Wicker Ready For Final Visit

Jan. 26 -- Four-star defensive end Joseph Wicker says that the UCLA trip is the last thing he needs to do before he makes his decision...

The recruiting process for four-star defensive end Joseph Wicker is finally winding down. The in-home visits are wrapping up and decision time is imminent. But before he can make his decision, Wicker has one more item on the checklist: the official visit to UCLA.

"I've never actually been there (on the guided tour)," Wicker said. "As soon as I take this visit, I should be cool and know where I'm going."

Wicker has already taken official visits to his two other finalists, Texas Tech and Arizona State, and the Red Raiders came in home earlier this week with their final pitch.

"Really, (Texas Tech) just wanted to tell me how I fit in, what schemes they run," Wicker said. "Really just break it down for my parents, since I already saw it all on my official visit."

UCLA was in-home on Wednesday, and Wicker said that the visit was good to hammer in some of the nuts and bolts of where he'd fit in if he ends up in Westwood.

"They just really wanted to break down everything, because we hadn't really talked about (a lot)," Wicker said. "Just where I'm playing, the defense they run, which is multi, and how I fit into the system."

Heading into this season, Wicker was primarily a defensive end, but new Long Beach Poly coach Antonio Pierce changed that just before the season, dropping Wicker down to defensive tackle. The move paid off, with Wicker recording ten sacks in his first two games and vaulting up recruiting rankings across the country. His performance this year has certainly influenced where he sees himself playing in college.

"I feel like I can play anywhere on the d-line," Wicker said. "But I feel like the three-technique is pretty much my home. At first, playing defensive end, no one wants to move inside. I moved inside, and I was like, 'yeah, whatever.' And then I started to get the hang of it, and it was like, 'yeah, I can do this.'"

Wicker has the frame to handle end or tackle in UCLA's system, as he's fluctuated between 270 and 280 this year, but without much sloppiness to his body.

Wicker was quoted earlier in the process saying that he'd like to go a certain distance from home -- not too far, but not too close -- but as time has gone on, he's backed away from that stance.

"It's not really that big of a priority," Wicker said of the need for some distance. "I said that, but as time passes on, I kind of shy away from it, and kind of go back. Everything changes for me just by experiencing different things and having people tell me different things."

With proximity to home no longer a big factor, Wicker is focusing more on comfort level as Signing Day approaches.

"Somewhere I feel like I can be for four years, not even just playing football," Wicker said of his ideal school. "I want to look at the other side, not even football, just in case something happens. Just somewhere I can be for four years without playing football. Somewhere that has my degree I intend to get. Just somewhere I'll fit into the defense."

Wicker will have an in-home visit with Arizona State's coaches this week, and then will make his decision on Signing Day following his official visit to UCLA next weekend.

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