
Ranking: #7 Overall, #2 CB OFFERED

UCLA is using its Texas connections to get in on Sheffield, a top-ten national prospect. The biggest connection is that he goes to the high school of current UCLA linebacker Deon Hollins. Sheffield is an elite talent, with great speed and quickness. He literally is hearing from every program in the country, and it will be a tough recruitment for UCLA. UCLA was hoping Sheffield would visit this summer but it didn't happen. Demetrice Martin went to see him in Texas at the end of the spring Eval Period. Sheffield is playing everything close to the vest, naming a top 12 of Ohio State, Texas, Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma State, USC, Oregon, Texas A&M, UCLA but just last week, said he's not sure where he'll visit officially.

Kevin Toliver, 6-1, 193, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #13 Overall, #3 CB OFFERED

Toliver is one of the elite cornerback prospects in the country and he's verbally committed to LSU. He'll almost certainly go there, but he has said that, if there's a school that could sway him away from LSU, it's UCLA. He'll probably officially visit UCLA with his Trinity Christian teammates, Victor Alexander, Jeff Holland and Ben Edwards.

Ben Edwards, 6-0, 195, Jacksonville (Calif.) Trinity Christian Academy.
Ranking: #42 S

Edwards has been committed to both Ohio State and Auburn, but is now open again. The recent word is that UCLA has a legitimate shot with him. He, at least, wants to officially visit UCLA with his teammates.

Kylan Johnson, 6-2, 205, Dallas (Tex.) Skyline
Ranking: Unranked OFFERED

Johnson was pretty much unknown before UCLA and Wisconsin offered him. UCLA assistant Adrian Klemm, who has deep ties in Texas due to his days at SMU, was the first to offer Johnson, who is billed as a big, physical prospect. He's thought to be the size of a linebacker, actually, and might project as one in college. We're hearing that Arkansas, though, is the team to beat.

Quenton Meeks 6-1, 185, San Diego (Calif.) Del Norte
Ranking: #48 CB OFFERED

Meeks is the father of former Indianapolis Defensive Coordinator Ron Meeks, who was the DC when the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2006. He has very good size and good coverage ability, which makes him unique. UCLA's offer was his first, and since others have jumped on -- like Stanford. Vanderbilt recently offered and that one was significant for Meeks, because he's originally from the Southeast and has talked about going back down South to play his college ball. We're hearing that those three, UCLA, Stanford and Vanderbilt, are the main schools he's focusing on and he'll visit each before he makes his final decision.

Stanley Norman, 5-10, 170, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #137 Overall, #19 CB OFFERED

Norman has had an interesting spring. He's clearly talented, and versatile, the type of guy UCLA is actually really looking for. But he's had some incidents that have made a few schools back away, and UCLA is looking like it's one of them. He's mentioned Washington State and Oklahoma as the primary schools of interest. If he shows some maturity this fall, UCLA could get back on him, but with other targets in play, that's not certain to be the case.

Frank Buncom, 6-1, 180, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine
Ranking: #142 Overall, #8 S OFFERED

Buncom named a top five in mid-summer of Duke, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA and Vanderbilt but UCLA really hasn't been pursuing him much at all this spring or summer and he's thought to be a heavy Stanford lean anyhow.


These are the guys that UCLA is showing serious interest in, but it would really be a reach to put them into any positional category at this point.

Stephen Johnson, 5-11, 185, San Leandro (Calif.)
Ranking: #211 Overall, #28 CB COMMITTED

Ykili Ross
Johnson committed to UCLA at The Opening, putting the cap on a terrific offseason that saw his stock go through the roof. Johnson chose the Bruins over Oregon, where many thought he was going, but what helped with UCLA is their desire to play him at receiver. He's never really played receiver, playing quarterback for his team, but has played in the secondary, which is why many schools wanted him as a corner. But he's got excellent speed, running a 4.41 at the Oakland NFTC and is a natural athlete. With Adarius Pickett moving to running back, cornerback still isn't out of the question, but he'll come to UCLA as a receiver and the Bruins will find a way to get the ball in his hands.

Ykili Ross, 6-1, 195, Riverside (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #169 Overall, #23 CB OFFERED

You can't say UCLA isn't trying to leave an impression on Ross. When he was on campus in July for an unofficial visit, he was there the day that the campus flooded, and his father's car was stuck in the UCLA parking lot as a result. But Ross said the visit, flood aside, was an excellent one and it really helped UCLA. USC is also pursuing him as is Notre Dame and Texas A&M. He visited Notre Dame unofficially during the summer and plans to get back there for an official visit. Some feel there is a good chance he'll leave the state, but many believe it will come down to the two Los Angeles schools. UCLA is recruiting him specifically as a corner with the occasional chance to play some receiver.

JayJay Wilson, 6-3, 228, Valencia (Calif.)
Ranking: #40 OLB

Wilson is an intriguing prospect who looked good at UCLA's 7v7 tournament. He can play a number of positions and UCLA could ultimately decide to pursue him in the same role that Nate Iese plays. He does like the two local schools, though neither have offered, but both will probably evaluate him further this fall to see where he might fit in their plans.

Jaason Lewis, 6-3, 230, Virginia Beach (Virg.) Ocean Lakes
Ranking: #250 Overall, #31 RB OFFERED

Lewis committed to UCLA in February then opened things up. At times he's not mentioned UCLA then he said in early August his top five would include the Bruins, along with Arizona State, LSU, Miami and Ole Miss. It's uncertain if UCLA would take his commitment a second time and it's uncertain just how much Lewis is seriously considering the Bruins. It's been a bit of a strange recruitment of a guy who could play a number of positions.

DeAndre McNeal, 6-2, 210, Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet
Ranking: #26 OLB OFFERED

UCLA has been recruiting him for the last couple of months, and he's been responsive. He actually unofficially visited in June and, from sources close to the recruitment, was very impressed. He's been recruited by schools as a linebacker, receiver and a safety, which is where UCLA told him they project him. Earlier this week, McNeal named Miami, UCLA, Oklahoma State and Arizona State as definite destinations for official visits this fall with Texas and Texas Tech posturing for the final visit.

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