Recruiting Reset: Defense

Jan. 12 -- With the Dead Period ending this week, official visits happening this weekend and Signing Day closing in, we're ramping up the recruiting coverage. Here are the prospects left on UCLA's 2015 recruiting board, starting with defense...

UCLA currently has 18 commitments and, interestingly, only 18 scholarships open for the 2015 class.

That will certainly make some BROs on the Premium Football Message Board panic.

Every year, however, it seems fans get concerned about the number of scholarships available and it never ends up a problem. We anticipate by next fall, when UCLA has to be at the NCAA-allowed number of 85, it will be fine. There will be players that leave the program due to medical reasons or transfer. In fact, we count at least seven players on the roster we could see leaving the program for various reasons by next October. UCLA, then, won’t think twice about taking 22-25 players in this class. In fact, if UCLA runs the table and gets everyone, we feel it would take them all and sort it out later.



DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Needs at Position: 1-2

Prospects Still on the Board:

Joseph Wicker, 6-4, 275, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #195 Overall, #20 DE OFFERED
Du'Vonta Lampkin, 6-4, 295, Houston (Texas) Cypress Falls
Ranking: #284 Overall, #24 DT OFFERED
Kyon Clark, 6-1, 345, Rialto (Calif.) Carter
Ranking: #96 DT
Gary Baker, 6-3, 280, Upland (Calif.)

When employing a 3-4, you’d like to pick up nose guard every year, but while it looks unlikely that will happen, we’ve heard that there are some players currently in the program that could fulfill that bill after Kenneth Clark leaves in the next 1-2 years. This group also includes the three-technique, which is the player who lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard, so really two inside DL positions.

Joseph Wicker
Wicker’s a prospect that projects to playing either the nose or three-technique regardless of how his body goes, so that versatility is very valuable. We think he ends up a nose. There have been some ups and downs in his recruitment, but we expect it all to be resolved during his offical visit Jan. 23-25. Right now UCLA leads, but ASU is the main competiton. Clark will also visit the same weekend, and while he’s verbally committed to Montana, we’ve heard that if UCLA offers him he’ll flip. He is the younger brother of Ken Clark, and is a project, but a promising one. He’ll have to spend a couple of years in the program changing his body, slimming down and getting stronger, but its believed that underneath some of that weight is a very good athlete. Getting Wicker and Clark would be a very good interior DL class, giving you someone with some elite talent who could play pretty quickly in Wicker, and then a developmental player with potential in Clark. We’re throwing in Lampkin here because the last we heard is that he could potentially visit UCLA this January. He’s committed to Texas but there has been some talk that he could check out UCLA on an official visit at the end of January, but we’re skeptical it comes to fruition. Baker is a guy who has some D-1 interest but will more than likely come to UCLA as a quality preferred walk-on.

Above-Expectation Scenario: UCLA gets Wicker, and Lampkin decides to visit and he flips, and then UCLA grayshirts Clark.
Good Scenario: UCLA gets Wicker and Clark.
Disappointing Scenario: It misses on Wicker.


DEFENSIVE END

Needs at Position: 2-3

Prospects Still on the Board:

Rick Wade, 6-5, 231, Santa Margarita(Calif.)
Ranking: #32 DE COMMITTED

Cassius Peat, 6-4, 235, Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol
Ranking: #132 Overall, #15 DE COMMITTED
Benning Potoae, 6-4, 265, Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes
Ranking: #209 Overall, #23 DE OFFERED
Tyrone Wheatley, 6-6, 250, Buffalo (New York) Canisius
Ranking: #138 Overall, #16 DE OFFERED

UCLA is looking good with defensive end recruiting, with a good one (Wade) firmly on board, another (Peat) partially on board, one more (Potoae) looking very good and then having a shot at another (Wheatley). Also, remember, UCLA got JC defensive end Takkarist McKinley as an early gift when he enrolled at UCLA in October.

Rick Wade
We really like Wade, and feel he’s been overlooked a bit since he committed early and has been so stable in his recruitment. He’s a Dave Ball-type, who will play the Owa Odighizuwa defensive end role. Peat is still verbally committed but is flirting with ASU. He has said he’ll make a Signing Day decision and we’re of the notion that he’ll probably opt for ASU. Peat, right now, is a hybrid LB/DE, but we think projects to defensive end in college. One of our favorite prospects in the 2015 class is Potoae, who is a raw jumbo athlete with some considerable upside. He’s lean at 265 pounds and could very well end up 290 and move inside. Regardless, he’s a guy who you just take, coach up, see which way his body goes and plug him in. UCLA is the favorite, from what we hear, but he’s already visited UCLA and has a visit to hometown Washington this weekend (Jan. 16). We expect he’ll probably be ready to decide by next week, and UCLA coaches will be in his home. A class of Wade and Potoae, even if UCLA loses Peat, would be a very good one and fulfill needs. Then there is the #16-ranked DE in the nation, Wheatley, who will visit UCLA Jan. 23-25. We’ve heard UCLA is a serious consideration but with his father taking the job at alma mater Michigan with Jim Harbaugh, USC recruiting him as a tight end (which he has a passion to play even though he projects better as a defensive end), it’s completely up in the air what could happen with Wheatley.

Above-Expectation Scenario: Obviously it’s if UCLA sweeps the remainder of the DE prospects left on the board. But it will still be above expectation if UCLA gets three among Wade, Potoae, Peat and Wheatley.
Good Scenario: UCLA gets Wade and one among Peat, Potoae or Wheatley.
Disappointing Scenario: It loses Peat and misses on Potoae and Wheatley.

