Best Shots in FB Recruiting: Part 2

The second part of the two-part story looks at the guys UCLA has the best chance with on defense, as of right now. Luckily there's a healthy list of elite prospects at defensive line...<p> <b>PART TWO: DEFENSE</B>


The defensive line is UCLA's biggest need in this recruiting class and, luckily, there is quite a good amount of defensive line talent, and UCLA is seriously involved with many of them.

UCLA could take up to five defensive line recruits this year since next year its top five defensive linemen will all be seniors. Two defensive ends, two defensive tackles, and one more DL that either is an end or tackle.

Among those, UCLA could try to get two JC linemen. UCLA, though, doesn't traditionally recruit JC players well. Most of the time UCLA can't get a typical JC player into school. It's not even necessarily grades, but class requirements. Many times JC football players are P.E. majors, and UCLA doesn't have a P.E. major. Most of their credits are then not transferable. Even if they aren't P.E. majors, many times a JC player's classes aren't transferable to UCLA anyway. So, finding a player who can play at UCLA's level with the academics, someone like Ryan Boschetti, is an exception rather than standard.

UCLA is scouting some JC defensive linemen, including Brian Pollock from El Camino College. He's 6-1 and 310 and, if you remember, wanted to go UCLA out of high school but UCLA didn't offer him. He went to BYU, then left the school and enrolled at El Camino. Reportedly he likes UCLA, and UCLA is in the process of checking him out.

Other JC possibilities: J.C. Braker, DE, 6-6, 240, Glendale, Ariz.; Mike Mapu, DE, 6-4, 245, DE, Mesa, Ariz.; Ryan Riddle, DE, 6-3, 245, El Camino, Calif.; Gabe Reininger, DT, 6-2, 275, Moorpark College; John Guydon, 6-3, 297, Fullerton CC.

The information on the JC prospects is a bit sketchy, and it's uncertain as to whether UCLA will even be able to recruit any of these players. JC players, also, tend to wait until the end of their season to take recruiting seriously and then make a quick decision in December before the JC signing date in mid-December. So, we'll maybe hear about UCLA being involved with some JC defensive linemen more next month.

Among the high school seniors, UCLA has a good list of defensive tackle prospects that it has a good, legit shot at getting. Sedrick Ellis (#8 DT nationally) has maintained that UCLA is at the top or near the top of his list for months. Keith Brown (#17 DT) has had UCLA toward the top of his list. Kyle Caldwell (#10 DT) has been thought to be leaning to UCLA at different times. Brandon Mebane (#50 DT) is a prospect UCLA recently offered and his stock is really skyrocketing right now. He could become a top 20 defensive tackle in the country by the end of the season, and he is said to like UCLA. UCLA, perhaps, has probably its best shot with Jared Naylor (#59 DT) from Oklahoma. If it can get two among this list, it would be considered a coup.

At defensive end, UCLA has a good list of names. They have some big national guys they could get visits out of. Victor Abiamiri is perhaps the biggest (#8 DE), and the Bruins will probably get a visit out of him, but would considered a longshot to get him. Another big name is Kirston Pittman (#9) and, like Abiamiri, have a chance to get a visit but are a longshot to land him. The same goes for Chris Ellis (#22). They actually do have a trip arranged with Alonzo Dotson (#26). While all four of them could be longshots, it's great that all four could trip and maybe one out of the four, at least, UCLA could have a good shot in landing.

Bruce Davis (#25) is probably still their best bet at defensive end, coming from a UCLA family. He was close to committing after visiting for UCLA's summer camp. Also a very good bet among the players offered is Blake Smith, who is teammates and best friends with Jared Naylor and has said UCLA is his favorite. Alex Morrow (#42) has seen his stock rise this season, and UCLA has offered. He grew up a UCLA fan and will take a visit, so UCLA looks to have a pretty decent chance at him. Noah Sutherland is another that UCLA has offered that will take a trip and the Bruins have a good shot at landing. Aaron Whittington is someone to watch here, too, since he'll more than likely take a trip to UCLA.

