2006 Football Recruiting Class

With National-Letter-of-Intent Day over, here's a look at the 2006 football recruiting class, which was heavy on the offensive and defensive lines.

UCLA's recruiting class of 2006, the strongest and deepest one Karl Dorrell has brought in among his four class, was one in which may have been low on skill position players, but filled needs where the Bruins needed it most, in the trenches.

In all, 22 players mark this recruiting class, 21 high school seniors and junior college transfer.

Several players have the ability to play on either side of the ball, but we're listing them with the position we think that they will most likely start out at.

OFFENSE:
UCLA didn't bring in a quarterback in this class, and has only three quarterbacks on scholarship, Ben Olson, Patrick Cowan and Osaar Rasshan. Expect them to bring in at least one, possibly two quarterbacks in the class of 2007. They also didn't sign a tight end, a year after signing three. They will also bring in at least one and possibly two in the next class.

RUNNING BACK:
Though they missed out on Mossis Madu, Toby Gerhart and Tracy Slocum down the stretch, UCLA signed a pair of running backs in this class.

Chane Moline, Mission Viejo. Moline will join his two older brothers, linebacker Chad and defensive tackle Chase in Westwood next fall. Dorrell has called him a running back like Manuel White, one who should be the short-yardage power back and goalline ball carrier. Moline completed an excellent prep career at Mission Viejo and is a likely backup to Michael Pitre as a fullback, while also getting a chance to carry the ball as a tailback on occasion.

Christian Ramirez, Imperial. Ramirez committed to UCLA very early in the process and didn't attend any camps or combines. Still, his film and season showed that he has the size and speed to be an effective running back in college. Ramirez could also play safety or linebacker, but is hoping to get first crack in the offensive backfield for the Bruins. Still young for his class, Ramirez is a legit 6-2, 200 and is still growing.

Jeremy McGee, Karr. McGee is another unknown because he played in Louisiana this past year. He was affected by the hurricane that hit New Orleans and played in Baton Rouge. Still, he put up over 900 yards in a limited running back role, also playing quarterback and receiver. McGee will get a chance to run the ball for UCLA, but his biggest contribution should come in the return game, where he excelled as a prep.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
UCLA landed a big-time receiver in this class, something that they have struggled with in the past few years. They complemented that receiver with a big, rangy type. Dominique Johnson, Valley View. The big receiver in this class Johnson has good hands and size. Also a basketball player, Johnson has good athleticism and should see time in the receiver rotation early in his career, though it wouldn't be a surprise if he redshirted in 2006.

Terrence Austin, Long Beach Poly. The headline of the Bruins offensive class, Austin was UCLA's main offensive target and became the first recruit to announce for UCLA at the U.S. Army All-American game. One of the best route-runners in the country, Austin is the speed guy that UCLA has lacked at receiver. He's most dangerous coming off the line of scrimmage, and the first 15-yards are his forte. He has good hands, but its his preciseness that has earned him praise.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
One of the top offensive line classes in the country, UCLA inked six players up front and two other defensive lineman who also could play on the offensive side of the ball. Its likely that one or two recruits could come in and play as true freshman, though the hope is that only JC transfer Ekbatani has to play right away.

Brandon Bennett, Bishop Amat. Bennett has good size, but could stand to lose some more of the baby fat. He's likely to play guard in college because of his width. Bennett is the most likely to redshirt as he will probably need a year to get into good shape.

Jake Dean, Paraclete. Maybe the most ready of the high school lineman to sign. Dean could probably play anywhere on the offensive line, but his future is in the interior, with center being the position he will likely end up at. The top lineman in California in 2006, Dean plays with a mean streak and has excellent athleticism for his size.

Micah Kia, Mililani. Kia was the last of the offensive lineman to commit to UCLA, and was ranked as the No. 2 lineman in the West in this class, behind only Steve Schilling. Kia is a prototypical offensive tackle and if he shows that he is fully recovered from a leg injury that cost him much of his senior season, could be a candidate to play as a true freshman.

Nick Ekbatani, L.A. Harbor. Ekbatani picked the Bruins over Miami in December, and enrolled at UCLA in January, where he is already participating in the offseason weight program. Ekbatani is a strong candidate to replace Ed Blanton as the starting weakside tackle, though with a new offensive line coach, it remains to be seen if they stay with weakside/strongside or go with traditional left/right tackles. Regardless, Ekbatani put on a lot of weight between his senior year in high school and freshman year at Harbor.

