The Bruins already received huge news to head into the weekend when Aundre Dean, the #6-ranked running back in the country by Scout.com, announced on a Houston television station that he would be signing with UCLA.
Dean committed to the Bruins last spring, maintained it throughout the season, then de-committed and reopened his recruitment following the firing of Karl Dorrell. At one point, it seemed like the door was completely shut for Dean to come to UCLA.
Then came the UnderArmour All-America Game, and several of the UCLA commits who participated in the game began to make their pitch. Dean then welcomed Rick Neuheisel and UCLA assistant Reggie Moore into his Katy, Texas, house for an in-home visit, giving UCLA life.
Last weekend, Dean visited UCLA officially and returned home to Texas to ponder his decision. Thursday night, Dean got back on board with UCLA, and gave the Bruins their highest-ranked running back since Maurice Drew in 2003. His commitment is particularly significant; When was the last time UCLA landed a Top 100 player from out-of-state this late in the recruiting season?
Dean is the third to commit to UCLA this past week, joining Kevin Craft, the five-star JC quarterback from Mt. SAC, and safety Sean Westgate from Oak Park (Calif.) High, who de-committed from Arizona to verbal to the Bruins.
The Bruin staff now has 19 solid verbals with four more soft commitments still yet to make up their minds.
Three of the four won't make their final decision until Signing Day.
Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham's running back Milton Knox will visit Notre Dame officially this weekend and the Irish just recently offered him a scholarship. Playing into Notre Dame's favor is that Knox and Notre Dame high school players Anthony McDonald and Dayne Crist, who both committed to the Irish in the spring, are all lifelong friends. Working to UCLA's advantage is the proximity to home. Knox will announce on FSN's High School Spotlight Show next Wednesday evening.
Johnathan Franklin, the running back/defensive back from Los Angeles Dorsey, was planning to make his final decision on Friday, but he's now planning to announce it on Wednesday morning. All indications are that he will re-up with UCLA.
We're hearing that Kevan Walker, the wide receiver from Arcadia (Calif.) High, is most likely on his way to Oregon State. Walker is an interesting situation, as his father, UCLA Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker, is remaining in Westwood, but Walker reportedly wants to blaze his own trail. Also, from a depth chart standpoint, Walker could have an easier time seeing the field earlier at Oregon State. He has indicated that he won't finalize his choice until Signing Day, but we're hearing, barring any change, he's going to commit to OSU.
Lastly, Compton (Calif.) High defensive end prospect Datone Jones hasn't set a deadline for his decision. He told us this week, though, that he's leaning towards sticking with UCLA, with Oregon the lone contender.
UCLA is also still in the mix for Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger linebacker Uona Kaveinga, who committed to the Bruins in March of 2007. Kaveinga de-committed last month, and verballed to BYU, but has been in contact with UCLA as recently as late this week about possibly returning to the Bruins recruiting class. Kaveinga will join Knox on the FSN High School Spotlight Show and make his choice from amongst BYU, USC and UCLA.
And Hamani Stevens, himself a former commit to UCLA, is choosing on Signing Day at noon at his school, from between Oregon and UCLA. Stevens told us Thursday afternoon he was down to three schools, BYU, Oregon and UCLA but then told us Thursday night it was down to the two Pac-10 schools.
There is also a local defensive recruit committed to another Pac-10 school that UCLA is making an effort to steal away.
Plus, the way Neuheisel is operating, don't be surprised if there are some other potential surprises between now and next Wednesday.
The Bruins, if you count the soft verbals, have 23 commitments. If Walker does, indeed, go to Oregon State, UCLA would then have three left to give, which could mean Stevens, Kaveinga and perhaps one more.