"I'm solid and I'm fully committed to UCLA," said Baca. "It's my dream school, and has been seen ever since I was six or seven. I'm trying to contact all the recruits and all the commits and remind them it's all about the school. You commit to a school, you don't commit to a coach. That's how I thought about it. I go for the school, and the coach, in this business, there could always be coaching changes."
Baca did admit he's hoping some of the coaches that have been instrumental in recruiting him remained on staff.
"Coach (Chuck) Bullough was my recruiter and he said they don't really know too much with what's going on. Coach (Bob) Connelly, he was the one who offered me. He was in the same room with Coach Bullough and I talked to him that same night. I hope to play for him next year, he recruited me, and he had the final say, he's the coach I had to go to camp for. He boosted my confidence, he wants to coach. I want to see him stay and play for him. I hope they stay."
Baca attended a handful of UCLA games this fall and he'll be in Westwood this weekend when the rest of the commits take their official visit, but in the meantime, he's been communicating with other verbals in the class.
"Nick Crissman and I have grown a little closer so far," said Baca. "He's pretty solid on UCLA, and we're both trying to get a hold of all the other offensive commits, and the defensive commits. This is a championship class especially if we can keep everyone together during this time."
Baca is also anticipating his visit to UCLA this weekend. "I'm really excited about it, I have been looking forward to it for a long time."
He did say that a couple of in-state schools have poked around to see how solid he was.
"San Diego State was wondering how solid I was and a coach came to the school. Pete Carroll, I talked to him a little bit, he wanted to know how solid I was. They both found out I was fully committed," said Baca.
Baca said that the news of Dorrell's firing wasn't a surprise.
"I wasn't expecting it when I committed, but I started bracing for it and expecting it when the season went on. It was a matter of when and it wasn't too shocking. It was all over the newspaper and the news, so I kind of expected it to happen," said Baca.
Baca said that he's interested in seeing what kind of offense UCLA will run when he starts out this fall.
"I'm really excited about what this offense could be like," said Baca. "It looks like I'm being brought in as an offensive tackle. I've been working with center, just in case. I don't think I'm much of a guard, so it will be either tackle or center. I like how they have an offensive based coach that they're targeting."
Baca said a recent growth spurt has him at 6-5, 282.
This spring, he'll do track for the Diablos, and he's hoping to compete for a CIF title in the shotput. Could track be in his future at UCLA?
"It depends on this year, because right now, I'm not at the college level. But if I got up there a couple of more feet, I could maybe do it. If they let me," said Baca.
Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham linebacker Donovan Carter (6-2, 230) committed to UCLA in June, but the firing of Karl Dorrell and the unknown status of several key defensive coaches has Carter making sure his options are open.
"I'm going to UCLA this weekend with the other recruits, but I'm supposed to go to Washington on January 11th and to Arizona State sometime in January," said Carter. "Arizona State and Washington are really the only other schools I'm looking at. Arizona called the other day, but I'm not real serious about them."
Like many of the commits, Carter is interested in seeing what happens in the coaching search, and what assistants stay.
"If Coach (Chuck) Bullough and Coach (DeWayne) walker stay, then I'm going to stay with UCLA," said Carter. "I got a chance to talk to Coach Bullough after Coach Dorrell was let go and I talked a little to Coach Walker. Also, I talked to Coach (Todd) Howard when he came by the school. For me, it's more like who stays and who goes than who the head coach is."
Carter was offered by Washington early in the process and the Huskies have stayed in touch with him, resulting in his desire to take a trip up to Seattle. And even if the key coaches that Carter hopes stays are retained, he still plans to take visits.
"I'm still going to take these two trips and see what these schools are like," said Carter. "You only get to do this once."
Carter led a stout Patriots defense this year, one that gave up only 19 points in four playoff games and, during the season, went a month without giving up any points. He played in the middle for Birmingham, but said that he'll likely end up on the weakside in college.
"They have me playing at Will in college and we'll see how I am when I get there if they keep me there or move me," said Carter.
A final decision from Carter may not come until Signing Day.
"I mean, I'm still committed to UCLA, but I'll probably make my final decision by Signing Day," said Carter.
Palmdale (Calif.) offensive lineman Connor Bradford (6-4.5, 270) was a relative unknown when UCLA offered him, and he committed, back in June.
And while Bradford said he remains committed to the Bruins, the recent removal of Karl Dorrell as head coach has him rethinking what was becoming somewhat of a shaky verbal regardless.
"I am still committed to UCLA, but I fully plan to take all five of my official visits," said Bradford. "I will be taking my first official visit this next weekend to UCLA. The coaches said they would like all of the commits to take their trip that weekend, so I will be visiting."
