UCLA, however, got its nail-biting out of the way early this year.
The Bruins are more or less done with recruiting, not waiting on any hold-out recruit that would decide today.
It did lose the commitment of Chris Conte, the defensive back from Los Angeles Loyola, today. Conte had verbally committed to Cal back in summer, but had kept in touch with UCLA. He took an official visit to UCLA in December, and then verbally committed to the Bruins two weeks ago. We're now hearing that Conte ultimately decided to sign with Cal.
There are sources indicated that UCLA could have a last-minute commitment, but it's still considered a longshot.
It was UCLA's biggest worry, as Signing Day drew near: Actually keeping the recruits it had.
Brian Price, the 6-3, 270-pound, five-star defensive tackle from Los Angeles Crenshaw, is probably the headliner of the class. He was recruited heavily by USC up until the near-end, and took an official visit to Arizona State a couple of weekends ago. It might be perhaps UCLA's best recruiting effort this season – the fact that they kept Price on board after he was their first verbal commitment back in spring for the class of 2007.
USC sent a limousine to Crenshaw High School one recent Friday to try to compel Price to take an official visit to USC. He declined. In fact, under NCAA rules, schools can't use limos, but only Lincoln Town Cars. USC is contending it was a Town Car, while observers are swearing it was a limo. Pete Carroll and former UCLA linebacker and now USC linebacker coach, Ken Norton, had an in-home visit with Price a couple of weeks ago that didn't go well – for USC. Apparently, the USC coaches got frustrated with Price's intention to stick with his commitment to UCLA, and questioned the character of a person who would pick UCLA over USC. That angered Price and his mother enough to the point they ended the visit.
Perhaps the biggest worry in regards to Price wasn't USC, but ASU. Price took a visit to Tempe recently, and came back enamored of the Sun Devils. But within a day or so of the visit, he re-confirmed his commitment to UCLA publicly.
And then there's Akeem Ayers, the 6-3, 225-pound defensive end/linebacker from Los Angeles Verbum Dei. USC was also pursuing Ayers. In fact, as the reports go, Carroll and Norton had planned to go to an in-home visit at the Ayers' home right after the Price in-home visit, but a call from Mrs. Price to the Ayers' home nixed that. Ayers also took a visit to Cal, but stuck with his commitment to UCLA.
Keeping Price and Ayers "in the fold," as Head Coach Karl Dorrell would say, was a big accomplishment for the UCLA staff.
Overall, the class was a big step for Dorrell in terms of recruiting. It wasn't a big class – only 11 recruits – so it didn't necessarily get the publicity it might have. But if you look at it in terms of average rankings per recruit, UCLA ranks 7th in the nation. It was significant because UCLA stepped up more into the recruiting big leagues under Dorrell with the 2007 class and got recruits that USC wanted, really for the first time under Dorrell. UCLA rode the momentum of its 10-2 season in 2005 and got commitments last summer from the core of this class, and then held on to that momentum this season with the big win over USC.
The commitments over the summer, besides those from Price and Ayers, were big:
Nate Chandler, the #1 tight end in the west and #7 in the nation.
Raymond Carter, the #2 running back in the west, who didn't get the pub he probably deserved because of a injury-plagued senior year.
Courtney Viney, the #2 corner in the west.
Steve Sloan, one of the top three or so linebackers in the west, and #9 strongside linebacker in the nation.
They then finished off the class by getting the defensive back, Glenn Love from Arizona, a prospect that broke out during his senior year that Cal also coveted.
The Bruins, along the way, got a commitment from offensive line prospect Mike Harris, who had an impressive senior year and was getting offers from the Pac-10. With limited scholarships, and a big OL class in 2005, UCLA had first thought it would offer Harris a grey-shirt (to come in late during the 2007-2008 school year and then his scholarship would count against the 2008 class), but after he officially visited UCLA in December, UCLA decided to bring him in during the fall.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for UCLA in the 2007 class was not getting a receiver. It pursued them, and tried to snag a few in the last couple of months or so, but failed. With UCLA's receiving group having three seniors graduating in 2008, the position will be a huge priority for the class of 2008.
In fact, the 2008 class will be very significant for Dorrell. UCLA currently has 21 scholarships to give to that class, and it's a very talented one in Southern California, and the west. UCLA is doing well early with some of the biggest names in the class. If Dorrell has the type of season in 2007 that many are anticipating (19 returning starters, a favorable schedule), he could parlay all of these factors into a top five national class, which would definitely signify that Dorrell had arrived in recruiting.
We'll have more reports on Signing Day 2007, and we'll report on the National Letters of Intent coming into UCLA during the day.