Recruiting: Toailoa narrowed his list of schools to six a few weeks ago but, realistically, this was always going to be a two-team race between UCLA and USC. He comes from a USC family but UCLA has been recruiting Toailoa harder than anyone over the last year. Leading up to his Monday announcement, it looked too close to call and some close to him said the linebacker was still mulling things over an hour before his announcement. The confusion for Toailoa wasn't so much what school he preferred, as it was generally believed he was a solid UCLA lean. The issue was how much influence his family would have on the decision and whether he might pick USC because it was what his family wanted for him. In the end, Toailoa said he went with gut and picked the school where he felt he fit in the best. He added that he won't be taking any other visits but it won't surprise us if he still decides to check out Oregon or Notre Dame at some point in the process.
What to Like:Toailoa is a prototype inside 'backer with toughness, physicality and hitting ability. In fact, he might be the most physical 'backer out West and loves contact. He's a very strong, powerful kid, shows excellent instincts, a non-stop motor and is a much better athlete than given credit for. He can make plays from sideline to sideline, has the quickness to get into the backfield and can chase down a ball carrier from behind. Playing a lot of 7v7 action over the last two springs has been very helpful to him in his ability to play in space and drop in to coverage. Saying that, he's definitely a pads guy and a true enforcer on the field who plays with an edge to him. He's also a tremendous leader, a very outgoing kid who others gravitate towards. He'll likely end up a captain at some point in his college career and will be a great teammate as well.
Areas to improve: Toailoa has put on about 20 pounds since last season and it wasn't all good weight. He has a naturally big frame and staying in great shape and keeping his quickness will be something he'll always have to work hard on. He very well could end up in the 245 pounds range but as long as he maintains his speed and agility, he can play at that weight. At 235, he still showed good mobility and the ability to break down and make a play in the open field at the recent Opening Regional camp in L.A.
Overall Analysis:Landing Toailoa was huge for the Bruins on multiple levels. For one, he's a fantastic football player at a big position of need. UCLA doesn't have a lot of depth at inside 'backer and Toailoa is the No. 1-rated MLB out West and a top-70 player nationally. When you combine him with his Ground Zero teammate, Krys Barnes, UCLA now has the top two-rated inside 'backers in the region. Toailoa also brings a ton of leadership and fire to the table. We always downplay the package deal theory but other players will be interested in UCLA because of Toailoa's outgoing personally and presence. He's also a local player who had a USC offer and it wasn't too long ago that any local player with offers from both schools would be close to a slam dunk for the Trojans, no matter what the depth chart looked like. It's a very nice start for new UCLA Linebackers Coach Scott White and brings some nice national buzz for the Bruin program as well.