Recruiting Reset: Defensive Prospects

UCLA has seven commitments from defensve players. They look to be set in the secondary, but could still use some more depth along the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle, while they wait for their #1 defensive target, at linebacker, to decide...

As UCLA winds down the 2008 season, they're cranking up the recruiting, with more offers having gone out in the past few weeks, especially to Juco's, as they try to add more depth to some depleted units.

As of now, UCLA has 17 scholarships to give, which is under the NCAA limit of 25 for a given year. It wouldn't, however, be a surprise if UCLA eventually had 20-22 available, since players always leave the program for a myriad of reasons, and a few could be candidates to do so.

To date, UCLA has 16 commitments, seven being on defense, so they're getting close to filling their quota, while waiting for others to make their decision.

In this reset, we'll try to lay out exactly which players have been offered scholarships and what are UCLA's priorities at each position.

This isn't going to be a comprehensive list of every recruit UCLA has shown interest, but a list that concentrates on those players UCLA has offered, those that could possibly receive an offer and those that are most likely to become Bruins.

As we've said on numerous occasions, this is a bad year for tackles in the West, especially in California. UCLA hasn't offered an in-state tackle, and the lone prospect on the West Coast they have offered, Coleman, has grade issues. So they are still closely watching several tackles, in hopes one emerges. Eddie Williams, who committed to UCLA out of Mt. SAC as an offensive lineman, has the body type where he could end up as a defensive lineman, assuming he has the grades and they already have a commitment from one JC defensive tackle in Warner.

Branden Warner, 6-3, 295, Compton (Calif.) College.  COMMITTED.  Warner is originally from the Southeast but came west to play his JC ball, ending up at Compton College.  He committed to the Bruins earlier this month, but took a visit to Washington State last weekend, so now his verbal is a soft one.  He's planning to take an official visit to UCLA in December.  UCLA could use him, as he's getting a lot of attention from schools down South, and he'd be a nice replacement for Brigham Harwell to line up next to Brian Price.  Would have two years to play two. Offered

Latu Heimuli, 6-4, 305, Salt Lake City (Utah) Highland. Heimuli has a UCLA offer, and he's interested in the Bruins, potentially taking a trip officially to Westwood. Nebraska and Washington State have both gotten visits from Heimuli, who is the top defensive tackle prospect in the West region, at #10. UCLA would like for him to visit and that would increase their chances with him. He's gone back and forth on whether or not he'll take an official visit, so UCLA has their fingers crossed. Offered

Deandre Coleman, 6-4, 275, Seattle (Wash.) Garfield. Coleman was supposed to visit UCLA in early-November but will instead visit in early January. A one-time commit to Washington, Coleman has since opened up his recruitment and has visited Cal officially and also is looking at Oregon pretty closely. When we saw Coleman this fall, he wasn't very impressive, looking slow, out-of-shape and disinterested. But he's got the tools to be a bigtime player. He's got some serious work to do academically, though, and that could keep some schools from being too serious about him. Offered

Will Sutton, 6-1, 260, Corona (Calif.) Centennial. Sutton has long been in hopes of laning an offer from UCLA, and made a big impression on the coaches at the 1-Day and 3-Day Camps. However, he's still without an offer. He's the best defensive tackle in California so the lone holdup has to have been his size, and whether he can withstand the rigors of the trenches in the Pac-10. Because in every other capacity, Sutton has had a great year for the Huskies. He's got offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Nebraska among others, and right now, he's a bet to land at one of those three schools. Sutton likes UCLA and his teammate Ricky Marvray has already committed to the Bruins. He's attended a handful of games, and it wouldn't hurt UCLA to get somewhat of a pipeline with Centennial. So we'll see if he ends up landing that offer.

