Mar. 4 -- Gardena (Calif.) Serra defensive end Oluwole Betiku took an unofficial visit to UCLA earlier today and said he had a good time in Westwood.
is one of the top rush ends in the region and made dramatic improvements to his game last year. His story is already well documented. He lives with his guardian, Lavar Arrington and moved from Maryland
to SoCal last summer when Arrington took a job working for the NFL Network.
Betiku had never played football before and in the beginning of the season, he barely knew how to line up. By the end of the year, he was a dominant force off the edge and his upside is off the charts. He's still learning the game and getting bigger and stronger by the day.
"I'm up to 243 pounds now, I played at about 230 last year," Betiku said. "I'm 6-4 and I think I'm still growing too. I've been working hard, lifting and eating and just trying to get stronger. I'm not really concerned with my weight right now, I'm just trying to get stronger and I know I'll add the weight as a result."
Betiku took a visit to UCLA
last year but said the trip today was a lot more enjoyable.
"I felt so much more comfortable today, it was night and day different," Betiku said. "Last year when I went, it was the Kids Choice Awards on campus and it was crazy. Today was more relaxed, just me and Brandon (Burton) hanging out with the coaches.
"I have a great relationship with Coach Angus (McClure), we talk all the time. He messages me almost every day on twitter just to check up on me and see how I'm doing. He said he's always watching my film and can't wait to have the opportunity to coach me. Coach Klemm has been contacting me lately too and I have a really good relationship with those guys."
Betiku has an obvious connection with new UCLA DC Tom Bradley as he coached Arrington at Penn State
"He was more than Lavar's coach, he was like a mentor to him," Betiku said. "That's big because Lavar is always telling me a lot of what I hear from coaches is garbage and not to believe everything they say. With Coach Bradley, Lavar said I can trust him and he knows what he's doing. He said he's a great defensive coach and knows what it takes to get players to the NFL and that's my ultimate dream.
"Coach Bradley had some great Lavar stories. He said he was actually scouting a quarterback when he saw another player just dominating and it was Lavar. He said he knew right then he wanted him. Coach told me I remind him of Tamba Hali
who plays for the Chiefs. UCLA runs a 3-4 and that's the kind of defense I fit in best. They want me as a defensive end but will work on my cover skills just to improve myself as an athlete and make me more marketable to the NFL."
Betiku said he'll head back to UCLA in just a few days.
"Lavar is actually going to bring me back up to UCLA on Friday," Betiku said. That will be the first time he has ever been there but he wants to meet the coaches and see Coach Bradley of course. I really like it at UCLA, it felt like home for me today. Talking with Coach Mora, that was great as well. He's so humble, the way he handles himself, you would never know he was a head coach but then when he talks to you, he's very direct and straight forward. He tells it like it is and I really respect him for that."
"I want to take a few more visits if I can. I would love to see Washington
, Arizona State
. When I go back East in the summer, Lavar wants to take me to Maryland and Penn State. I would also love to see Oregon
if I can. I've been to USC
multiple times and I like it there a lot as well.
"Right now, I like the CA schools. I 'm open to anyone but I like it out here. USC and UCLA are great and I'm talking a lot with California
too. They're a great academic school and that's very important for me. Once I know where I want to go, I won't wait. I don't want to waste anyone's time and the process is already getting stressful for me. I getting messages from coaches all the time to call them up, like 20 a day. It's crazy so the sooner I can get this over, the better."