Football Recruiting Analysis -- Defense

With so many commitments and few scholarships left to give, we look at UCLA's needs by position on defense and the recruits that could fill those needs...

As we laid out in the first part of this analysis (Football Recruiting Analysis -- Offense), UCLA currently has a total of 20 scholarships to give to the 2005 class. It was 21 but sophomore long snapper Riley Jondle was granted one this season.

Since Tuesday, though, UCLA's verbal commitment count has gone up to 16, which doesn't give UCLA a lot of scholarships to work with between now and signing day in February.  

But, as always, scholarships tend to open up. You very well could still expect UCLA to gain more scholarships for this class easily by next fall, possibly even three to four more. So, UCLA very well could be planning to have more than 20 scholarships available, and recruiting accordingly.

So, here's a look at UCLA's recruiting needs on defense, by position, and the most likely prospects to fill those needs.

Defensive End - Commitments 1, Scholarships Earmarked 2

UCLA got a commitment at defensive end from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw's Chinonso Anyanwu, who wasn't highly recruited, possibly because he weighs about 210 pounds.  Anyanwu is probably in the mold of current UCLA defensive end, William Snead, with possibly even a little more athleticism and quickness. Like Snead, he could also possibly be a linebacker (where Snead started out at UCLA). 

UCLA has a good number of bodies at defensive end over the next couple of years, but could really use a big impact type of player.

Raymond Henderson, the defensive end from Wisconsin who officially visited during USC weekend, is that type of guy.  He, though, is said to be leaning to Iowa and Tennessee, despite having a very good visit to UCLA.

The other possibility for a big impact guy would be JC defensive end Justin Tomerlin, the 6-6, 260-pounder originally from San Clemente High that committed to Florida State out of high school but didn't qualify. The word is that he'd like to stay closer to home now. It would be a matter of whether his academics have improved at El Dorado (Kans.) Butler County JC.

UCLA has offered Clinton Snyder, the 6-3, 210-pounder from Spring Valley (Calif.) Monte Vista, another who could possibly end up at linebacker, depending on how his body goes. Snyder had Stanford as his clear leader until they fired Buddy Teevens. The Cardinal could still end up with him, but he'll trip to UCLA.

Other possibilities are Daniel Agaiva, the 6-3, 240-pounder from Lynwood (Calif.) High, the brother of defensive line prospect, Nathaniel; and Tony DiMartinis, 6-4, 230, from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame.

UCLA, though, if they don't get Henderson, Tomerlin or Snyder, could stand pat at defensive end with just Anyanwu.

Defensive Tackle --  Commitments 1, Scholarships Earmarked 2

Jess Ward, the 6-4, 260-pounder from Lake Arrowhead (Calif.) Rim of the World, has been committed to UCLA since last summer. He was fairly unknown at the time, but others such as USC and Cal had recruited him during his season.  He came to a number of UCLA games and looked like a good-sized kid, one that could easily put on more bulk.

The elite defensive tackle from Killeen (Tex.) Shoemaker, Roy Miller (6-2, 295) will visit UCLA officially this weekend. The Bruins are considered a longshot, with Texas the clear leader.

As we reported this week, JC defensive tackle Ola Dagunduro (6-3, 295) is a distinct possibility. It will depend completely on whether he gets past UCLA's academic committee, which is currently reviewing his academics.  Dagunduro has three years to play two, but is probably good enough to come in and be the third DT behind Kevin Brown and C.J. Niusulu next year.

Another possibility is Nathaniel Agaiava (6-4, 280) , the brother of defensive end Daniel.  Chase Moline, the 6-2, 250-pounder from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High is another. Moline, who is undersized for a lineman, is supposed to make up for his size with talent and athleticism. Some close to the Mission Viejo program say he is really the best linemen on their team (one that has linemen committed to other big programs).  Jonathan Soto (6-4, 250), from La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat, might be another option.

Also potential defensive tackles are a few guys we mentioned on the offensive list, Andrew Ramer, Mike Aguayo and even possibly Erik Lorig.  They all could end up as defensive tackles once they get into college weight rooms.

Linebacker  -- Commitments 3, Scholarships Eamarked 4

UCLA has commitments from three linebackers already, but could even take more than four linebackers total, if a couple more elite ones wanted to jump in the boat, with UCLA being pretty desperate to replenish its linebacking unit.

The scouting report on the three committed players -- Reggie Carter, Korey Miller and Kyle Miller -- is that Carter might have the best chance to come in and have an impact. He didn't have a lot of pub after his junior year, but impressed many scouts with his senior performance. The Millers have good quickness but could take some time to develop physically. 

