Football Recruiting: Defense

The master list of UCLA's current defensive recruiting targets...


A position of need, UCLA went a long way in fulfilling some of that need in getting an early commitment from C.J. Niusulu. They'll probably take two more at the position.

C.J. Niusulu, 6-2, 281, Barstow (Calif.) High. COMMITTED. Fairly unknown previously, Niusulu blew up at the San Diego Nike Camp where he was considered the best defensive tackle at the camp. He's actually having a big year as a fullback for his his high school, too. Niusulu was a long-time UCLA fan and that his dream was to go to Westwood. So, when the UCLA coaches offered Niusulu a scholarship on May 14th, he quickly accepted. "It's a dream come true," Niusulu said. A good student who is already qualified.

Fred Matua, 6-2, 280, Los Angeles (Calif.) Banning (pictured at right). One of the best linemen on the west coast and listed on the short list of the best DLs in the country. Matua is getting recruited hard. He's looking at a boat-load of schools, like Miami and Nebraska, but many believe it could come down between UCLA and USC, that it would be very hard to leave his family.

Haloti Ngata, 6-4, 308, Salt Lake City (Utah) Highland. Ngata has emerged as one of the best in the west and in the country at his position. He took an official visit to Nebraska and the Cornhuskers are the big leader right now. He'll visit Washington, Texas A&M, Michigan and said he'll decide between UCLA and Miami for the last visit. He more than likely will take his Mormon mission right out of high school.  UCLA won't be able to recruit Ngata due to academic restrictions.

Keith Jackson, 6-5, 300, Inglewood (Calif.) High. A kid as big as a house, UCLA has offered him. He could end up at OL, and he's a quality kid with a very talented brother who is a JR DE, so there are so many wins in taking Jackson. UCLA is his long-time favorite and it would take a drastic change for him not to be a Bruin.

Jonathon Mapu, 6-3, 260, Kahuku (Haw.) High. Thought to be the best player in Hawaii, Mapu is getting national recruiting attention. UCLA hasn't done well in Hawaii in recent years and they just recently have started to pick up the recruiting effort on Mapu.  Committed to Washington.

Larry Dibbles, 6-2, 281, Lancaster (Tex.) High. One of the best in Texas and the country, Dibbles is a dominating physical presence. Texas, Oklahoma and Notre Dame could lead while UCLA tries.

Jake Kuresa, 6-4, 315, Hyrum (Utah) Mountain Crest. One of the best in the west and many believe in the country, UCLA has steadily been recruiting him. Kuresa has said USC was his favorite, but UCLA wants to try to elbow their way in. He's also considering Washington, Nebraska, and BYU (he's a Mormon).  Off the List.

Haines Holloway, 6-2, 290, Camden (New Jersey) Wilson. A great run stopper and decent rusher, Holloway is considered one of the best in the east. He has listed UCLA, but probably favors Tennessee or Wisconsin. Off the List.

Lamar Mills, 6-3, 265, Metarie (Louis.) Archbishop Rummel. A player with nice potential, Mills is said to have good quickness. Florida leads but UCLA is in his top five with Missouri, Texas A&M and Kansas State. Off the List.

Taurean Brown, 6-6, 275, Katy (Tex.) Cinco Ranch. A big, burly, raw prospect from Texas, Brown was one of the best at the A&M Nike Camp. He said he had UCLA as his favorite lately, over Florida, Texas and LSU. A very good student. likes UCLA, along with the Texas schools.


Even though UCLA has commitments from Kevin Harbour and Thomas Patton, UCLA needs more defensive ends. Harbour, for one, might end up a defensive tackle. And UCLA is hurting for a speed-rushing DE. Expect UCLA to take at least one more, and more than likely two more commitments from DE prospects before February.

Kevin Harbour, 6-4, 250, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. COMMITTED. It's undetermined what position Harbour might play in college, but right now his size and quickness make him more suited to play defensive end. If he puts on weight and bulk, he could end up a very quick defensive tackle. Either way, UCLA is very happy with Harbour, especially after he performed very well at the San Diego Nike Camp and was the consensus best defensive lineman at the camp.

Thomas Patton, 6-3, 250, Oakland (Calif.) Tech (pictured at right). COMMITTED. Patton turned in a good performances all spring and summer at the various camps, which prompted UCLA to offer him, and then he quickly committed. Committed to UCLA over Cal and Oregon.

