Baca Tries to Keep the Class

The committed offensive line prospect from Mission Viejo, Jeff Baca, talks about the recruits' meeting with Rick Neuheisel last Saturday, and what he's doing to try to keep the 2008 recruiting class together...

There was no question that Mission Viejo (Calif.) offensive lineman Jeff Baca is sticking to his commitment to UCLA. Baca committed to his "dream school" last June and never thought about looking elsewhere.

Despite the coaching shake-up at UCLA, he never wavered, and this past weekend, Baca got to meet new coach Rick Neuheisel and came away very impressed.

"It went really well," said Baca. "There were about 8 to 9 recruits up there. It was exciting to meet him and it seemed like he knew what he was doing. He was enthusiastic and it sparked the interest in him."

Baca elaborated on the issues that Neuheisel addressed on Saturday: "He talked about how he wants to implement some things to make us a national powerhouse. Wherever he's been, he's had goals and he wants to take his visions he's had about UCLA up. He has so many ideas and visions he wants to implement to make UCLA a great program again. We got to individually talk with him and he was great."

Baca was impressed that even in the short time Neuheisel has been on the job, he knew each of the recruits. "I was impressed with that," said Baca. "We really didn't talk details, but he said he was just excited to have us there, to get us on the weight program. He's excited to be home at UCLA. He's an alum. I just really liked what he had to say."

Baca said he tried to get a feel for the other recruits that were there, and he's continued in his efforts to keep this class together. "I mean, for the most part, we'll stick together," said Baca. "One or two guys may switch, but I think the key guys, the ones that really bonded on the official visits, I think the key guys will stick together."

Baca was originally recruited by Chuck Bullough and Bob Connelly. Bullough will return, but Connelly is out. Still, the hiring of new coach Bob Palcic to coach the offensive line is one that Baca is looking forward to. "I haven't heard a whole lot about him (Palcic), but he sounds like he's coached some great players," said Baca. "I'm excited for the whole experience. Sure, I'm sad that the coaching staff left and the whole thing happened. But I have to take the good out of everything. I'm excited to play for him. I'm definitely glad that Coach Bullough is back. He's a great guy and I've gotten to know him well."

Baca said he wasn't planning to make any official visits to other schools, but said he may try and take one more unofficial to Westwood in the next couple weeks. "I want to go up there soon and meet the new offensive line coach and hopefully the new offensive coordinator," said Baca.

Baca did say his official visit, when he was hosted by former Mission Viejo teammate Chane Moline, was enjoyable. "It was a cool trip, especially hanging out with Chane. I don't look at him like he was my host. We were friends before so it was just like hanging out again. But it was cool hanging out with the other commits," said Baca.

Before he heads into track season, Baca said he had one focus in mind: "My job is to keep the class together. We have so many athletes committed to UCLA, and they were once solid, and now they're soft. So my job is to keep them together."


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