Recruiting Re-Set: Defense

With the spring evaluation period over, and commitments coming at a good rate, here's a re-setting of UCLA's football recruiting. The Bruins have four scholarships left, but look determined to get them filled quickly. Here's a look at the prospects for the 2008 class on the defensive side of the ball...

With the spring evaluation period now over, we definitely have a better feel for UCLA's top recruiting targets.

After signing an unusually small class in February, UCLA now has a large number of recruits to sign for 2008.

As of now, there are 25 scholarships to give, which is the NCAA limit for a given year, and it appears that UCLA intends to give out all 25.

To date, UCLA has 21 commitments, 11 on offense and 10 on defense. There are some positions where, if they don't get an elite prospect they want, they could hold pat with the commitments they have, and other positions where they still might need two (tight end).

In this review, we'll try to lay out exactly which players have been offered scholarships 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.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

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 Armstead and Noble being the best in California. UCLA could use as much time as necessary to decide whether they'll offer a tackle.

Armond Armstead, 6-5, 290, Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove. A strong showing at the Nike Camp catapulted Armstead from a mid-major recruit to one who started collecting BCS offers. Armstead has been mentioning UCLA as a school he has had interest in and then he came to the UCLA camp in June and was one of the best performers there. His goal when coming to the camp was to show he could play defensive tackle, as he told us the Bruin staff initially liked him as an offensive lineman. He's most definitely on UCLA's radar now as a defensive lineman.

Craig Noble, 6-5, 295, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. 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 though he remains a commit to Washington. Noble had said he was going to camp at UCLA, but was a no-show. Academics could be an issue in UCLA recruiting him.

Willie Mobley, 6-2, 263, Eden Prairie (Minn). UCLA doesn't normally recruit in the state of Minnesota, but Mobley has shown serious interest in UCLA, despite not having an offer from the Bruins. He's consistently listed them in his top seven and has shown an affinity for the West Coast, coming to the L.A. Nike Camp a year ago. The four-star prospect will camp at UCLA next week, in hopes of getting that offer, but academically, he has some work to do.

Ottis Jones, 6-2, 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 and Iowa State followed. 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 and also camped there in June. The Bruins already have a verbal from his teammate Kaveinga. With Jones, it may be a case of seeing him his first few games in the fall before UCLA gets serious about offering him.

Other Defensive Tackles Of Note:

Solomon Koehler, 6-2.5, 315, Castle (Hawaii)
Jurrell Casey, 6-2, 282, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Kebin Umodu, 6-2, 245, Covina (Calif.) South Hills
Greg Grimes, 6-1, 285, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum
Chris Palmer, 6-2, 292, Philadelphia (Penn.) St. John Neumann.

DEFENSIVE ENDS:

A year after signing two defensive ends, 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 four-star prospects, Holmes being a Top 100 prospect. 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 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 from 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 UCLA 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 linemen. Still, he will be a guy that UCLA will need to keep recruiting to keep his commitment. Offered

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 still recruiting him. Offered

Templeton Hardy, 6-4, 242, Sardis (Miss.) North Panola. Hardy's got an extensive offer sheet that includes a mixture of SEC and Big 12 schools Hardy had indicated that UCLA was one of his top seven schools and that they may get a trip, but with LSU and Alabama offers, and USC having offered most recently, the Bruins will have their work cut out for them. 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 next week, 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)

LINEBACKERS:

UCLA already has verbals from three middle linebackers, though Kaveinga has the versatility to play on the outside, and Carter could also play on the outside. They've also offered the top player in the class of 2008 nationally in Brown, who's the defensive version of Darrell Scott: offers from everybody in the country.

Uona Kaveinga, 6-0, 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 Kaveinga told us at the Nike Camp that he is solidly a Bruin and, in fact, plans to graduate early so he can come in and work in spring practice next year. He does have a couple of official visits set up, to Oklahoma and Georgia Tech, but said it's more to see the country than anything serious. 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. He will play in the middle for the Bruins. Offered

Donovan Carter, 6-2, 222, Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham. COMMITTED UCLA offered Carter in May and it made a big impact on him, moving them to the front of his recruitment and he ultimately committed to the Bruins in June. 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 had started to offer Carter, but the Bruins had the edge thanks to the early offer and the proximity to his home. 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. In fact, Carter said that UCLA likes him at strongside. 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 2008. 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 is probably a long shot. But Brown said this week that UCLA has made the first cut from his extensive list of schools. Offered

Other Linebackers Of Note:

Jon Major, 6-4, 225, Ponderosa (Colo.) Offered
Dewitt Stuckey, 6-0, 225, Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln
Zander Fabbri, 6-2, 225, Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial
Kurt Mangum, 6-0, 225, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha
Brandon Magee, 6-0, 225, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
Jerrell Harris, 6-3.5, 208, Gadsden City (Ala.)

CORNERBACKS:

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 wasn't even on our initial recruiting list. But after a spring in which he earned defensive back MVP at the L.A. Nike Camp and all-combine honors at the L.A. Scout Combine, he became a well-known 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 dispel that. Dye could turn out to be the true gem in this class and he was seen almost regularly at UCLA's spring practice and at just about any camp or combine that there was this spring, further cementing his rise as a Top 10 cornerback nationally. Offered

Aaron Hester, 6-0, 165, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. COMMITTED. Hester played his sophomore year at Long Beach Poly and primarily played receiver behind Terrence 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 getting heavy interest from several other Pac-10 programs, including USC, who's offered, and though he didn't participate in any combines or camps this spring (he's part of Dominguez's vaunted track program), he's made it clear he's solid to UCLA. He's very close friends with UCLA corner Alterraun Verner, being coached by Verner's father, Robert, in Pop Warner. 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 very minimal that he'll renege on his verbal, he is best friends with incoming UCLA freshman Courtney Viney. His position coach Tony Perry and UCLA Defensive Coordinator 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 and you can bet a UCLA offer would put Viney in his ear even more. However, the more we talk with Golden, the more we're convinced he's not even going to think about backing off his verbal.

Other Cornerbacks Of Note:

Rashad Evans, 5-10, 160, Union City (Calif.) James Logan
Delano Howell, 5-11, 180, Newhall (Calif.) Hart
Cedric Moore, 5-11, 190, Lakewood (Calif.)
Quinn Evans, 5-9, 170, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha

SAFETIES:

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, though they have an offer out to a safety in the Southwest, 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 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 – from 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 agility 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, that he just wants to see the country, but he will still be a Bruin. Woods has been offered by Michigan, Penn State, California and Oregon since his commitment. He's camping in Big Ten country and he's got family in Ohio, so if Ohio State were to offer, UCLA could be in for a battle. 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

D'Anton Lynn, 6-1, 177, Celina (Texas). Lynn is the son of a former NFL player, so the bloodlines are there. He's one of the best safeties in the Southwest and he's indicated that he plans to take an official visit to Westwood and possibly an unofficial this summer. Todd Howard is recruiting him and Lynn said the Bruins were one of three schools that are recruiting him the hardest. Texas Tech may have the edge right now, but UCLA will keep recruiting him hard. Offered

Other Safeties Of Note:

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

SPECIAL TEAMS:

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.

Jeffrey Locke, 6-1, 185, Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. Locke was offered by UCLA in May 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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