Edward Nuckols, 6-2, 291, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills. Nuckols is one of the better tackles in the West. His problem has been academics, having a self-reported 2.0 in the spring. However Nuckols said he's taken summer school classes and his GPA is on the rise and at the same time, UCLA has followed him this fall, requesting more film and transcripts and inviting him to games and were down in San Diego to see him in late October. Nuckols is pretty athletic, he also plays fullback for the Grizzlies, and he's got a slew of West Coast offers. If he does continue to improve academically, it wouldn't be a surprise for UCLA to offer him.

Other Defensive Tackles Of Note:

Noel Beckles, 6-2, 285, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei
Justin Brown, 6-2, 260, Compton (Calif.)
Nathan Holloway, 6-3, 300, Las Vegas (Nev.) Spring Valley
Sione Tuihalamaka, 6-2, 260, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Aloofa Taa, 6-0, 260, Seattle (Wash.) Rainer Beach
Kapono Asuega, 6-1, 265, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran

UCLA landed an excellent pair of pass-rushers in Damien Holmes and Datone Jones a year ago, and they're targeting a bunch of the top prospects out West this year. Like the tackles, it's not a great year in-state, so UCLA has been hitting Arizona and Nevada hard in hopes of landing one of their top prospects, which they did in Graham, who is their top defensive commitment in this class.

Keenan Graham, 6-4, 215, Las Vegas (Nev.) Silverado. COMMITTED. Graham took three official visits, to Colorado, Wisconsin and Nebraska, and said he would take all five, with plans to visit Virginia Tech and USC. Then out of nowhere, he committed to UCLA, giving the Bruins a huge boost, as he was their top defensive line target, and along with Te'o, their top remaining defensive target overall. The top defensive end in the West, and the top player in the state of Nevada, Graham had offers from all over the country, including USC, Tennessee and Oklahoma among others. Offered

Iuta Tepa, 6-3, 238, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Tepa has exploded with a monster senior season for the Jackrabbits, being one of their stellar defenses' stars. He got an early offer from Colorado State and Hawaii, and jumped on the offer from the Warriors, then came an influx of Pac-10 offers. Tepa said he's still solid to Hawaii, but he's open to a few of the Pac-10 schools, including UCLA, Oregon and Oregon State, each who've offered, and will possibly take visits to each of them. Offered

Dyron Dye, 6-5, 225, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole. Dye is a top 20 defensive end nationally and has offers from all the Florida powerhouses and a top seven that includes those three along with LSU, Auburn and USC. And UCLA makes that list also. A big pass-rusher with speed off the edge, Dye said in late October he is hoping to take an official visit out to UCLA. While the Bruins are a longshot, considering the heavy presence of SEC schools, the visit is a positive sign. Offered

Kevin Greene, 6-4, 235, San Francisco (Calif.) Sacred Heart Cathedral. Greene is an intriguing prospect in that he's only playing football for the second year. A prep basketball standout, with a D-I offer on the hardwood, Greene has become a pretty hot commodity out West. He owns about eight offers, with UCLA and Arizona the most recent to offer him, but USC is the heavy favorite. He's not mentioned UCLA much even with an offer. Offered

Devon Kennard, 6-3, 255, Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista. The top defensive end in the state, UCLA offered him earlier this year, but they're way out on the outside looking in. LSU, Texas, USC and hometown Arizona State have all been on him a lot longer. Kennard, though, is likely down to Arizona State, Cal and USC. Offered

Other Defensive Ends Of Note:

Jackson Powell, 6-3, 230, Newbury Park (Calif.)
Josh Banks, 6-4, 230, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's
Sullivan Grosz, 6-4, 240, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial

UCLA already has verbals from two linebackers, one in the middle in Golper and one on the strongside in Bowens. They'll likely take at least one more, probably a weakside backer, though they may wouldn't be opposed to adding a fourth linebacker too. The weakside spot, though, is probably the most pressing to get.