Sean Sheller, Walnut. Sheller looked very good at the spring combines and camps, and was just behind Dean in the California line rankings. Played left tackle for Walnut and likely projects to tackle in college as well because he has good footwork. Will probably redshirt in 2006 to put on more weight.

Sonny Tevaga, Dominguez. Like Bennett, Tevaga has good size and has already lost some weight that he gained when sitting out his junior season because of a transfer. When he played this year, his massive frame had an easy time against defensive lineman. He will probably play guard in college, possibly opposite his brother Shannon, who played as a true freshman.

DEFENSE:
UCLA had their best defensive line class since 1998, signing four ends and three tackles. They also added a defensive back who could play receiver. The glaring omission comes at linebacker, where they missed out on their top target and couldn't recruit several more because of academics. The lone linebacker they signed will be a converted defensive end. DEFENSIVE ENDS:
Each of the four defensive ends UCLA signed has a chance to play as true freshman, though they likely will try to redshirt at least two of them.

David Carter, Kaiser. The last of UCLA's defensive linemen to commit, Carter had a strong senior year after flying under the radar leading up to it. A big and strong end, Carter has good size and a first step that will help him get on the field.

Dylan Rush, Konawaena. When Rush committed to UCLA, he was coming in as a tight end. But that changed following a senior year where he was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Hawaii as a defensive end. Rush is also an excellent wrestler and does judo, which should play into new defensive line coach Todd Howard's strategy of defensive lineman using martial arts for hand quickness.

Jeff Miller, Westlake. Miller is arguably the best defensive end that UCLA signed and when healthy as a senior, was a force for Westlake. He missed much of the year because of a stress fracture but excelled during CaliFlorida practice. Miller is the most likely to play as a freshman, though he could serve to get a little bigger.

Reginald Stokes, Carver. When Stokes committed to UCLA back in July, he was somewhat of an unknown, but his senior year he really burst onto the national scene. UCLA had to stave off some late pressure from the Southern schools, but Stokes, who is the quickest off the line of the four commits, stuck with his early verbal and signed with the Bruins.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:
Not since the 1998 class brought in Ken Kocher and Anthony Fletcher has UCLA signed a group of defensive tackles who were close enough to being ready to play as true freshman. Each of the three defensive tackles will get a shot to play in 2006.

Andy Keane, Palm Springs. One of the best two-way lineman in the nation, Keane will most likely start out on the defensive side of the ball. A highly regarded center, Keane is run-stuffing defensive tackle who can get after the quarterback.

Darius Savage, Morse. The best weight-thrower in California, Savage is a mammoth defensive tackle who is tough to move. Like Keane, also played offensive line, but defense is definitely where his future is. He is a load in the middle, and likely would have played a lot in 2005 had he been in college.

Jerzy Siewierski, Reed. One of the more intriguing players UCLA has signed, at 6-3, 300, Siewierski also played running back and punted in high school. He's a big body, but he can move and plays with a nasty streak.

LINEBACKERS:
UCLA missed out on the their top target at this position, and its lone signee will be playing the position for the first time in college.

Tobi Umodu, South Hills. The longest committed player with Dominique Johnson, Umodu had a solid season as a defensive end for South Hills. He will move to outside linebacker but will likely redshirt in his first year at UCLA.

DEFENSIVE BACKS:
The Bruins had a big haul of defensive backs the past two years, so they didn't focus much on getting anyone for the secondary aside from their lone signee.

Alterraun Verner, Mayfair. Verner is a prime example that what you do on the field can quickly overshadow what you do during the spring and summer combines. Verner had a monster senior season for Mayfair on both sides of the ball, and there is a chance he plays receiver for UCLA instead of cornerback. He will also make an impact on the return game, at either punt or kick returner. Also an excellent student, Verner is the youngest player in this class, having skipped a grade earlier.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Bruins signed two special teamers, and while neither were expected to play in 2005 and one was expected to greyshirt, things and numbers have changed things.

Christian Yount, Tesoro. The first longsnapper UCLA has brought in on scholarship, Yount is still expected to greyshirt, but if a spot remains, he could come in the fall and redshirt while waiting for senior Riley Jondle to graduate. Regardless, it is likely, barring an injury, that Yount won't play until 2007. Kai Forbath, Notre Dame. The top kicker/punter in the nation, Forbath was expected to redshirt in 2006. But with the uncertainty of Justin Medlock's status, Forbath could come in and kick as a freshman. Like his kicking coach Chris Sailer, a former Bruin himself, Forbath could do all three duties if necessary.


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