Matt Traverso, 6-6, 220, Sacramento (Calif.) Christian Brothers. Traverso, a great all-around athlete, excelled at both DE and TE last year, and plays basketball, too. He had 63 tackles and 10 sacks on defense last season. He plays aggressively and has the quickness and instincts, and a great frame to grow into. Traverso has UCLA leading. UCLA likes Traverso quite a bit and have offered him a scholarship.  Committed to Stanford.

Bryan Pickryl, 6-5, 230, 4.5, Jenks (Okla.) High. A big national recruit, Pickryl's dad went to UCLA, so UCLA has a good shot with him. He's also considering Texas, Oklahoma and others. Committed to Texas.

Kai Parham, 6-3, 235, 4.6, Virginia Beach (Virg.) Princess Anne. One of the best defensive players in the country, Parham is sometimes projected as a linebacker while many think he'll be a defensive end. He's getting recruited by the entire universe and UCLA is taking a shot. Off the List.

Loren Howard, 6-5, 260, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro. A sleeper that many college coaches have discovered, Howard has the makings of being an elite recruit. He recently said he favors Stanford over UCLA, Notre Dame and Texas.

Donny Mateaki, 6-5, 235, Honolulu (Haw.) Iolani. A great physical specimen, Mateaki could almost get scholarship offers on his appearance alone. Still pretty raw, Mateaki is hearing for most of the west coast schools. UCLA hasn't recruited well in Hawaii recently but will be trying to make some in-roads.  Off the List.

Brandon Ala, 6-3, 230, Honolulu (Haw.) Kamehameha. One of the best hot putter prospects in the country, Ala is reportedly a very good football player, too. He unofficially visited UCLA when he was in California for a track event and loved it. UCLA track is recruiting him, and football is starting to get on the bandwagon. Off the List.

Tamba Hall, 6-4, 245, Teaneck (New Jersey) High. Considered one of the best defensive end prospecs in the east and numbered among those nationally, Hall is fast and strong. Hall has dozens of offers, including one from UCLA, but says his favorites are Penn State, Michigan, and Tennessee.  Off the List.

Tom Hoffart, 6-4, 235, Davis (Calif.) High. Considered one of the best defensive end prospects in California and an all-state underclass selection, Hoffart is the younger brother of current UCLA basketball walk-on, John Hoffart. He had a good showing at the Stanford Nike Camp. Off the List.

Tremaine Towns, 6-3, 220, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. A talented kid who has good size and quickness, UCLA will keep an eye on Towns this season.  Off the List.

Taurean Brown, 6-5, 270, Katy (Tex.) Cinco Ranch. A big, burly prospect from Texas, Brown was one of the best at the A&M Nike Camp. He likes UCLA, along with the Texas schools.

Tyler Craig, 6-5, 235, Tualatin (Ore.) High. One of the best linemen in Oregon, UCLA is trying, along with much of the Pac-10.  Off the List.


While UCLA has done well overall in recruiting the last couple of years, a position it hasn't fared well in is linebacker, only getting really two highly-touted LBs in the last two years. UCLA, though, has started out pretty strong so far this recruiting year, getting commitments from two solid linebacker prospects. UCLA will probably take three minimum, and probably four total linebackers. They would definitely like to see one scholarship go to a very elite recruit.

Xavier Burgess, 6-3, 215, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant. COMMITTED. A sleeper to recruiting fans, but not to college coaches, Burgess is a player that was starting to get some strong attention before he verbally committed to UCLA in June. Having grown a couple of inches in a year and put on 20 pounds, he was fairly unknown. He's very athletic and runs very well – and could put on more weight easily. He chose UCLA over Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Cal and Illinois.

Kirby Joseph, 6-2, 220, Lake Charles (Louisiana) Washington-Marion. COMMITTED. Joseph vebally committed to UCLA in mid-August, after two years of making a concerted effort at earning a scholarship offer. Joseph actually came to UCLA's four-day camp in June, and he rode a bus for four days from Louisiana to do it. On the football field, Joseph played defensive end for his high school team as a junior, where he collected 97 tackles and 11 quarterback sacks. He will play linebacker as a senior, and many schools besides UCLA had noticed him this spring and summer at various camps, where he showed a good body and quickness. At the Nike Camp he recorded a 4.7 40 and jumped 30 inches. He chose UCLA over LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State and Tulane. He's good academically.