The big get would be Ryan Reynolds, the elite linebacker from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, who visited officially USC weekend.  He has always liked UCLA growing up, but then was sold on Oklahoma for most of his recruitment, until recently when UCLA kept dilligently recruiting him. The official visit gave the Bruins a real shot.  He'll watch UCLA practice for the Las Vegas Bowl next week and probably decide during the Army All-Star Game in January. UCLA is said to have a good chance, able to sell immediate playing time and a nice environment in Westwood over Oklahoma.

Adrian McCovey (6-3, 215) from Lakewood would be the other clear-cut elite prospect. In an update on him that BRO did today, he said UCLA is behind out-of-state programs he's considering, but if he decided to stay close to home he'd go to UCLA. So, it's a longshot.

Other possibilities are: Jacque Jackson, 6-0, 210, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis; Brandon Allen, 6-3, 210, Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair; Soane Fotofili, 5-11, 230, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant; E.J. Savannah, 6-1, 200, Bellevue (Wash.) High; Solomon Elimimian, 6-1, 220, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw; Alain Karatepeyan, 6-2, 230, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce College; Jason Brown, 6-1, 215, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, and Mike Montero, 6-2, 200, Fresno (Calif.) Buchanan. 

There is also the possibility that UCLA could fill its quota on inebackers from other positions.  Safety Brett Johnson, who is visiting UCLA this weekend, could end up a linebacker.  As stated above, committed defensive lineman Chinonso Anyanwu or DE prospect Clinton Snyder could end up at linebacker. Other possibilities are commtted athletes Gavin Ketchum and Ryan Moya. 

Cornerback  --  Commitments 1,  Scholarships Earmarked 2?

In the defensive backfield, UCLA probably has the most need at cornerback. After next season, UCLA will have just Trey Brown, Rodney Van, Jebiaus Brown, Byron Velega and Michael Norris on the team among those currently on the roster.  It's believed that Brown might not be a big contributor, though, and that Norris could end up just a special teams guy, so UCLA needs some talent here.

It does have a commitment from Aaron Ware, and he's projected primarily as a cornerback. He could, though, end up elsewhere, possibily at running back or safety.

UCLA has a commitment from Robert Kibble also. Kibble plays safety for his high school team, but his size is more suited for cornerback in college. It's just a matter if his skills translate to the position.

With this much uncertainty, it's why UCLA wants another cornerback. Coming in this weekend on an official visit is Denver (Col.) Mullen's Grant Crunkleton (5-10, 170). UCLA has offered Crunkleton, who is considered a true cover corner.  They tripped in another prospect from Colorado during USC weekend, Shaun Dewitty, who might project as a safety, or even a running back. The other player UCLA clearly has offered is Cary Harris, the elite prospect from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, who they're not doing well with at this time.  Robert Peele, 5-11, 180, Fresno (Calif.) Edison, who is close with former Edison- and current-UCLA player, Brandon Breazell, is another. Other possibilities could be Devin Joseph, the 6-2, 195-pound prospect from a familiar school, River Ridge (La.)  John Curtis Christian, who UCLA has gone to see play; and Dwight Tardy, the running back/defensive back from Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) St. Paul. If the academics of Los Angeles Crenshaw cornerback Gardner McKay were in order, UCLA would have offered him, he probably would have accepted, and cornerback recruiting would be over.

Safety - Commitment 2,  Scholarships Earmarked 2?

UCLA has a commitment from one elite prospect in Shawn Oatis.  As stated above, Kibble could play corner, so UCLA is still looking among safety prospects.

Shaun Dewitty, who took his official visit to UCLA, is someone UCLA has offered. As we said, while he could be a running back or a cornerback, many feel he projects as a safety. He probably won't make a decision for a while, though.  UCLA has offered Sean Smalls (6-1, 180) from Virginia, but UCLA looks to be a longshot.  Will Harris looks to be firm in his commitment to USC; he was supposed to visit UCLA this weekend, but won't.

Bret Lockett from Diamond Bar (Calif.) High could very well be UCLA's most distinct possibility, and it would be a good thing. Lockett, at 6-2 and 190, is a great, versatile athlete, with very good speed and agility. He could very well end up a receiver, and has the quickness possibly to play corner.  He's visiting UCLA officially this weekend and if they offer, it could get done.

Brett Johnson is also visiting this weekend.  He's another versatile athlete who, at 6-2 and 200, could end up at linebacker or safety. 

Jared Edwards, another prospect from Lousiana (Metaire Arch Bishop Rummel) is another possibility, as well as Michael Samples, 6-1, 190, Long Beach (Calif.) Cabrillo. UCLA is also keeping warm Trason Bragg, the running back/defensive back from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. He visited UCLA practice Wednesday.

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