If they get to them, there are a number of players that UCLA hasn't offered yet that they would have a good shot at getting if they did, and then recruited them aggressively. Guys like Matt Spanos, Phillip Rauscher, Joe Rothenberger, and Matt Ngwun from Torrance.


Afer stocking up last season, UCLA will look for probably two linebackers, and be able to be picky about it, especially since Patrick Pierre-Louis will redshirt.

The three prospects at the top of the list are Robert Killebrew (#6), Thomas Williams (#13)and Michael Okwo (#21). UCLA has a legit shot with all three. Killebrew has had an attraction for UCLA and continues to have a soft side for the Bruins even though Oklahoma is recruiting him hard. So much will be decided on his official visit. Williams recently said USC was his leader, but it's still possible to win him over. UCLA has been the on-again, off-again leader for Okwo.

After those three, though, it gets a bit sketchy. In an off-year on the west coast at the position, there aren't many other linebacker recruits that UCLA is involved with, and no more that UCLA has offered that haven't committed elsewhere. It will be interesting to see what UCLA does with Marc Hull, Andy Darkins, Garry Lovely or Corey McKeon, guys who like UCLA and UCLA would be hard to beat if they offered. There are a few guys on the DE list that might end up at linebackers, such as Davis and Whittington.


UCLA has room for probably four defensive backs total – probably two safeties and two corners. It already has one of the best safety prospects in the west and the #15 in the nation in Dennis Keyes. He also could end up a running back, which he also excels at in high school.

The prospects at safety aren't numerous. UCLA isn't necessarily too concerned with the safety position, also, with a good stock of young players on the roster and Keyes in the fold.

They've offered Terrell Thomas, but he doesn't seem very enamored of UCLA lately. It could be a matter that UCLA ends up not taking another safety or, if it has some open rides, takes a chance on someone like Daniel Varvel. Varvel, reportedly, has had a good senior season so far.

Also, some of the other athletes mentioned at wide receiver – like Joe Cowan – could end up at safety.

UCLA, though, has a need for bigger, more physical cornerbacks. It's obvious the benefit that they bring on the field, and UCLA has some smaller corners currently on the roster and would like to get some size.

Leon Hall seemed like the perfect fit -- a long-time UCLA fan that UCLA had offered. But things have gone a bit south lately with him, and he seems enamored of Michigan. UCLA could turn it around, though. UCLA will get a trip out of Maryland prospect Ambrose Wooden, which gives them a shot. Other out-of-staters they'll probably trip in are Syndric Steptoe and Stephen Hodge. You bring in an out-of-state kid to UCLA there's always a chance.

Probably a good bet might be Condrew Allen, who has said if UCLA offered he'd commit. Another would be Theotis Brown's son, Trey Brown, who impressed the UCLA coaches at the UCLA summer camp. One guy you'd really like to see improve his academics is Chad Green, the teammate of Dennis Keyes. He could be one of the best few corners in the west, and if his academics improve UCLA would have a good chance since he's close with Keyes.

Other guys UCLA hasn't offered that they could maybe move on are Donte Maddox, Johnny Walker, Clarence Simpson and Damion Porter. Again, some of the guys mentioned among the wide receivers could end up as cornerbacks, like Mike Harris.

A Note: In a year where UCLA might not have it easy on the recruiting front with the elite prospects, and it has a good stock of young talent on its roster, it could be a year where UCLA does some more trolling for that undiscovered sleeper prospect that they've been very good at finding in recent years (players like Matt Clark, Eyoseff Efseaff, Steve Vieira, Brandon Chillar, Craig Bragg, and Mike McCloskey). There are a few other sleeper prospects out there that could be on the verge of being added to UCLA's offensive and defensive recruiting lists, but they're names that aren't too well known and it would probably benefit UCLA to keep them under-publicized at this time.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories