FB Recruiting Reset: Defense

UCLA has secured nine verbals on Defense, five in the secondary, two at linebacker and two at defensive end, but they're still looking to fill a few more spots, including at defensive tackle and linebacker...

After signing an unusually small class in February, UCLA is back with a normal size target of recruits to sign.

As of now, there are at least 23 scholarships to give, but they are recruiting and likely aiming to offer and sign a full slate of 25 recruits. To date, UCLA has 14 commitments, five on offense and nine on defense. There are some positions where they're most likely done recruiting at (receiver, the secondary) and others where they are still trying to fill significant spots (offensive line).

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.

A year ago, UCLA signed the premier defensive tackle in the West, Brian Price from Crenshaw in Los Angeles, and before that, signed a handful of potential impact tackles in Jerzy Siewierski and Darius Savage. This year, the West is relatively down for tackles, with Noble and Casey being the best in California and Johnson the top overall (and he can also play defensive end). In fact, the lone offer to a defensive tackle goes to a Mississippi native in Hardy. Still, there a couple of players that UCLA could try and bring in from the West.

Templeton Hardy, 6-4, 242, Sardis (Miss.) North Panola. Hardy is the lone tackle in the class of 2008 that UCLA has offered, and he's got an extensive offer sheet which includes a mixture of SEC and Big 12 schools Hardy has indicated that UCLA is one of his top seven schools and that they may get a trip, but with an LSU and Alabama offer, it may be tough for him to leave SEC country. Offered

Craig Noble, 6-5, 295, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Few players have seen their stock rise as dramatically as Noble. Known more for his ability to play offensive tackle (which he did opposite Oregon-bound Darrion Weems a year ago), Noble has had a strong spring, being one of the standouts at the L.A. Scout.com Combine. Just a few days before that, he committed to Washington, choosing the Huskies over an offer from Ole Miss. But with his increased attention has come interest from USC and UCLA and though he remains a commit to Washington, he told BRO last week that he's looking at other schools and that he considers himself a soft verbal. With good showings at USC and UCLA's camps this spring/summer, Noble could get the offers from the Los Angeles schools that he covets, though he admitted he has some work to do academically.

Ethan Johnson, 6-4.5, 265, Portland (Ore.) Lincoln. Johnson has been called the best player to come out of Oregon in years, and is more touted than last season's U.S. Army All-American Myles Wade. Johnson has numerous offers from all over the country and has his pick of the litter but he indicated early on that the Bruins were a school that he had serious interest in. With more schools getting in the mix, its uncertain if that interest remains high, or at all, but UCLA is keeping tabs on him.

Jurrell Casey, 6-2, 282, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Casey has offers from Ole Miss and USC, and said that he will likely verbal to USC for good this summer. That probably will happen, eliminating UCLA from consideration, but if USC gets other higher-profile tackles, that could open up Casey's recruitment. Oregon is another school that is going to be in the race for Casey, his older brother having been recruited by the Ducks a few years back. Casey, though, has a self-reported 2.1 GPA, which could be a cause for concern for UCLA.

Ottis Jones, 6-3, 260, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger. Jones played on the offensive line primarily for Leuzinger last year but also had over 30 tackles in limited time at tackle. He's had a good spring but with a good fall could really see his stock rise. Colorado became the first school to offer him earlier this week. He has said that if UCLA offered him, he'd commit on the spot and he was a frequent guest at UCLA's spring practice. The Bruins already have a verbal from his teammate Kaveinga.

Other Defensive Tackles Of Note:

Solomon Koehler, 6-2.5, 315, Castle (Hawaii)
Chris Palmer, 6-2, 292, Philadelphia (Penn.) St. John Neumann.

A year after signing two defensive ends from Verbum Dei in Los Angeles, Justin Edison and Akeem Ayers (who will start out at linebacker), and two years after signing four of them, the Bruins have continued to stockpile at the position. With Holmes and Jones, though, the Bruins have commitments from two of the three best ends in the state, and both are National 100 members. They will watch a few more defensive ends, especially if one can become a tackle down the line, but they may also be content to call it a day with ends, especially if Jones continues to show his verbal is solid.

Damien Holmes, 6-3, 245, Colton (Calif.) COMMITTED. Holmes is the top defensive end in the state and is one of the toughest football players you'll find in this class. An all-CIF pick at both tight end and defensive end last year, Holmes was an all-state underclass pick and along with Moore, is one of the key players in this class. Holmes was named Defensive MVP of the L.A. Scout Combine this year. He's also an excellent student, holding a 3.7 GPA and the academics of UCLA, not to mention his relationship with DeWayne Walker and Todd Howard, played a big role in his decision to commit early, over other strong offers, including Oklahoma and Nebraska.Offered