Bradford said he knows of at least two other schools he will be visiting and the other could be filled in later. "Cal has really come on strong and they have offered me so I plan to take a visit there sometime in January," said Bradford. "Washington State has also offered me and was recruiting me heavily, but I don't know who their coach is going to be."
Bradford said several other Pac-10 schools, plus Utah, San Diego State and Nevada, have also been keeping tabs on him, the latter three having previously offered.
"I guess you can say I'm waiting to see what happens at UCLA before I make a final decision," said Bradford. "Coach (Bob) Connelly is the coach recruiting me and he was who offered me so I would like to see if he will be back. I have talked with Coach (DeWayne) Walker some too and if he comes back, that would be nice."
Bradford indicated that he may not have a final decision, even if UCLA retains certain coaches, until after he's taken all five of his official visits.
"I will for sure be taking my trips just so I can see what all of my options are before I decide," said Bradford.
The first commitment to UCLA in the class of 2008, Anthony Dye of Corona Santiago, is still committed to the Bruins, but like much of the class in the wake of Karl Dorrell's firing, Dye is in wait-and-see mode.
"Anthony is still committed to UCLA, but we're going to wait and see what happens until we know more," said his father Mark. "We'll be taking our visit next week (to UCLA) with the other commits, and we hope to know something then."
"He was supposed to go to Corvallis this weekend, but with the championship game, we'll have to move it. Next week is UCLA's visit," said Mark.
Dye has maintained throughout the last few months that he was keeping his options open, in case there was a shakeup in the coaching staff.
"He's going to wait and see what happens with Coach (DeWayne) Walker at UCLA," said Mark. "Coach Walker took a chance on Tony and offered him before anyone else did and that means a lot to us. So we want to see what happens with him and see what the timeline is in deciding a new coach, whoever that may be."
The visit to Corvallis for Dye may not happen until mid-January, since after the dead period, Dye will be playing in the ESPN Under-Armour All-American Game.
This weekend, the Sharks, who received one of the last spots into the playoffs, will play Corona Centennial at the Home Depot Center for the CIF-Inland Division title.
Dye has switched from receiver to running back in the past few weeks and the Sharks have caught fire. Dye has rushed for 495 yards in the playoffs alone and scored eight touchdowns. His defensive play hasn't suffered either, recording 46 tackles the last three games.
On the recruiting front, Pollard's commitment to UCLA hasn't wavered since pledging to the Bruins in the summer.
"Marlon is still committed to UCLA," said his mother Rachel. "We talked to Coach (DeWayne) Walker this week to make sure about his offer, and he said UCLA still wants Marlon. So Marlon is still very committed to UCLA."
Pollard played this past season at Valencia but this week made a big move that will have him playing his senior season in the Inland Empire.
"We bought a house in San Bernardino so Marlon will be playing his senior year at Cajon High," said Rachel. "He started school there (on Monday). Marlon was sad to leave his friends at Valencia and he liked the coaches there and liked playing there. But we're originally from the Inland Empire, we only lived in Valencia for a few years. All of our family is out there."
Pollard and his mother even checked with the UCLA coaching staff to see if the move would affect their decision to bring him in.
"We talked to Coach Walker about if us moving would affect Marlon and he said not at all," said Rachel.
Pollard started classes this week and will most likely do track for Cajon in the spring before playing for them next fall. Cajon finished runner up to Colton in the San Andreas League this past season.
During his junior year, Pollard had 56 tackles and three interceptions for the Vikings, who lost a heartbreaker to Newbury Park on a last-minute field goal in the CIF-SS Northern Division quarterfinals.
"I'm still a solid verbal to UCLA, nothing has changed," said Hester. "With Coach Dorrell gone, there is nothing I can do about it but ride it out and see what happens next. I'd love for Coach (DeWayne) Walker to be the head coach. He's a real cool person and a defensive minded coach. I'm hoping at least they keep Coach Walker, Coach (Eric) Scott and Coach (Todd) Howard on staff."
Hester said that despite rumors of him being a soft commitment, that's not the case and he doesn't have a deadline set to solidify his decision, for good reason.
"Yeah, I'm still committed, so really, there is no decision to be made," said Hester. "I'm planning on visiting UCLA next weekend with the other commits."
"Really, every school in the Pac-10 has been showing interest," said Hester. "I tripped to Arizona State and Washington, they have been trying to get me up there for a visit, but I don't know when that will happen."
In the meantime, Hester said he's been talking regularly with the other UCLA commits, especially this week, and he said the group is looking forward to the visit next weekend, and seeing how the coaching search plays out.
