Keeping the 2008 Recruiting Class

Right now, the biggest issue in UCLA football recruiting is retaining the prospects currently committed to UCLA in the 2008 class, which is ranked nationally at #7. Here is a recruit-by-recruit run-down on UCLA's chances for keeping each of them...

At one point this year, UCLA had verbals from 23 prospects in the class of 2008. Right now, UCLA stands at 21 commits, and five of those have publicly called themselves "soft verbals." Another eight are expected to take official visits elsewhere before Signing Day.

With so much uncertainty in the UCLA coaching situation, many of the commits, who gave their verbal to UCLA early on in the process and indicated that Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker and receiver coach Eric Scott played big roles in their commitments to the Bruins, are keeping their options open.

We've spoken to each commit since the firing of Karl Dorrell to get their status with the Bruins, though some continue to change by the day. So instead of doing a recruiting reset of whom UCLA is still targeting, here's one on whom they have commitments from and the chances UCLA has in retaining them.

There are five categories we've classified the commits in:

1- Solid (Not going anywhere)
2- Pretty Solid (Most likely will ink with UCLA)
3- Coaching Decision (Basing their choice on who is retained from the staff)
4- Very Soft (Very seriously looking at other options, maybe a longshot for UCLA)
5- Likely Gone (More than likely will end up elsewhere)

SOLID:

Edison QB Nick Crissman -- He's been the ringleader in keeping this class together since the coaching shake-up. Crissman has called just about every commit, imploring them to stay on board.

Mission Viejo OL Jeff Baca -- Like his fellow Orange County neighbor, Baca has been working the phones talking with the commits and doing his part to keep this class intact. Baca, like Crissman, has been a lifelong UCLA fan and is committed no matter what.

Hart LB Patrick Larimore -- Another longtime UCLA fan, Larimore committed to the Bruins early on and hasn't wavered, despite having a big senior season. Though he didn't take his visit with the rest of the commits, he had a prior obligation and will take it in January.

Mountain Ridge P Jeff Locke -- An excellent student, Locke cited the UCLA education as a major factor in why he committed in the first place. Despite living in Arizona, he was a frequent guest at UCLA games this fall. He also knows he'll be in line to punt as a redshirt freshman.

Chino Hills TE Cory Harkey -- Another early commit, Harkey turned down several other Pac-10 schools so he could stay close to his family and he knows there is a chance for early playing time.

PRETTY SOLID:

Palmdale OL Connor Bradford -- Despite an offer from California, and a pending trip to Berkeley, Bradford said he is leaning towards sticking with the UCLA commitment, but he does plan to take a visit or two just to be sure.

Colton DE Damien Holmes -- He took a visit to Oregon during the fall and it made a good impression on him but Holmes said after his official trip to UCLA that it was the place for him and he committed to the school, not the coaches. He and Crissman have struck up a friendship and Crissman has been working on him. While he's solid, Holmes is good enough that other big-time programs still could make a play for him.

Culver City WR Antwon Moutra -- A Southern California native, Moutra plans to take some more visits and has already taken a couple of them. His family would like him nearby and Moutra will have a chance to play early. He's got family ties to UCLA as well, with cousin Robert Thomas being a former all-American LB for UCLA and another cousin being the current Bruin basketball guard, Russell Westbrook.

Troy RB Derrick Coleman -- Two weeks ago, Coleman would have been lower on this list, but after his visit to UCLA earlier this month, he said that it was the best place for him and he said he was back to being a solid verbal to the Bruins. Still, with an offer from USC, you can bet they won't go quietly.

Leuzinger LB Uona Kaveinga -- USC has also offered Kaveinga, but UCLA's early offer and recruitment of him made a big impact. The team to watch for Kaveinga will be BYU, where he plans to visit in January, being his churches' school, and given his father's status in the church, they could make a legitimate run at him. Still, we've heard that he's "90% a Bruin."

