Semper Fi Bowl Preview: Storylines to Watch

Dec. 30 -- Heading in to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Scout takes a look at some key storylines...

Semper Fi Bowl Roster

While BRO is in San Antonio this week for the Alamo Bowl and the Army Bowl, Scout will also be in Orange County for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

The Semper Fi Bowl features one UCLA commit and a number of out-of-state recruits.

Here are the five storylines to watch at Semper Fi Bowl, which starts practices Wednesday at Santa Ana College (West) and Fullerton College (East).

1. Remember Me?
As good as UCLA's offensive line class has been this year, some forget that Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde offensive guard Tevita Halalilo was the first commit on the line. The four-star pledged to the Bruins back in April and took his official visit back in early October for the Utah game. He's a relatively low-key player but had a very good senior season and will actually be coached in the game by his coach at Rancho Verde, Pete Duffy, who's the head coach for the West. One of the premier linemen out West, with Halalilo being the only UCLA commit in the game, it will be his chance to shine.

2. How Serious is Strickland?
The Dallas (Texas) Skyline receiver was set to visit UCLA for the Arizona game but then relatively out-of-the-blue, committed to Texas Tech and cancelled all his official visits. But when longtime Texas Tech quarterback commit Jarrett Stidham decommitted and eventually flipped to Baylor, Strickland softened a bit, though he reiterated to Scout it wasn't directly related to Stidham's decision. Now, Strickland is set to visit UCLA in January and the Bruins haven't given up on him. The four-star will get an early look at Southern California and the visit a couple weeks later could be big for their chances.

3. Will Benning Be Back in SoCal?
Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes defensive end Benning Potoae was at UCLA for an official visit the weekend the Bruins beat USC. He'll spend the week back in Southern California for the Semper Fi Bowl and we've already heard that UCLA is having Halalilo work hard on Potoae to make a more permanent move to Los Angeles. Potoae will be in SoCal for the week then two weeks later, he'll take his last official visit, to Washington. His coach, Dave Miller, said Benning doesn't anticipate making a long drawn out decision, but will quietly decide shortly after his visit to Washington and the Bruins are hoping to steal the top defensive player in Washington for the second time in three years.

4. What About Wheatley?
Tyrone Wheatley will visit UCLA next month officially but will split his SoCal visits with a trip to the region for the Semper Fi Game. He visited USC officially this month and then the Bruins will get him in late January. UCLA is recruiting Wheatley as a jumbo athlete, with the ability to play defensive end or tight end. But much like Chris Clark, Wheatley could be watching the hire of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan very closely. Unlike Clark, though, Wheatley is a Michigan legacy, his father, Tyrone Sr., playing for the Wolverines a few years after Harbaugh. Could that bring him back to his first love or is Michigan to far out and can the Bruins stay in striking distance, especially if they get Clark and lose Alize Jones? That question could be answered this week.

5. Is There Any Chance at Sanders?
UCLA offered Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame receiver C.J. Sanders in the fall, but he'd already been a commit to Notre Dame. And he's remained pretty steadfast in that decision. But with Angus McClure being a perpetual thorn in the side of Notre Dame (see Vanderdoes, Eddie and Dickerson, Matt), and "Uncle Angus" recruiting Sanders (with the Valley being his region), UCLA is still trying with Sanders. And UCLA would love the speedster, who is a true slot and would fill that role that UCLA has found next to impossible to fill. He hasn't talked much since early October, not long after his visit to Notre Dame, but was even vague then when asked if he was entirely done with recruiting. Can UCLA pull one over on the Irish again?


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