Recruiting Update: Defense

Even though there are limited scholarships available for the class of 2007, and commitments from a few players already, including elite DT Brian Price, UCLA still has needs at a few defensive positions, namely linebacker, cornerback and safety...

The football recruiting class of 2007 is poised to be one of the smallest classes in some time for UCLA, with only nine scholarships to give as of the early part of fall. A scholarship could become available if sophomore Robert Kibble has to retire from football, but on the other hand, they could lose one if Joe Cowan has to redshirt the 2006 season. There are always rumors and discussion about potentially more scholarships becoming available, and some always do tend to open up by signing day in February.

However, with the new APR, should too many scholarships open up, it could penalize the program, specifically when it comes to scholarships. So it's likely that they will end up in the 10-12 scholarship range.

To date, UCLA has seven commitments, three on offense and four on defense, meaning their class is close to wrapped up.

In this review, we'll try to lay out exactly which players have been offered, who could be offered, and what are UCLA's priorities at each position.

This isn't going to be a comprehensive list of everyone UCLA has shown interest in, but a list that concentrates on those players UCLA has offered and those that could possibly receive an offer.

UCLA has spent more of its offers, and subsequently, their focus, on the defensive side of the ball, as this list and the defensive list will attest.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

UCLA picked up three defensive tackles in the last recruiting class (Jerzy Siewierski, Darius Savage, Andy Keane), so they probably won't bring in more than one in this class. They already have a commitment from one and he just happens to be the best defensive tackle in the west.

Brian Price, 6-3, 270, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. COMMITTED. Price was the first player in the class of 2007 to commit to UCLA, pledging to the Bruins at their Spring Scrimmage. Price had offers from Arizona, California and USC, but chose the Bruins with teammate Raymond Carter. The Defensive Player of the Year in the Coliseum League, Price had an outstanding junior year, recording 117 tackles, including 22 sacks. He is the top defensive tackle in the West this year, and was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio. Despite committing to UCLA, USC has gone after him and he recently attended a home game at the Coliseum. He has constantly said that his commitment to UCLA is solid, but UCLA fans won't be breathing easy until February 7th on this one. Offered

Da'John Harris, 6-4, 250, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Harris had a lot of interest in UCLA early on, but then other schools began to offer him. UCLA did offer him once his transcripts and SAT checked out and they are still somewhat in the mix for his services. As it stands, USC, Michigan and Miami, though, are his leaders and he is thought to be a silent verbal to USC. There is also the possibility that he could end up as a defensive end. Offered

Other Defensive Tackles Of Note:

Nick Wood, 6-2.5, 275, Poway (Calif.).
Mackey Mailo, 6-2, 250, Carson (Calif.)
Porter Hill, 6-4, 280, Compton (Calif.).

DEFENSIVE ENDS:

The Bruins picked up four defensive ends in the class of 2007 (Reginald Stokes, Dylan Rush, David Carter and Jeff Miller), and while they have a commitment from one, Ayers, there is a distinct possibility that he ends up as a linebacker. The only true defensive end they have offered is Griffen.

Akeem Ayers, 6-3, 220, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei. COMMITTED. Ayers is one of the best and most versatile prospects in this class. He has long said that UCLA is his favorite school, but they had yet to offer. That all changed in late June when Ayers took an unofficial visit to Westwood and showed them his most recent transcripts. The Bruins offered him and Ayers said that he wanted to take his time and also was looking closely at Cal. But the allegiances to his childhood favorite were too strong and he committed to UCLA on an unofficial visit in August. In his first extended work at linebacker at the B2G Elite Football Program, he took home "Most Versatile Player" honors. In the season opener, Ayers had 15 tackles and five sacks but then his chances of becoming California's all-time sack leader took a hit when he broke his finger, an injury that required surgery and he's been out since.Offered