Datone Jones, 6-4, 240, Compton (Calif.) COMMITTED. Last year, UCLA had to hold their breath the whole recruiting season with Brian Price, who was pursued heavily by USC and Arizona State among others, despite giving an early verbal. Jones has offers from all over the country, including USC and Notre Dame. The commitment they received from Jones was a surprise, especially given that it came just days after he was offered by USC. And while Jones has said he may take some visits, he said he also was solid to UCLA. Jones, in fact, shadowed Price just about all spring, taking in nearly every UCLA spring practice, and seemed to be comfortable with Howard and the defensive lineman. Still, he will be a guy that UCLA will need to keep recruiting to keep his commitment. Offered

Jamaar Jarrett, 6-5, 240, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills. Jarrett has been a known product since his sophomore year, and he has a handful of Pac-10 offers and some other national ones. USC has told him that if he performs well at their lineman camp, they could offer, and Jarrett very well could take that offer. With Holmes and Jones, UCLA doesn't necessarily need another end, but Jarrett is a very good prospect and he also may camp at UCLA, where a good performance could be too much for UCLA to ignore and result in an offer for him.

Other Defensive Ends Of Note:

Cameron Meredith, 6-4.5, 222, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Malik Jackson, 6-4.5, 212, Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham
Marquis Jackson, 6-4, 222, Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham
Courtney Campbell, 6-4, 250, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax
Chancey Aghayere, 6-3, 220, Garland (Texas)

UCLA already has verbals from two middle linebackers, though Kaveinga has the versatility to play on the outside, and they've offered another in Carter who could also play on the outside. They've also offered the top player in the class of 2009 nationally in Brown, who's the defensive version of Darrell Scott: offers from everybody in the country.

Uona Kaveinga, 6-1, 235, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger. COMMITTED Kaveinga verballed to UCLA back in March, but he also took in a couple of USC spring practices, causing some concern to Bruin fans. He also has indicated that he's open to BYU, being his church school. But his coach told us last week that Kaveinga is solidly a Bruin and in fact, plans to graduate early so he can come in and work in spring practice next year. Kaveinga is the most likely candidate to play on the outside of the two commits. Offered

Patrick Larimore, 6-2, 235, Newhall (Calif.) Hart. COMMITTED. Larimore committed to the Bruins the afternoon of the Scout Combine, where he was one of the best linebackers there, which came on the heels of a strong showing at the Nike Camp in L.A. Larimore has been a UCLA fan for years, and his commitment came just five days after he was offered by UCLA. One of the best run-stuffing linebackers in the West, Larimore is a blue-collar lunch pail type who is an excellent tackler and moves very well laterally. Larimore is also an excellent student.Offered

Arthur Brown, 6-2, 225, Wichita (Kan.) East. UCLA doesn't recruit the state of Kansas that often, and the state doesn't normally crank out the talent to make the Bruins head out there, but Brown isn't just the best linebacker in the country, he's the best player in the nation, ranked by Scout.com as the #1 recruit in the class of 2009. Brown's offer sheet is a veritable Who's Who of college powerhouses and though he's reportedly a heavy lean to Oklahoma, he's keeping his options open. UCLA has already been by the campus a couple of times, showing their interest in him and he was the first linebacker UCLA offered. Brown also has a younger brother who's expected to be an elite recruit in the class of 2009 and they've indicated a desire to play together in college. With Brown being the focus of so many teams, UCLA will have their work cut out for them. Offered

Donovan Carter, 6-2, 222, Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham. UCLA offered Carter a week ago, and it made a big impact on him, moving them to the front of his recruitment. Carter is the best linebacker in the City Section and had very impressive numbers as a junior, helping the Patriots to the City title (over 130 tackles). More schools will likely offer Carter, but the Bruins have the edge thanks to offering him and he also took in a handful of UCLA's spring practices. Carter plays in the middle for Birmingham but he can play on the outside and in fact, may be best suited for strongside in college. Offered

Kurt Mangum, 6-0, 225, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha. If Noble has upped his stock dramatically this spring, Mangum is also in the same discussion, using top linebacker honors at the Scout Combine to earning high praise at the Purdue Nike Camp and the UCLA Adidas Camp. Mangum played out of position last year for the good of the team, playing on the defensive line for Hamilton, but after making a permanent residence in Chandler (he moved their prior to the season from Michigan), he's now in Basha's district and will play linebacker there in 2007. He has shown the ability to play linebacker in camps and he can also play fullback. Mangum ran a 4.59 forty at the Scout Combine after he planned on skipping the forty to rest a groin injury. Mangum is also a very good student and he will be one to wacth.

Other Linebackers Of Note:

Jon Major, 6-4, 225, Ponderosa (Colo.) Offered
Dewitt Stuckey, 6-0, 225, Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln
Brandon Magee, 6-0, 225, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
Jerrell Harris, 6-3.5, 208, Gadsden City (Ala.)

The Bruins have commitments from two corners already and Moore could even play at this spot in college. They've only offered one other corner, Brewer, and they could still offer Golden by summer.