Zach Latimer, 6-2, 220, Aurora (Colo.) Gateway (pictured at right). Latimer is considered one of the best, if not the best, linebacker prospect in the west. Max Emfinger has him ranked as the #1 weakside linebacker prospect in the country. He led the state of Colorado in sacks last year. His high school coach said he'd actually like to use him as an option quarterback, a testament to his skills and athleticism. Latimer is also a very good point guard on the basketball court; if he played basketball year-round, he'd be among the top 15 or so point guards on the west coast. Latimer came to Los Angeles in late July for a AAU basketball tournament and loved the area and the weather. As a result, he said that UCLA was now his leader. He's also considering Texas, Colorado, Miami, and Purdue.  Narrowed list and dropped UCLA.

Aaron Harris, 5-11, 224, 4.6, Mesquite (Tex.) North Mesquite. Harris is considered one of the best prospects in Texas and in the country. He visited UCLA unofficially this summer. UCLA is on his list, along with Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State, Miami and Florida. UCLA would have to be considered a longshot.  Off the List.

Justin London, 6-1, 223, 4.6, Roanoke (Virg.) Northside. The kid who came out to the San Diego Nike Camp to get noticed by UCLA, London is one of the best in the east. He visited UCLA's campus during spring practice. On tape, he looks quick and has a nose for the ball. London's had two good games so far for his senior season. His favorite schools are Tennessee, Virginia Tech, UCLA, North Carolina State and Virginia. UCLA will probably move up the list if London officially visits, which he wants to do, and UCLA offers. Latest Recruiting Update

Wesley Walker, 6-2, 220, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat. A somewhat overlooked sleeper by recruiting services, college coaches, though, know about Walker. He has good size and good quickness. UCLA has been recruiting him, as well as the Pac-10, while he likes UCLA quite a bit.

Alex Ligon, 6-3, 225, 4.6, Torrance (Calif.) North. One of the newest names on the scene, Ligon impressed at the San Diego Nike camp with some great numbers – a 4.68 40, 4.49 shuttle, 33-inch vertical and 21 reps on the bench. Considered a raw prospect, he might end up being the best linebacker in the Los Angeles area by the end of next season. Committed to Colorado.

Marcus Smith, 6-5, 210, San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay. Big and athletic, Smith has some of the best potential of anyone on this list. He's also a decent wing on the basketball court. If he continues to get bigger, which most scouts believe he will, combine that with his quickness and athleticism, and you could have a big-time player. Smith is looking at the Pac-10, as well as others. He's definitely on UCLA's to-watch list.

Ricky Miller, 6-3, 225, 4.65, Tustin (Calif.) High. Miller is playing tailback primarily in high school, where he looked good in his first game of the season. He has very good speed for his size, running a 4.65 in the 40 at the Nike Camp. He also jumped 28 inches in the vertical. USC leads, while UCLA is close. A recruiting update is forthcoming.  Committed to Fresno State.

Chad Slapnicka, 6-2, 228, 4.7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Slapnicka has some pretty compelling elements going for him. He has good size and good instincts on the field. Off the field, he's from Matt Ware's alma mater and he has a 3.97 GPA and scored a 1330 on his SAT. His father went to Oregon, and the Ducks and UCLA alternate as his leader. Currently, Oregon leads since they seem to be recruiting him the hardest. UCLA has yet to offer, but if he has a great senior season and UCLA offers, UCLA could be tough to beat. Washington and Cal are also involved.  Off the List.

Ed Jackson, 6-2, 210, 4.6, La Marque (Tex.) High. Jackson had a good showing at the Nike Texas A&M Camp, showing the quickness and speed needed to play OLB on the next level. He has said he'd like to go away to school and recently said UCLA was his #1 choice. He's on UCLA's to-watch list. Also likes Miami, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.

Scott White, 6-2, 225, 4.6, San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay. Probably the best linebacker in San Diego, White had a great junior year, recording 100 tackles and eight sacks, while also doing duty at fullback. UCLA was his favorite growing up, but he now likes USC, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and others. Off the List.

Keevin Hardiman, 6-0, 200, 4.7, Lakewood (Calif.) High. Hardiman is fairly unknown but on many to-watch lists, including UCLA's. He had ten sacks last year as a junior, and could end up as either a linebacker or possibly a safety. He's visited UCLA unofficially and has said that UCLA is his favorite at this point. He also likes ASU and Oregon State.

Ross Wolter, 6-3, 220, Elsinore (Calif.) High. Wolter attended UCLA's one-day camp and was physically impressive. He's definitely someone UCLA is watching this season.

Eric Beegun, 6-3, 230, Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades. A big kid who also plays tight end, Beegun is pretty fast for his size, which has college coaches taking notice. He has excellent grades, and is looking at the Ivies, as well as Pac-10 schools. He's on UCLA's to-watch list.