Everson Griffen, 6-4, 260, Avondale (Ariz.) Agua Fria. Griffen, the nation's top ranked defensive end, has double-digit offers, and the Bruins have consistently remained in the mix for him. Griffen said that he almost committed to USC after their camp but decided to wait. Still, the Trojans are the leaders for his services. Griffen will be visiting Notre Dame on October 7th, then will visit Oregon in early November. He is scheduled to visit USC when they host Notre Dame and will visit UCLA when they host USC in December. Arizona and Oklahoma are jockeying for one of his last two visits. He has 48 tackles, 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick while rushing for over 300 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns through the first five games. Griffen is a good athlete who also does the shot-put and discus for his track team. Academics could be a question. Offered

Apaiata Tuihalamaka, 6-3, 220, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Like Griffen, Tuihalamaka also plays running back, but his future is on defense, where he likely projects to linebacker. He has numerous offers, but none from the two L.A. schools, who he is looking at closely. Has reportedly said that if UCLA offered him officially, he'd commit, but right now, he's only got a verbal offer from the Bruin staff. That seemed to be a foregone conclusion after his first three games, but he broke his foot in August and has yet to suit up in 2006. Once he comes back, expect UCLA to keep very close tabs on him as they decide whether or not to offer him.

Kenny Rowe, 6-3, 220, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Rowe is the top defensive end in the state, and has a good number of offers, including one from USC, where his brother signed in February. UCLA has him on the radar, and he was at UCLA's Junior Day in March. They haven't offered him yet, but are keeping a close eye on Rowe. In the meantime, Oregon, Cal, USC, Arizona, Nebraska and Ole Miss are leading for his services.

Michael Snead, 6-4, 240, Oakland (Calif.) Skyline. The younger brother of UCLA tight end William Snead, Michael has two offers, from Colorado and San Diego State, but has said he wants to stay in-state. Cal has the hometown edge, though Michael has said the opportunity to play with his brother, if even for only one year, is something he will factor in.

Other Defensive Ends Of Note:

Alex Probasco, 6-4, 245, Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa
Eron Moses, 6-4, 255, Anaheim (Calif.) Esperanza

LINEBACKERS:

A position where UCLA figures to bring in at least two prospects is linebacker. They've gotten a commitment from one in Sloan and they are planning to turn Ayers into a linebacker in college. Another target, Tuihalamaka, plays defensive but could also end up as a linebacker. There are several good prospects that like UCLA, who they're targeting, but waiting to offer until probably after the first month of the season.

Steve Sloan, 6-3, 228, San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty. COMMITTED. Sloan had been waiting for an offer from UCLA all spring. He had said that Cal and UCLA were his two favorites, and that the first to offer between the two was where he was going to commit. But after Cal offered, he held off and waited patiently for the Bruins to offer. UCLA had him down for the 1-Day Camp, talked to him on his way home and offered. The next day, Sloan committed to the Bruins. Sloan is one of the top linebackers in the west and has as much upside as any ‘backer in this class. He broke his hand in the third game of the season, yet continued to play with a cast and finished with nine tackles. He has been one of the elite defensive players in Northern California to date.Offered

Malcolm Smith, 6-2, 215, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Smith, the younger brother of USC receiver Steve Smith, was offered by the Bruin staff in late spring. He is possibly the most versatile player in this class from California. USC and Penn State have been his leaders for some time. Notre Dame and Michigan are expected to receive visits, as will Arizona. Smith has indicated that he may only unofficially visit USC and UCLA. He could also play safety or running back in college, since he moves very well (4.44 forty time). He was injured in Taft's loss to Crenshaw, but as good as he is, the injury won't affect his recruitment. Offered Chris Carter, 6-2, 205, Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser. Carter has ties to UCLA, his brother David currently a true freshman, and the younger brother likes the Bruins. He attended UCLA's Junior Day and they are his favorite, though USC, Arizona and Fresno State are all showing interest and Washington has offered him. UCLA is in a wait-and-see mode with him, as he is definitely a linebacker in college, but he's played exclusively defensive end in high school. Carter is also a candidate to greyshirt at UCLA, despite having several offers from other schools and it will be interesting to see if the chance to play with his brother would be convincing enough for him to greyshirt.