Anthony Dye, 5-11, 180, Corona (Calif.) Santiago. COMMITTED. Dye was the first prospect in the class of 2008 to commit to the Bruins, and his verbal triggered a wild week in which the Bruins ended it with 11 commitments. Dye was also the least known of any of them, and in fact, wasn't even on our initial recruiting list. But after a spring in which he earned defensive backs MVP at the L.A. Nike Camp and all-combine honors at the L.A. Scout Combine, he became a household name. There was seldom any question about his ability to cover, the main concern coming with his speed. So he promptly went out and ran a 4.38 forty at the Scout Combine to quiet that. Dye could turn out to be the true gem in this class and he was seen almost regularly at spring practice.Offered

Aaron Hester, 6-0, 165, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. COMMITTED. Hester played his sophomore year at Long Beach Poly, and primarily played receiver behind Terrance Austin and Travon Patterson. Transferring to Dominguez for his junior year, he had an excellent season and helped the Dons to their second straight CIF title. Hester is reportedly getting heavy interest from several other Pac-10 programs and though he hasn't participated in many combines or camps this spring (he's part of Dominguez's vaunted track program), all indications are that he's solid to UCLA. He's very close friends with UCLA corner Alterraun Verner, in fact, being coached by Verner's father Robert in Pop Warner. Offered

Xavier Brewer, 5-10.5, 165, Bartram Trail (Fla.) Brewer is the only other cornerback that UCLA has offered and while he's got offers from several powerhouse programs in the SEC and the ACC, UCLA is one school he's mentioned outside of that region. He's indicated the possibility that he'll take a visit out to Westwood this fall. Offered

Robert Golden, 5-10, 181, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. Golden committed to Arizona in May, a huge coup for the Wildcats, but UCLA is still recruiting him and could offer him. While the chances are minimal that he'll renege on his verbal, he is best friends with Courtney Viney, his position coach Tony Perry and DeWayne Walker are close friends and UCLA has had a strong pipeline at Edison in the past. If UCLA offers him, they could at least get an official visit from him. He was at UCLA's Junior Day and a couple of spring practices too and you can bet a UCLA offer would put Viney in his ear even more.

Other Cornerbacks Of Note:

Delano Howell, 5-11, 180, Newhall (Calif.) Hart
Cedric Moore, 5-11, 190, Lakewood (Calif.)
Quinn Evans, 5-9, 170, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha

The Bruins signed one safety last year, losing another on Signing Day, but they have a verbal from the top two safeties on the West Coast, and another commitment from an athlete at the position. They are likely done at safety for this class, and they will be plenty content to bring in two elite prospects at the position.

Rahim Moore, 6-2, 190, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. COMMITTED. Moore is at this point, the crown jewel in UCLA's recruiting class. In fact, he was the first player in the class of 2008 to get an offer from the Bruins, picking one up last October. Moore is the best safety in the West, and is the #2 safety nationally by Scout.com. He has offers from all over the country, USC, Michigan, Georgia, Auburn and Florida to name a few and he's been making a name for himself since he was a sophomore, standing out on a loaded Dons defense. Moore said he may take some trips, but he's said over and over he's going to be a Bruin. Moore could also play corner in college, with his size and speed. Offered

E.J. Woods, 6-1, 205, Encino (Calif.) Crespi. COMMITTED. Woods is right behind Moore for top safety in the West and he's versatile too, able to possibly play corner or even running back, though he says he will play safety. Woods committed to UCLA in March, backed off to make sure his academics were in order, then jumped back in fully and he said he too may take some trips, but that he just wants to see the country, and he will still be a Bruin. Woods has been offered by Michigan and Oregon since his commitment. Offered

Johnathan Franklin, 5-11, 195, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. COMMITTED. Franklin is an intriguing prospect because of his speed. He's played it all for Dorsey: running back, receiver, linebacker, safety and even defensive end. He may play defensive end again this fall, though linebacker is his likely spot, but he will play safety in college. An excellent student, Franklin may have the most upside of any player in this class. Offered

Other Safeties Of Note:

Corbin Brown, 6-0, 170, Las Vegas (Nev.) Spring Valley
Brandon Leslie, 6-0, 195, Fresno (Calif.) Edison

Kai Forbath will be a redshirt freshman this fall, so kicker isn't a need and Christian Yount will take over for four-year starter Riley Jondle at longsnapper, so there is no need there. Punter, though, could be a place that UCLA looks to fill a spot, with Aaron Perez being a junior. That would allow whoever they sign to redshirt when Perez is a senior, and be able to punt in 2009. UCLA offered Locke in mid-May.

Jeffrey Locke, 6-1, 185, Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. Locke was offered by John Wristen following his showing at the Sailer Kicking Event in Las Vegas.  Sailer, the former Bruin punter/kicker, has Locke rated as the #3 kicker and #3 punter nationally, and says he is the best K/P combo in the nation. Offered

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