Kyle Goodman, 6-1, 220, 4.7, Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan. Goodman recorded 12 sacks as a junior and is considered one of the best prospects in central California. He camped at Stanford and the Cardinal lead for him, over UCLA, Oregon and Fresno State. Stanford and UCLA have yet to offer.  Off the List.

John Dillon, 6-3, 200, 4.6, San Pedro (Calif.) High. A long-time Bruin fan, coming from a Bruin-fan family, Dillon is a raw prospect with good size and athleticism. If UCLA offered, he'd jump. Also considering Arizona State, Oregon and USC.  Off the List.

Micah Woods, 6-1, 242, 4.6, Houston (Tex.) Sterling. A strong, physical linebacker prospect, UCLA is recruiting, and Woods likes UCLA along with LSU, Tennessee, Tulsa, and Mississippi State. Off the List.


Cornerback is a position you just can't have enough talent. UCLA brought in some guys who were athletes this year that they'll try to make into corners, but this next high school class has some great talent at the postion and UCLA will probably have no limits as to how many of them they'll take.

Joe Garcia, 6-0, 180, 4.4, Los Alamitos (Calif.)(pictured at right) High. COMMITTED. Garcia was on the radar screen before the San Diego Nike Camp but went from a blip to an aircraft carrier when he blew up at the camp. He had the fastest shuttle time in the nation from the Nike camps (3.82). UCLA offered him during the summer, and he committed in July, being a long-time UCLA fan. He's considered one of the best on the west coast. Garcia is a very good student.

Jebiaus Brown, 5-11, 180, Milpitas (Calif.) High. COMMITTED. Attending the former high school of Tab Perry, Brown is close with Perry and has UCLA as his favorite, followed by Arizona, Nebraska, Illinois and USC. He's considered as one of the best emerging prospects in the west. 

Aaron Miller, 5-11, 175, 4.4, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. Considered among the elite DB prospects in the country, Miller looks fast and aggressive on tape. He comes from Ricky Manning's high school, is close with Ricky and has said in the past that UCLA is his #1 choice at this point. His coaches rave not only about his football talents but the type of kid he is. UCLA, obviously, has him as a high priority.

Willie Gaston, 5-9, 190, Houston (Tex.) Northshore. Gaston plays quarterback for his bigtime high school program, and is considered a great all-around athlete who can play wide receiver or cornerback in college. He'll trip to UCLA in January.

Dominic Dixon, 5-10, 180, 4.4, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea. Considered one of the best on the west coast, Dixon is quick and built well. UCLA has had him as a target for a while and he has said he likes UCLA, as well as Washington and few others in the Pac-10, along with Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Off the List.


Quinton McCoy, 5-10, Phoenix (Ariz.) Valley Christian. Fastest player in Arizona, having run a 10.53 in the 100m state finals. Everyone in the west is on him and he has mentioned UCLA among 8 or so schools recently.  Off the List.

Noah Strozier, 5-11, 175, Rockhurst (Missouri) High. A big target in the midwest, UCLA is recruiting and Strozier has said UCLA is among his top five.

Willie Andrews, ATH/WR/RB, 5-10, 170, 4.4, Longview (Tex.) High. Another highly recruited athlete from Texas, Andrews is considered probably one of the best all-around athletes in the state. The local schools are on him hard and UCLA is trying.

Roshawn Pope, 6-0, 180, Galveston (Tex.) Ball. Considered one of the best in Texas, he's still pretty wide open. He has said he favors Nebraska recently, but has UCLA on his list of five.  Off the List.

Darius Conner, 5-11, 175, Inglewood (Calif.) High. One of the best in the L.A. area, Conner had a great junior year, being named All-CIF while collecting 10 interceptions. He is on UCLA's list and has said in the past he likes UCLA, USC, and other Pac-10s.

Keith Howell, ATH/WR, 6-0, 185, 4.5, Newhall (Calif.) Hart. A nice-looking athlete from Hart, Howell is fast and has good quickness. He attended UCLA's junior day and UCLA likes him but, as with many college coaching staffs, doesn't know where to project him. He's on the to-watch list.

Edorian McCullough, ATH/WR/RB, 5-11, 180, 4.4, Garland (Tex.) North Garland. One of the best all-around athletes in Texas, McCullough is being recruited at a few positions. UCLA is trying. Off the List.