"It's out of my control, so all I can do is watch," said Hester.
Hester said that the plan is for him to still come in at cornerback, despite having good safety size. He'll play that position next month as well, when he plays in the Offense-Defense All-American Game in Miami.
One of UCLA's top receiver commits is Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino receiver Nelson Rosario (6-6, 205), and Rosario received the news on Monday that head coach Karl Dorrell was fired, like many of the other recruits.
"I felt bad for him because he was one of the main coaches recruiting me," said Rosario. "But I had been hearing that it could happen."
Rosario said he is opening things up somewhat in his recruitment, with some familiar schools in the mix.
"I'm right in the middle of being a soft commit and a solid commit," said Rosario. "I guess you could call it medium. The schools that I was looking at seriously before I committed are the ones I'm looking at. Colorado and Oregon mostly."
Rosario said that he would likely be taking trips to a couple of schools but said that nothing has been set up. The one place he knows he'll be officially visiting, though, is UCLA and he'll do so next weekend when the rest of the commits take their trip."
"I'm still committed to UCLA but I need to look at some other options if things don't work out with a new coach. I want to see what kind of offense they're going to run and what kind of offensive coach they bring in," said Rosario. "If Coach (DeWayne) Walker, Coach (Eric) Scott and Coach (Dino) Babers stay, then I'll most likely still sign with them. But I'm going to wait and see."
Rosario had a big senior season and with his size, speed and skill, its not a surprise that other schools have stayed on him despite his July commitment to the Bruins. But he admits it's been stressful.
"I wanted to commit to get recruiting over with but now its kind of stressful because I'm having to look at things again," said Rosario. "Coach Babers called me on Monday just to talk and say to be patient and wait for things to get taken care of before doing anything else."
It's safe to say that no UCLA commit was affected by the firing of Karl Dorrell like Arcadia (Calif.) athlete Kevan Walker. With Dorrell's release earlier this week, Walker's father, DeWayne, is now the interim coach for the Bruins.
It's still uncertain if the elder Walker will be back next year, and in what capacity, but for now, Kevan says he's still on board with UCLA.
"Right now, I'm still committed," said Walker. "I'm being positive about the whole situation. It was a difficult decision for them to let Coach Dorrell go and I honestly don't know who they're going to bring in."
Walker admitted he hopes that UCLA doesn't look too far in who they hire as the next head coach.
"I'd definitely like to see that because he's wanted to be a head coach for a long time," said Walker. "Even being the interim coach he's really happy."
And though there is the natural tie with his father being involved in the process, Walker said it was a relationship with another coach that is playing a big role.
"Coach E-Scott, that's a big part of my decision. Me and Coach E have a pretty strong relationship. I would go up there and talk with him all the time and with the decision of him staying or not, it could play a factor," said Walker.
Walker said his father isn't doing anything different in his recruitment, taking a more hands-off approach.
"He's still being a father and not a coach to me in this," said Walker. "He's not really trying to persuade me either way. If I still feel comfortable with UCLA than obviously I'll stay no matter what happens."
Given his connection to the coaching staff, Walker said several of UCLA's commits have been in contact with him in the last few days, trying to get a read on things.
"I talked to Cory Harkey and Donovan Carter and Antwon Moutra," said Walker. "For the most part, everyone is trying to wait and see. For me, it will be a big plus if he did get hired as the head coach because he's wanted it for a while. A lot of the guys are saying the same thing."
With the possibility that he could end up that his dad could end up elsewhere, Walker said he's still being recruited by other schools. "Arizona has been on my strongly and they're coming down to see me. I'll probably take an official visit there. But honestly, it's UCLA right now for me. The main focus for me is academics, not really recruiting."
Datone Jones is still verbally committed to UCLA, but the four-star defensive end from Compton, Calif., is peeking around. One of the schools Jones is looking at is Notre Dame.
Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown came by Compton High on Monday, and head coach Charlie Weis and assistant Brian Polian were there last week.
"It was cool talking to them," Jones said. He is also considering Colorado, Oregon and Arizona State as possible alternatives to UCLA. "They said they're going to set up a trip to my house."
The 6-foot-4, 233-pound Jones and the Notre Dame coaches also talked about setting up a potential visit.
"They told me whenever I want to set up a visit, I could set one up," Jones said. USC assistant coach Ken Norton Jr., also came by the school last week. "I'm going to be busy all this month with my schooling, so it would have to be next year."
Jones might be free this weekend, but promised the Colorado coaching staff that he'd visit there if he could.