D.J. Holt, 6-2, 240, Encino (Calif.) Crespi. Holt has played defensive end again this fall for Crespi, but he has stated he expects to move to linebacker in college. He is a very talented player on both sides of the ball, and some schools are recruiting him as an athlete. USC is his favorite, but the Trojans have yet to offer him with UCLA also in the mix and is still evaluating him. Cal, Arizona State and Oregon round out his top five and each have offered. Holt is having one of the most resounding impacts on his team in the Southland this fall, a key reason Crespi has been in every game despite playing one of the most difficult schedules in the state.

Robert Mullins, 6-2, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. Mullins is a good student who is a good linebacker prospect. There have been some questions about his size, but he has made plays. He was invited to UCLA's Junior Day and the Bruins are watching him closely. Mullins has maintained UCLA in his top five throughout the spring, and he recently was called by DeWayne Walker. He is still recovering from a hip injury and has yet to play in 2006, which is slowing some of the offers he expected to come following the start of the season.

Other Linebackers Of Note:

Terrell Turner, 6-2, 225, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw.
Austin Stafford, 6-3, 210, Hayward (Calif.)
Joseph Easter, 6-2, 225, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco

CORNERBACKS:

UCLA is thin at cornerback and need corners, so they're recruiting a good number aggressively. They have a commitment from one of the best cover corners in the West, and they've offered four cornerbacks already total, and will probably take at least two.

Courtney Viney, 5-8, 170, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. COMMITTED. What Viney lacks in size he makes up for in instincts and quickness. He was the best cornerback at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in January, and reminds many of former Bruin and Edison great Ricky Manning Jr., in the way he plays. Viney had been going to UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker's camps for several years, and once Walker was hired, it all but sealed the deal for Viney to become a Bruin. Viney has been a difficult matchup for opposing receivers so far this season, having yet to give up a reception and snagging a few interceptions on the young season.Offered

Donovan Warren, 6-0, 185, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Warren is the other top cornerback in the West in this class, and while he maintains that he is open, USC was thought to be the frontrunner for him, but he recently stated, at least publicly, that he was wide open. His top seven schools are USC, Ohio State, UCLA, California, Oregon, Michigan and Arizona State and he has said that if Notre Dame offered, they would immediately jump to the forefront. Warren is arguably the top uncommitted prospect on UCLA's board. Offered

Cedric Everson, 6-0, 175, Detroit (Mich.) Mumford. Everson has nearly 50 official letters, with UCLA being one of them. The Bruins have maintained one of his top two spots along with Georgia Tech. He said he wanted to announce a decision between Georgia Tech and UCLA in August, but the time came and went and he hadn't given a verbal to either school. He was scheduled to visit UCLA unofficially this summer, but because he's also a top-rated track runner, he had to postpone it. There is a chance he could wait to decide between the Bruins and Yellow Jackets after he's taken his official trips to each. Everson could even see action at receiver in college. Offered

Eric Berry, 6-0, 195, Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside. The nation's top-ranked cornerback, Berry has offers from all over, including UCLA, but he hasn't mentioned them much in any reports. Still, they've been in contact. Offered

Ronald Johnson, 6-0, 185, Muskegon (Mich.). The nation's second-ranked cornerback, Johnson has listed UCLA in his top seven and the Bruin staff has verbally offered him. The two in-state schools, though, will be hard to beat and it's thought that if he were to come west, USC would be the more likely destination.

Michael Williams, 5-11, 190, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. A selection to the U.S. Army All-American Game and one of the more dangerous return specialists in the nation, Williams has been mentioning UCLA but it's well known that Notre Dame and Michigan are going toe-to-toe for this SoCal product.

Other Cornerbacks Of Note:

Steve Stepter, 5-9, 170, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw
Larry Parker, 5-11, 165, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine

SAFETIES:

Another position of need for UCLA is safety. They've officially offered two safeties in this class and are keeping a close watch on a few more.