Marcus McCutcheon, 5-11, 4.5, 170, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison. Half brother of former USC player Daylon, McCutcheon looked very good at the San Diego Nike Camp. UCLA is recruiting him but he's considered a lean to USC. Also considering Washington and Nebraska.  Off the List.

A.J. Martinez, 5-11, 175, 4.4, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison. McCutcheon's teammate, Martinez could be better than McCutcheon, with better speed and quickness. Martinez is also a USC lean, but UCLA is trying to wedge in there, along with Arizona and Nebraska.  Off the List.

Steve Simonton, 5-9, 160, Pittsburg (Calif.) The little brother of Oregon State All-American running back Kevin Simonton, Steve has good quickness and is built well. He's on UCLA's to-watch list.

Aaron Gipson, ATH/RB, 5-9, 170, Fontana (Calif.) High. A nice athlete but on the smaller side, Gipson is also a decent basketball player. He's on UCLA's list and has said he likes the Bruins. Off the List.

Reggie Grigsby, 5-11, 180, Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino. Gribsby attended UCLA's one-day, has a good body and good skills. A guy to watch.  Off the List.

Michael Rubie, 5-10, 175, Cerritos (Calif.) High. He looked very good at UCLA's one-day, quick and explosive -- while also running well in the 40. UCLA will be watching him closely this season.  Off the List.


Eric McNeal, ATH/WR, 6-2, 180, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. COMMITTED. Eric had a great season as a junior, excelling at safety and quarterback. He loves wide receiver and has already cleared it with the UCLA staff that he'll get a shot at wide receiver if he wants it. But most project his future at safety, where his aggressiveness and hitting ability can really shine. He's been ranked among the top 100 players in the country as a safety.

Jarrad Page, 6-1, 185, 4.5, San Leandro (Calif.) (pictured at right) Page really improved his stock this spring, at the Stanford Nike Camp, turning in one of the best performances by a DB. He's big and quick, and has a great body that could put on some muscle. Page has had UCLA as his leader for a while, also considering USC, Oregon, Washington and Cal. He, in fact, might be a candidate for one of the prospects who could commit very soon.

Dashon Goldson, ATH, 6-2, 180, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne. A great-looking athlete, Goldson is quick and agile. He attended UCLA's one-day camp and looked great, but might have a problem qualifying. If he does, UCLA is his first choice.  Off the List due to academics.

Randy Beckman, 6-0, 200, 4.5, Glendale College. Beckman is considered one of the best JC DBs in the west, having made all-conference last year as a freshman. He has shown interest in UCLA and UCLA is interested in him. Off the List.

Vickiel Vaughn, 6-1, 185, Plano Tex.) West. One of the best in the state of Texas and possibly the country, Vaughn is getting recruited by Texas, Nebraska, Notre Dame and others. UCLA is hanging in there with him.  Off the List.

Eric Frampton, 6-1, 190, San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove. Frampton could play corner, too, with good speed and agility. The first call Frampton received September 1st was from UCLA. He could be leaning toward Washington right now, and has said he wants to visit Washington, UCLA, Oregon and USC.  Off the List.

Mike Nixon, ATH, 6-2, 185, Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnyslope, Nixon, who also plays quarterback, is a nice all-around athlete who needs to get bigger and stronger. UCLA is watching him, but he has said, even recently that UCLA is still his favorite, while UCLA waits to see how he does in his senior season before he offers him. He also l9ikes Oregon and Arizona. Nixon is a very good student.

Darnell Bing, 6-2, 210, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. One of the best in the west, and the country, Bing is big and quick, and could end up a linebacker on the next level. UCLA is trying hard, but Bing doesn't mention the Bruins much. Oregon, Oregon State and USC look to be the favorites.

Bernard Lam, 6-3, 186, La Jolla (Calif.) Bishop's School. Lam really showed his raw athleticism at the San Diego Nike Camp. He ran a 4.49 40, a 4.22 shuttle, did 17 reps on the bench and jumped 27 inches in the vertical. Some have said he could be the best talent in San Diego this year. UCLA is watching. Off the List.

Brien Ealy, 6-3, 185, 4.5, Cypress Falls (Tex.) High. A big kid with good quickness and speed, UCLA is looking at Ealy primarily as a wide receiver but, like many programs recruiting him, is also considering him as a DB. He also has listed Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Miami and Texas.Off the List.

Donald Richardson, 6-4, 190, Beverly Hills (Calif.) High. A big kid with great potential, UCLA has a good "in" since he's from Jibril Raymo's alma mater. Richardson likes Washington, UCLA, and USC.Off the List.

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