While Jones is verbally committed to UCLA, everyone will have to wait until national signing day, when he announces live on FSN.
With head coach Karl Dorrell getting let go from UCLA, what's keeping the program in the mix with Jones is that the rest of the coaching staff is still there.
"If they don't get fired, I'm still good."
"I'd say its probably about 100% with Uona and his commitment to UCLA," said Leuzinger assistant coach Ralph Oliver. "He's just felt comfortable with them the whole time and they've been honest with him and really given him a lot of attention."
Kaveinga picked up an offer earlier this fall from USC, and while the offer was tempting for him, Oliver said several factors kept him from committing to USC.
"I think after the initial reaction wore off, he was still solid to UCLA. He was the first linebacker that UCLA offered and that meant a lot. At USC, they wanted him for fullback then for linebacker, but he felt at UCLA they wanted him more," said Oliver.
Even with the recent decision to fire Karl Dorrell, Oliver said Kaveinga hasn't really wavered.
"He'd like them to keep the coaches who have been recruiting him, Coach (DeWayne) Walker, Coach (Eric) Scott and Coach (Chuck) Bullough but he understands that changes could be made. Still, even if the coaches were gone, he's probably going to go there. He committed to the school first."
That's not to say that Kaveinga won't look at any other schools. He may still take a visit to USC, according to Oliver and he will for sure be taking a trip to BYU next month.
"He's going to BYU the 12th of January and he's going to visit UCLA next weekend (December 15th) when the other commits do," said Oliver.
A four-star linebacker by Scout.com, Kaveinga will be playing in the ESPN Under Armour All-American Game in January.
With the coaching change at UCLA, Aundre Dean is rethinking his commitment to the Bruins. The four-star running back from Katy TX told InsideTheVille.com that he'll visit Louisville next month and his friendship with former Cardinal great Amobi Okoye has Dean seriously considering playing for Steve Kragthorpe's program next season.
"I'm not de-committing from UCLA because I've got to sit on it and see what happens," Dean said. "But it is what it is. It's a soft verbal right now."
The uncertainty for Dean stems from the firing Monday of UCLA coach Karl Dorrell. Now, the 6'1, 204-pound Dean will sit back and watch who the Bruins next coach will be. In the meantime, Dean says he'll keep his options open and entertain offers from other programs.
One program already with their foot in the door is Louisville. Louisville assistant Tony Alford called Dean last Saturday to express the Cardinals interest. During the conversation, Alford convinced Dean to make an official visit to Louisville next month. Dean is set to visit Louisville January 11-12.
"They were recruiting me pretty hard earlier in the year before I committed to anybody and then they kind of stopped recruiting me once I committed to UCLA," said Dean, who had verbally committed to Texas A&M before switching to UCLA. "They told me that I was a guy that they really wanted back in the summer and they really want me to come up and visit and check things out."
Interestingly, Dean has developed a friendship with former Louisville great Amobi Okoye. Okoye, who plays for the Houston Texans, lives close to Dean in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
"I'm good friends with Amobi Okoye who went to Louisville and plays for the Texans," Dean said. "He's one of my real good friends and he's been putting the word in my ear about Louisville and telling me to check them out. I've done some research on them and I liked what I saw offensive-wise. They've got that down-hill running style that I like and a pro-style offense. So I think it would be a good place for me and a good fit."
Arizona State is also in the picture. The Sun Devils will make an in-home visit Tuesday night with Dean. "I'm probably going to set up an official visit to Arizona State, too," Dean said. "The two visits that I know I'm going to be taking are to Arizona State and Louisville."
This story originally published on InsideTheVille.com
But like many of them, Franklin is now in wait-and-see mode following the firing of Karl Dorrell on Monday.
"It's unfortunate because Coach Dorrell was a cool dude," said Franklin. "I liked him and I liked what he did for the program. A lot of the athletes got hurt and I cannot really blame him for all the losses, like the quarterbacks going down and the running backs going down. There were a lot of unfortunate events. I hope in the future he just keeps going and does something and finds something that makes him happy, wish him the best of luck."
That said, Franklin is very interested in what happens next with the UCLA coaching staff.
"As long as most of the coaching staff stays, I'm committed there," said Franklin. "If Coach E-Scott and Coach Walker are there, I'm staying. But if they go, I'll probably go."
Where he goes is uncertain, but he said that Arizona State has been coming on strong of late.
"Arizona State has showed some interest in me," said Franklin. "Coach Yarbs (Eric Yarber) is a real cool dude. I'm thinking about taking a trip up there."
Franklin, though, said he'd like to see the class at UCLA stay together, the bond they had built the past few months being strong.
