Palaie Gaoteote (Blair Angulo)

Focus 2018: UCLA Linebacker Recruiting Watch List

Feb. 10 -- We take an early look at the top targets at linebacker for UCLA's 2018 class and some other names to know...

After signing a stellar linebacker class in 2016, the position wasn't as much of a focus in 2017.  

UCLA signed just one linebacker last week, Rahyme Johnson.  UCLA linebacker coach Scott White did target a number of national prospects, especially in Texas, but those prospects all ended up elsewhere.

With Mique Juarez returning to the field this spring, plus Krys Barnes, Breland Brandt and Lokeni Toailoa all on the roster, there is some good young depth.

But signing just Johnson in 2017 makes it much more imperative to sign three linebackers or so.

The top prospect in the West for 2018, regardless of position, is Palaie Gaoteote from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman.  White has been to Vegas a ton to see and be seen by Gaoteote (as well as the other Gorman prospects), so UCLA is really prioritizing him. But the five-star linebacker is coveted nationally so UCLA will have its work cut out for it.

The linebacker class in general is better out West in 2018 than in 2017 and White has extended a number of early offers.

Two of those went to Solomon Tuliaupupu and Salua Masina at the Bruin Elite Camp last summer.  Tuliaupupu has been a key target of White's for a while, with several stops at Claremont in the fall (and White will probably be well known at Santa Ana Mater Dei since Tuliaupupu has now transferred there). 

UCLA offered Reggie Hughes in the fall and the four-star is close with UCLA freshman Darnay Holmes.

They offered Adrian Jackson in the fall as well but the Colorado product has a ton of national offers.

Last week, White offered Ben Wilson, the top inside backer prospect in the West, and the four-star has quite a bit of interest in the Bruins.

An offer was also extended to Brandon Kaho from Reno, and while he's a commit to BYU, he's open to hearing from others since the commitment came early.

There are a slew of national offers out but, with more talent in the region, White figures to focus on the West guys first, much like his 2016 class.

From the next tier, UCLA has kept an eye on Merlin Robertson, but being a Serra product, we've seen how that movie turns out.  White recruited Eli'jah Winston's brother, Lamar, before he signed with Oregon and has a relationship there.  And Jack Lamb visited UCLA this week and would love an offer.


Palaie Gaoteote, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman

Solomon Tuliaupupu, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei

Salua Masina, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton

Adrian Jackson, Denver (Colo.) Mullen

Reggie Hughes, Calabasas (Calif.)

Ben Wilson, Sumner (Wash.)

Brandon Kaho, Reno (Nev.)

Dallas Gant, Toledo (Ohio) St. John's Jesuit

Brian Asamoah, Columbus (Ohio) St. Francis DeSales

Leon O'Neal, Cypress (Texas) Cypress Springs

Xavier Peters, West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West

Alston Orji, Rockwall (Texas)

Amari Gainer, Tallahassee (Fla.) Lawton

Kolin Demens, Detroit (Mich.) Country Day

O'Rion Weems, Dallas (Ga.) East Paulding

Next Tier:

Merlin Robertson, Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Eli'jah Winston, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic

Jack Lamb, Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak

Other Names to Know:

Darien Butler, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne

James Townsend, Encino (Calif.) Crespi Top Stories