With the two-deep thin at defensive tackle, and losing the starting two tackles this year to graduation, the position is a high priority for UCLA. They needed two tackles, and maybe even five defensive lineman types total that could play defensive tackle or defensive end, and they did dip into the JC ranks to fill some needs.
Kenneth Lombard, 6-1, 270, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. COMMITTED. The brother of former UCLA defensive tackle Kory Lombard, he had a strong showing at the UCLA 4-Day Camp and was offered soon after and immediately committed to his "dream school." A List.
Chris Johnson, 6-3, 270, River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian. COMMITTED. Johnson, a teammate of linebacker commit Fred Holmes and offensive line recruit Aaron Meyer, is a big, quick tackle in the middle. He had around 60 tackles and 5 sacks for the Patriots. A List.
Tony Lee, 6-4, 260, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. COMMITTED. A solid prospect from Serra High, Lee was on the Bruins list for some time, and they tripped him in Mid-January. He was offered on his visited and committed on the spot. Lee could also play offensive line, though his preference is on the defensive side of the ball, where he could play either end or tackle. A List.
Matt Owens, 6-4, 240, Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln. Owens was scheduled to visit UCLA the second weekend in January but didn't make the trip. Owens has said that he will either walk-on at Colorado or UCLA, where he could ski or surf. Good combination of size and speed.
In the same boat as they are with defensive tackles, UCLA needs ends. Four defensive ends on the UCLA roster will graduate in 2004. They lost one, young scholarship end this spring. So, ends are a big priority. As stated above with defensive tackles, there are many prospects listed at other positions (namely defensive tackle or tight end) that could end up playing defensive end in college.
Brigham Harwell, 6-1, 250, Hacienda Heights (Calif.) Los Altos. COMMITTED. One of UCLA's top targets, Harwell ended a summer of uncertainty by picking the Bruins, his childhood favorite. One of the top defensive ends in the nation, Harwell is impressive in person, with great quickness, balance and pursuit to the ball. He's a bit undersized, but he's just a very good football player that could end up at any number of positions, depending on how his body develops. Easily, the Bruins top commitment to date. Has visited Arizona State, and the Sun Devils have pulled even with the Bruins. Though he said he is leaning towards UCLA, he reportedly is wide open. Harwell was recently named the Southern California Player of the Year by the L.A. Times. A List.
Kyle Morgan, 6-4, 250, Poplarville (Miss.) Pearl River JC. COMMITTED. Morgan originally signed with Miami (Fla.) out of high school and was a redshirt on the Hurricanes 2001 National Championship team. He left to go to Pearl River, where he was a 2-time honoree and led them in sacks the past two seasons. He has two years to play two seasons, and could potentially start in 2004. Morgan, from San Francisco, signed with the Bruins over Alabama, Texas A&M, Louisville and Illinois. A List.
Justin Hickman, 6-2, 250, Glendale (Ariz.) CC. COMMITTED. Hickman has grown about 2 inches and put on about 20 pounds since his senior year in high school. He will have four years to play three. Hickman had a good visit to UCLA and narrowed his choices down to UCLA and Washington State, but ultimately signed with the Bruins and will come in for Spring Practice. A List.
Alan King, 6-3, 240, North Hills (Calif.) Monroe. He was one of the most impressive physically at the Southern California Nike Camp, King has just begun to tap into his potential, having only played football last year. He lists UCLA as his favorite, ahead of Oregon and Washington.
It's a fairly thin year in the west, but luckily UCLA isn't too thin at linebacker for the forseeable future. UCLA definitely needs some bodies at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker, and probably could take 2 to 4 total linebackers.
Fred Holmes, 6-1, 235, River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian. COMMITTED. Holmes is one of two Bruin commits from John Curtis Christian. A speedy pass rusher, Holmes is an outside linebacker who can play either on the strongside or the weakside. A List.
Dan Nelson, 6-2, 235, Yuma (Arizona) Arizona Western. COMMITTED. Nelson was a JUCO All-American, and after a stint in the military, comes to UCLA with four years to play three seasons. He was originally from Boise, Idaho, but spent the last season as an honored linebacker for Arizona Western. Nelson could compete for the starting position vacated by the graduating Brandon Chillar. A List.
On the west coast, the defensive back talent is loaded for the class of 2004, with a number of elite, national-level recruits as well as some very strong regional-level talents.
With UCLA's talented defensive backfield now starting to age a little (Matt Ware gone to the NFL and Ben Emanuel and Matt Clark being seniors) this is the recruiting class that UCLA needs to replace that level of elite talent. With a good number of scholarships overall to give to the class, and the defensive back class being so deep for 2004, look for UCLA to bring in up to four defensive back recruits. Many of these guys are so worthy of scholarships since they're also very good all-around athletes that could plug in to a number of positions.
Rodney Van, 6-0, 170, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. COMMITTED. One of the best athletes in the west, with blazing sprinter speed and great agility. He's probably among the top two corner prospects in the west and among the best in the country. Van had UCLA as his leader for a while, and he committed to UCLA on Junior Day, May 31st. A List.
Michael Norris, 5-10, 175, Oakland (Calif.) Skyline. COMMITTED. Only played the game for two years, but is a gifted athlete, who had a strong senior year, scoring 21 touchdowns on offense, and having 8 interceptions on defense. Also a talented track sprinter, could do both in college. Flew under the radar, but had offers from Oregon, UNLV, Washington State, Arizona State and Nebraska. A List.
Byron Velega, 5-10, 180, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. COMMITTED. A teammate of Bruin commit Rodney Van, Velega played opposite of Van for the Jackrabbits. Originally Velega said that Cal, Oregon and Washington State were his three leaders, and that UCLA had too many corners, but a successful visit in December catapulted the Bruins to the top along with Oregon and Washington State. Velega was waiting on an offer from childhood favorite USC, but when it never materialized, he decided to commit to the Bruins. A List.
Daniel Drayton, 5-10, 185, Hacienda Heights (Calif.) Los Altos. COMMITTED. A kid who makes plays at safety, despite being 5-9 and not having blazing speed. He's aggressive and a very good hitter. Colorado and Oregon, among others, had shown interest before UCLA offered, and Drayton committed at UCLA's Junior Day. He's also close buddies with one of UCLA's top defensive prospects, teammate Brigham Harwell. The big question is whether he will get past UCLA admissions. A List.
With Justin Medlock only a redshirt freshman, UCLA will probably just take a punter, as Chris Kluwe is a junior, and already have a commitment from one.
Aaron Perez, 6-3, 215, Covina (Calif.) Charter Oak. COMMITTED. Coming to UCLA as a punter. A strong legged former soccer player, Perez got on UCLA's radar after a strong performance at former Bruin kicker Chris Sailer's camp. UCLA offered and he committed. Averaged 41.5 yards a kick. Will concentrate on punting his first 2-3 years. A first-team all-state selection as a punter.