"The recruiting class is amazing," said Franklin. "It has a lot of athletes and a lot of players who really love football. And our plan is to be that class that turns it around there."
Franklin said he won't make a decision about his future until he knows what the situation at UCLA will include.
"I'm on the lookout right now and in wait-and-see mode," said Franklin. "I plan on taking my trip up there and then I'll figure things out."
"It was something I didn't want to see, but yeah, I was kind of expecting it," said Moutra. "Things happen and it always happens with coaches coming in."
Moutra said the firing of Dorrell doesn't affect him nearly as much as the possibility of two coaches responsible for recruiting him, Eric Scott and DeWayne Walker, leaving.
"It matters to me what happens with Coach Walker and Coach Scott," said Moutra. "Because a lot of this is building relationships. Its like having a father sign a birth certificate and then leaving. I've been around those guys for a while, and then someone new could come in and he doesn't know anything about us and we don't know anything about him. So that will matter."
Moutra said he had a good trip to Oregon this past weekend and he'll be visiting Arizona this weekend officially with Cal also discussing setting up a visit with him.
"It was a good visit to Oregon," said Moutra. "They told me everything they had to offer and how I would fit in to the offense. They showed me a great time."
He plans to take an official visit to UCLA and said he would make a final decision and where he'll end up following all of his official visits."
Fullerton (Calif.) Troy fullback Derrick Coleman had an eventful Monday.
"I wasn't really surprised," said Coleman. "It kind of looked like the coaches weren't going to be there. Maybe it's a good thing. We'll find out."
On Monday evening, Coleman ended up receiving an offer from USC.
"USC offered me (Monday) as a tailback. I'm taking an official visit to USC this weekend," said Coleman. "San Diego State is the other school who's been talking to me a lot."
Coleman said the offer from the Trojans further skews things for him.
"My options are kind of opening right now," said Coleman. "I'm worried that a new coach could come in and not be interested in me. It's a win-win situation wherever I go, UCLA or USC. I want to make a decision that I won't regret and find out all the information. It actually is stressful again."
Coleman said he would make a final decision on his commitment after he took an official visit to UCLA, which he's planning to do on December 15th.
"After I take those official visits, I'll know," said Coleman. "I'll want to see how long the process at UCLA will be."
Like many of the other committed prospects to the Bruins, Johnson received the news on Monday that head coach Karl Dorrell was fired.
"I was kind of surprised that they fired him because I understand all the injuries," said Johnson. "But I kind of had a feeling and had been hearing a lot that they could let him go."
Johnson, though, said when he committed to UCLA, he looked at the big picture.
"I committed to UCLA for the school, not the coach," said Johnson. "I'm still going to take my trip to Cal (next weekend), like I had planned to, but I'm also going to visit UCLA and that's where I plan to go."
Johnson said that Eric Scott and DeWayne Walker were the primary coaches recruiting him and he hopes to see them stay in Westwood.
"I hope that Coach Scott and Coach Walker are back because they've really meant a lot to me through my recruitment," said Johnson.
"It's unfortunate for him to leave," said Larimore. "But its not really affecting my status at all. I'm still planning on going to UCLA. Even if the whole coaching staff left, I'm still solid."
Larimore said he talked to linebackers coach Chuck Bullough shortly after he received the news.
"Coach Bullough said they'd be in meetings all day, but they have a good chance of staying," said Larimore. "The press made it sound for sure like he (Dorrell) was gone and I had it in the back of mind, but I wasn't certain knowing he was going to leave. It's exciting though, now, to go through the names of who they plan on bringing in."
Larimore said he wasn't planning to take any official visits anywhere but to UCLA, which he'll do in mid-December.
Crissman got word about Karl Dorrell's firing from UCLA on Monday morning but said that nothing regarding his verbal to the Bruins has changed.
"Coach Dorrell being fired, it doesn't change my commitment at all," said Crissman.
UCLA's offensive coordinator, Jay Norvell and Dorrell offered Crissman in May and he committed that day, and he said he's been solid to the Bruins since then, having grown up a UCLA fan.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play for UCLA, growing up and watching them. There is nothing to not like about UCLA. I love everything about the school," Crissman said when he committed.
The four-star passer will next play in the ESPN All-American Game in January.
Three-star kicker/punter Jeff Locke from Glendale (AZ) Mt. Ridge HS was contacted by Scout.com to see if he would re-open his recruitment after learning that UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell will not coach the Bruins next season.
Locke's response was, "No."
Good news for Bruin fans as Locke is one of the top-kickers in the country.