RUSH LINEBACKER/DEFENSIVE END

Needs at Position: 1-2

Keisean Lucier-South, 6-5, 220, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran
Ranking: #32 Overall, #5 OLB COMMITTED
Jeff Holland, 6-3, 230, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #80 Overall, #7 OLB OFFERED

Keisean Lucier-South
How good Lucier-South looked in the U.S. Army Bowl was one of the best developments in the last few weeks, with his quickness around the edge looking truly elite. There were suspicions that he wasn’t developing, but he definitely looked like a five-star prospect all week during practice and, most noteably, looked like he had gotten a little bigger physically. Lucier-South could end up a pure defensive end and not in this hybrid category, but right now he projects to pretty much exactly what Anthony Barr was for UCLA. Holland is another in the same mode as a prospect, but the latest is that it’s uncertain where UCLA stands with him and if he’s even officially visiting. It’s not that big of a blow, considering UCLA has KLS, but as this season attested, you can’t have enough pass rushers on your roster.

Above-Expectation Scenario: If UCLA gets both Lucier-South and Holland. That’s popping corks time.
Good Scenario: UCLA holds pat with Lucier-South.
Disappointing Scenario: It's over with Holland, and Lucier-South does a last-minute flip to Michigan (it’s not going to happen, just keeping you alert).



LINEBACKER

Needs at Position: 2-3

Prospects Still on the Board:

Josh Woods, 6-2, 210, Upland (Calif.)
Ranking: #254 Overall, #21 OLB COMMITTED
Victor Alexander, 5-10, 225, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #24 MLB COMMITTED
Osa Masina, 6-4, 210, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton
Ranking: #22 Overall, #2 OLB OFFERED
Roquan Smith, 6-1, 207, Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County
Ranking: #67 Overall, #2 MLB OFFERED

Victor Alexander
UCLA looks good at linebacker recruiting, with Woods and Alexander already in the fold. We really like Alexander, and think he’s under-rated just because of his size, and believe Woods is one of the best propects in the west, being just 16 years old. Alexander is the Mike linebacker in UCLA’s defense (the Eric Kendricks role), while Woods is the Will (the Myles Jack position), so they fit really well together. Masina (Pictured Above) is whatever he wants to be. He could have an immediate impact at the Sam (Anthony Barr/Deon Hollins position), or at the other inside linebacker spot next to the Mike, or we could easily see him excel at the Jack role since he’s very good for his size in coverage. Many prospects have been called the next Myles Jack but Masina actually best fits the moniker since he has the physical and athletic tools to pull it off. He’s down to UCLA, USC and ASU and, like we’ve said, on any given day we’ve heard it could be any of the three. We still have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be USC, but all the schools will have in-home visits with him before he announces on the 23rd. Smith is probably going to Georgia, but he has yet to take his official visit to UCLA (Jan. 30th), and we expect that will give him some things to think about – but still opt for Georgia.

Above-Expectation Scenario: It’d be ridiculous to think UCLA has a realistic chance to get both Masina and Smith to go along with Alexander and Woods.
Very Good Scenario: UCLA wins the Masina sweepstakes, and keeps Alexander in the fold to go along with Woods.
Disappointing Scenario: Masina opts for USC.



DEFENSIVE BACKS

Needs at Position: 4+

Prospects Still on the Board:

Colin Samuel, 6-2, 175, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #40 CB COMMITTED
William Lockett, 6-0, 182, Manvel (Tex.)
Ranking: #72 CB COMMITTED
Octavius Spencer, 6-1.5, 170, Monrovia (Calif.)
Ranking: #48 CB COMMITTED
Iman Marshall, 6-1, 190, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #11 Overall, #2 CB OFFERED
Dechaun Holiday, 6-2, 190, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills
Ranking: #92 Overall, #10 CB OFFERED
Prentice McKinney, 6-2, 180, Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff
Ranking: #30 S OFFERED
Nathan Meadors, 6-2, 180, San Bernardino (Calif.) San Gorgonio
Ranking: #68 S OFFERED
Fotu Leiato, 6-0, 200, Steilacoom (Wash.)
Ranking: 3-Star, NR at OLB OFFERED

Dechaun Holiday
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, but it's not as deep as it necessarily looks, with the future of some injured guys questionable. In fact, it looked like UCLA a few months ago would just take two DBs, but it now could take four or more. 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. We've seen this season how versatile DBs like Anthony Jefferson and Ishmael Adams can add dimension and depth to a secondary. With three committed, it's safe to assume if UCLA wouldn't hesitate to add two and even three more elite guys.

UCLA DB recruiting for 2015 will be, at least, solid, and has a chance to finish off exceptionally. The three commitments – Samuel, Lockett and Spencer – provide some talent that will be able to keep UCLA stocked for the next several years. We think Samuel has a chance to be special. UCLA is also thought to be the clear leader for Holiday, and he’s a talented prospect and one of the most coveted DBs in the west. Those four would be a good class, but it’s still missing that lockdown cornerback. Of course, Biggie Marshall provides that role. There continue to be rumors not to count out UCLA for Marshall, but we’re skeptical and still think he’s destined for USC. Meadors looks to be a good prospect, but it's difficult to tell if he'd be a guy that really is going to be a potential starter. If you go by offers (UCLA, Notre Dame and Oregon) it would appear he has a chance. Leiato is an interesting recruiting story, coming on very late once his senior tape went out. He plays linebacker in high school but probably projects to safety. UCLA is thought to be doing well with him but now Oregon, Michigan State and Oklahoma are making a run at him. He’ll visit UCLA the last weekend of January. McKinney, a Notre Dame commitment, is visiting in January.

Above-Expectation Scenario: UCLA gets Marshall.
Good Scenario: It adds Holiday to the prospects committed.
Disappointing Scenario: It doesn’t get Marshall and misses on Holiday.

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