This year, the outcome of the UCLA/USC game will have a bigger impact on recruiting than in recent years. Many of the recruits that are interested in both UCLA -- Lorenzo Booker, Winston Justice, Fred Matua, Hershel Dennis and Glenn Ohaeri – have followed almost the same recruiting road. They started out in their junior season preferring UCLA (except for Dennis). Then in spring and summer, USC took the lead because of a big recruiting push. UCLA then started out the season strong and USC weak, and UCLA supplanted USC as the leader. The most recent reports have UCLA still holding steady in its lead for these recruits, but it's three-game slide and USC winning three games have probably narrowed the lead. If USC beats UCLA, it would be the biggest recruiting coup it could make this recruiting season – being able to tell all these fence-sitting recruits that, in a down year, the coaching staff's first year, when it had to recover from the state the previous coaching staff left the program in, it managed a winning record, went to a bowl game and beat UCLA – during a year when UCLA was supposed to have one of the best teams in the country. If UCLA wins, it would be on its way to a solid 9-3 record, and would keep USC beaten down, with a losing record, no bowl game, and nothing to hang its hat on with these recruits.
Other bits of recruiting news that have been collected here and there:
UCLA is making some in-roads with DT, Jake Kuresa, 6-4, 310, Hyrum (Utah) Mountain Crest. Kuresa is considered one of the best on the west coast and UCLA has been staying on him, despite the fact that Kuresa hadn't mentioned UCLA in the past and even had said before that USC was his preference.
Reports are that the academics of Haloti Ngata, DT, 6-5, 305, Salt Lake City (Utah) Highland, are questionable. UCLA more than likely will not be able to continue to recruit Ngata.
Isaiah Stanback, the athletic quarterback prospect from Seattle (Wash.) Garfield, will not take his official visit to UCLA, as was planned. UCLA and Stanback have more or less gone their separate ways since UCLA received an oral commitment from Drew Olson.
Shelton Sampson, RB, 5-10, 180, Tacoma (Wash.) Clover Park, who verbally committed to UCLA in June, continues to flirt with the idea of taking official visits to other schools, namely Notre Dame, and Washington, and is now also mentioning the possibility of visiting Nebraska. If Sampson does choose to visit other schools, UCLA's policy is to consider him "un-committed."
UCLA seems to be losing ground with Rhema McKnight, WR, 6-3, 190, La Palma (Calif.) Kennedy, and Bryan Pickryl, DE, 6-6, 230, Jenks (Okla.) High. McKnight has said recently that he might not trip to UCLA and prefers to leave the area. UCLA was his childhood preference and many close to the situation still believed as recently as a couple of weeks ago that UCLA was still his leader. More than likely you can expect Pickryl to at least take an official visit, since his alum father will almost certainly insist on it.
As has been reported, wide receiver Junior Taylor achieved a qualifying test score on his SAT. He will now have to be cleared by UCLA admissions and the intention is for Taylor to enroll at UCLA for winter quarter and participate in spring practice.
Talking about spring practice, Thomas Bachman, WR, 5-11, 175, 4.45, Shreveport (Louis.) Evangel Christian, is a recruit UCLA recently offered who would be able to graduate earlier than his class and enroll at UCLA in time for spring practice. Bachman had verbally committed to Texas Tech recently, but rescinded the verbal commitment when UCLA offered him a scholarship. Bachman offers many positives for UCLA. For one, Bachman is reportedly supposed to have good speed and moves, and UCLA wide receivers are dropping like flies. Secondly, since Bachman could come in early he wouldn't count against the scholarship limit for the class that will come in for fall of 2002. And thirdly, Bachman is the wide receiver and friend of current Evangel Christian sophomore quarterback John Booty, who could be the best quarterback prospect in the country regardless of class. Booty likes UCLA and UCLA covets Booty. Also, and this isn't to start any rampant rumors, Evangel Christian is also the former high school of Brock Berlin, the Florida quarterback that is considering transferring. As many Evangel Christian connections UCLA can get won't hurt.
Another report indicated that Hershel Dennis, the talented running back from Long Beach Poly, also is considering graduating early and enrolling at the college of his choice in time for spring practice. This has yet to be confirmed, but has been heard from a couple of different sources at Long Beach Poly.
UCLA is also recruiting a few select JUCO players who would also come in for spring. UCLA doesn't usually like to go the JUCO route, mainly because of academic concerns, but this year there are few JUCO prospects that are solid academically that UCLA is recruiting. Ryan Boschetti, DL, 6-4, 280, San Mateo JC, is considered one of the best all-around JUCO players in the country and recently ranked the #2 JC player in the nation by JCFootball.com. UCLA is pursuing Boschetti, and the word is that Boschetti has UCLA listed among his favorites. Also, the #14 JUCO player in the nation, Monte Parson, DL, 6-3, 270, Los Angeles Harbor JC, was spotted on UCLA's campus Monday taking an unofficial visit. Parson is an ex-Marine and older than the typical JC sophomore. Reportedly, UCLA is his favorite as of now. Both Boschetti and Parson are in good academic standing, which gives UCLA the opportunity to recruit them. You can probably expect both to take official visits to UCLA in December.
UCLA is also recruiting a couple of offensive linemen that are still somewhat sleepers. One is from the Los Angeles area, the other from out-of-state. According to separate sources close to each situation, UCLA is doing well with both prospects.