COACHING DECISION:

Arcadia WR Kevan Walker -- No commit is more affected by the coaching decision than Walker, whose father is one of the finalists for the job. If DeWayne Walker gets the job, you can bet that Kevan will stay with the Bruins, even though he said he'll still take some visits. But if someone other than Walker gets the job, then all bets are off for Kevan signing with UCLA.

Dorsey S Rahim Moore -- The highest-rated commit to the Bruins, Moore has made no bones about his desire to play for Walker and Scott. He told us after his visit he is solid to UCLA, as long as Walker and Scott are back, but if they leave, he is likely gone.

Dorsey RB Johnathan Franklin -- Like Moore, Franklin has developed an affinity for Walker and Scott and he too said following his visit, that if they stay, he's sticking around. But Franklin is also considering Arizona State and a change in the coaching staff, which includes the departure of Walker and Scott, and Franklin could be bound for Tempe.

Venice WR Jerry Johnson -- We probably could have put Johnson in the "pretty solid" camp, but being the first offensive commit to UCLA, and committing largely in part because Eric Scott personally recruited him, makes Johnson a candidate to switch should Scott not be back. Johnson said he's solid to UCLA but he will take some trips.

Dominguez CB Aaron Hester -- While he said he remains solid to UCLA, Hester has been getting a lot of attention from several schools, including a recent offer and trip scheduled with Miami, where his cousin, Devin Hester, played. Also, Washington has been on him and should Walker leave for the DC job in Seattle, that could play a big role in swaying him.

El Camino WR Nelson Rosario -- He said he was solid to the Bruins following his visit, firming up a commitment that he softened following Dorrell's firing. But Rosario is planning to take visits and if Scott and running backs coach Dino Babers, who recruited him, aren't back, that could open the door for Oregon to make a big run for him, since they were one of the competitors for his services.

Birmingham RB Milton Knox -- He too said his relationship with Babers, and the looming possibility Babers is gone, could affect his commitment. Knox has an offer from Florida and took a visit to Gainesville, and he is also visiting Notre Dame next month, with the possibility that the Irish could offer him. UCLA will make every effort to keep Knox whoever the coach is; it's tough to let the City Player of the Year go, especially given UCLA's need at running back.

Birmingham LB Donovan Carter- Like Knox, his relationship with the coaches, in this case, LB coach Chuck Bullough, is playing a role in his decision to stick with the Bruins or look elsewhere. He'll visit Arizona State and Washington in January, but said that if certain coaches stay, he'll be in Westwood come fall.

Compton DE Datone Jones -- Jones has long planned to take visits and has already taken a few. He was a surprise commitment to the Bruins when he verballed back in March, but he's remained steadfast in his commitment. Still, UCLA keeping Walker and DL coach Todd Howard certainly couldn't hurt to ensure Jones signs with the Bruins, but with schools like Notre Dame and Colorado wanting him for visits, UCLA will have its work cut out for it if it loses Walker and Howard. Colorado has an advantage because his teammate and close friend, Anthony Wright, signed there last year.

VERY SOFT:

Santiago CB Anthony Dye -- The first player to commit to the Bruins, Dye has long maintained his loyalty to DeWayne Walker, the first coach to offer him, as a factor in his decision. Still, Dye said that he's exploring all of his options and he's going to take a visit to Oregon State next month, and the Beavers are the toughest competition now for the Bruins. They also have an ace in the hole themselves, his close friend and former Santiango teammate Ryan McCants, a freshman running back with Oregon State.

LIKELY GONE:

Crespi S E.J. Woods -- One of the few to say that Karl Dorrell's firing would be a big detriment to his recruitment, Woods is probably the one recruit who is the most likely to end up elsewhere, even if Walker and Scott are back. He took a visit to Washington earlier in the fall and his Crespi teammate, Kevin Prince, committed to the Huskies earlier this month. Woods also visited Colorado, doing so the same weekend most of the class was tripping to UCLA. At this point, it's probably a longshot for UCLA to keep Woods.


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