Jordan Bernstine, 5-10, 200, Des Moines (Iowa) Lincoln. Bernstine was the MVP of the Scout Combine in Iowa City and saw his stock shoot through the roof. UCLA is one of a handful of schools who offered him, though it appears that the two home-state schools may, Iowa and Iowa State, may have a leg up. He has already visited Texas A&M officially and he has said that he would like to take a trip to UCLA.Offered

Chris Conte, 6-3, 180, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Conte had an offer from Cal when he showed up at the UCLA camp earlier this summer. After showing well, he went home and added an offer from UCLA to that. He shortly thereafter committed to Cal, but showed up at a few UCLA practices. By all accounts, he is committed to Cal, but because of UCLA's proximity to home, this one could be an interesting recruitment to watch in the coming months. Offered

Shane Horton, 6-2, 195, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame. Thanks to a brilliant performance against Canyon in the season opener, and his clockwork performance at quarterback for the injured Dayne Crist, Horton is showing his athleticism and versatility and his stock is rising rapidly. He was at UCLA's Junior Day in March and finally received his first offer, from Ohio, earlier this summer. He is hearing from several Pac-10 schools though he awaits an offer from one. He is the son of a former UCLA lineman, Myke Horton, who played under Dick Vermeil and has been going to UCLA games his whole life. His younger brother Wes is a potentially elite prospect in the class of 2008 as a defensive lineman.

Todd Doxey, 6-2, 180, San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. Doxey is one of the top safeties in the state, and also plays receiver. He prefers defense, though. Doxey has gotten a handful of offers, but had long held UCLA as his leader, though he is waiting for an offer from the Bruins. Oregon has offered and now the Ducks are his leader, but a UCLA offer could change that dramatically. Hometown San Diego State also has been in the mix for him, though he is likely going to attend a Pac-10 school. He attended UCLA's Junior Day.

Lance Mitchell, 6-1, 180, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir. No defensive back saw their stock rise this spring like Mitchell. He is a flat-out player and could be an elite prospect at either receiver or safety. Definitely looks the part and is only going to get better. Is waiting on an SAT score (he took it in early June). He's had to play quarterback this fall instead of his more natural position of receiver on offense, but has shown tremendous leadership and versatility. UCLA is recruiting him as an athlete. He has a handful of offers, but is hoping for an offer from USC and UCLA.

Cameron Collins, 6-1.5, 195, Santa Monica (Calif.). Collins has UCLA, Stanford and Cal as some of his top schools along with Colorado and Oregon. He has a host of other offers, but he prefers to stay in-state and he is an excellent student, so the three in-state schools fit the strong academic profile he is looking for. Stanford, in fact, has already offered him. He also plays receiver for Santa Monica, but says he will play safety in college.

Anthony Wright, 6-0, 190, Compton (Calif.). Wright has several offers, but none from the two local schools, which he is hoping changes this fall. He has played running back for Compton, but feels like safety is where he is best suited. Has been a key cog in the Tarbabes unbeaten start and was a major factor in their demolishing of Verbum Dei.

Other Safeties Of Note:

Derek Knight, 6-0, 190, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance.
Logan Ketchum, 6-3, 195, Oak Park (Calif.).
Aaron Bagsby, 6-1, 178, Pottstown (Penn.) The Hill School

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Christian Yount, the longsnapper who was part of the 2006 class and is currently enrolled at UCLA, will officially become a part of the team and a scholarship athlete in winter quarter. With so few scholarships available in the program, it's arguable whether giving one to a longsnapper is putting it to its best use. But UCLA will need a long snapper since current LS Riley Jondle is a senior. UCLA has one of the best kickers in the nation from a year ago, Kai Forbath, redshirting, waiting to take over from senior Justin Medlock, and current punter Aaron Perez is just a sophomore, so UCLA won't need to give out a ride in the 2007 class to a kicker or punter.


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