Joseph Wicker (6'2, 275)
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
No. 11 DT, No. 93 Overall
Introduction: For whatever reason -- maybe it's all those vegan hipster diets out here -- the West produces very few true defensive tackles, at least in proportion to the South, so UCLA is often in the position of having to project how skinnier linemen are going to look when they add on 30 or 40 pounds. Increasingly over the last year, Joseph Wicker has made that projection a bit easier. He's grown significantly since the beginning of his junior year, culminating in Scout moving him to the defensive tackle side of the rankings in this last update. Now ranked No. 4 among defensive tackles in the West, Wicker has had most of the Pac-12 knocking on his door throughout his recruitment, as well as a few national programs.
Recruitment: Schools have become steadily more interested in Wicker as he's grown into a legitimate three-tech defensive tackle. In September, UCLA offered him after a bit of a hot-and-cold initial recruitment, and the Bruins have been thought to be the leader since then. There esd some talk, though, that Wicker himself might want to get out of Los Angeles, but we've heard more and more that Wicker has backed away from that and is decidedly more comfortable staying home. It's thought the real battle is between UCLA and Arizona State, with Texas Tech waiting in the wings. He'll take his last official visit to UCLA this weekend, and he's said that this visit is a big one for him so he can make his decision.
Evaluation: Wicker was one of the more explosive defensive linemen at US Army practices. Playing both end and tackle, he showed off his versatility, looking athletic and quick enough to pass rush off the edge while also showing the strength and technique to be a force on the interior. His body looks like it's going to end up more in the 280+ pound range, which probably means defensive tackle, but in a 3-4, he'd have a lot of ability to move around. He uses his hands well already, and this past season he was very good against the run. At UCLA, he'd have a chance to play his freshman year, and then would play a significant role going forward as Kenneth Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes both project as potential three-year players in college, and Wicker projects as having the talent to be a two or three-year starter at UCLA.
Official Visit Preview: Joseph Wicker
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