Todd Golper, 6-1, 225, Arcadia (Calif.). COMMITTED Golper was the first recruit in the class of 2009 to commit Rick Neuheisel and he's been the pied piper of the recruiting class, taking the lead as the "recruiter" of this class. Golper is a stout middle-backer, ranked #5 nationally by Scout and looked very good in the spring, after a big junior year and he turned out another big season during his senior year, both at linebacker and at running back, despite suffering a season-ending knee injury in the final weeks. And if there is one player that defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is plenty familiar with, its Golper, who was a teammate of Walker's son, Kevan, the past two seasons. In fact, Golper and QB commit Richard Brehaut have really been the catalysts of the recruiting class. Golper was selected to the Offense-Defense All-American Game. Golper may be one of the best pure football players in this class in California. Offered

Isaiah Bowens, 6-3, 220, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat. COMMITTED Bowens was one of the surprises of the early recruiting stages, but he had some good offers and is coming off a solid junior year. He also comes from one of the top perennial programs in the state in Bishop Amat. Bowens also plays receiver, but his future is on the defensive side of the ball. He's one of two Amat players to commit. Bowens missed the first four games of his senior year with a broken leg, but came back and fit right back into the Lancers defense, which stepped it up down the stretch. He's a likely redshirt candidate. Offered

Manti Te'o, 6-2, 225, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou. The top player on the Islands and the top linebacker in the country, Te'o may be the biggest recruit to ever come from Hawaii. UCLA offered him after his sophomore year, but this one continues to appear to be a USC-BYU battle. Te'o does come from the same high school that offensive coordinator Norm Chow attended. Te'o took an official visit to UCLA in September, the first official visit that he had taken, and he raved about his trip. Then came a visit to Notre Dame earlier this month. Still, we'd be surprised if he ended up somewhere besides USC or BYU. Offered

Vontaze Burfict, 6-2, 235, Corona (Calif.) Centennial. Burfict, the nation's #1 MLB committed to USC earlier this year and says he remains committed to the Trojans but he's somewhat open to other schools, UCLA being one of them. The problem with that is it's well known he's got some work to do academically, to qualify period, so given UCLA's admissions, this is a longshot, at the absolute best, but Burfict is still mentioning the Bruins. Still, we expect him to sign with the Trojans. Offered

Kyle Van Noy, 6-4, 215, Reno (Nev.) McQueen. After Graham, Van Noy is the #2 player in Nevada. He may be the best athlete in the state as well, as he can play a number of positions. He'll likely end up at weakside linebacker in college. The Bruin staff offered him in September, and they're in the mix with Colorado (where he's officially visited), Boise State and BYU among others. Van Noy is planning to make an official visit out to Westwood. BYU could be the team to beat here, though, as Van Noy is LDS. He's planning an official visit to UCLA, potentially for January. Offered

Jordan Barrett, 6-3, 225, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame. Barrett had an excellent junior season, despite playing in the shadows of Anthony McDonald, but he's poised for a big senior year. He has offers from Notre Dame and Washington, but attended UCLA's spring practices and spring game and has legitimate interest in the Bruins. Barrett is a versatile prospect, he could play in the middle or on the strongside too. He's played very well as a senior, helping the Knights to an 11-0 record and he's been to a couple of UCLA games so far and said that the Bruin staff is staying in regular contact with him.

Robert Franco, 6-0, 225, San Pedro (Calif.). Franco attended UCLA's Junior Day and some games this fall, as well as the Spring Game, and the Bruins, along with Cal, are one of his top two schools. Franco said an offer from one of those two schools would be tough for him to pass up. He had a very good day at UCLA's 1-Day Camp, especially in the 1-on-1s but his size could be the concern. Still, he's a big hitting linebacker. Like Bruce, he could also play fullback, but Franco is probably best served playing on defense. Washington State is his lone offer and he's planning to take an official visit there, but he's hoping for some more in-state love, especially from UCLA, Cal and Fresno State.

Tim Tucker, 6-2, 230, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne. A newer name to the list, Tucker has been overshadowed by teammates in the secondary, former UCLA commit Byron Moore (USC) and 2010 stud Sean Parker. But Tucker has really come into his own this season and now schools are beginning to notice. Arizona State offered him earlier this month and UCLA is keeping an eye on him.

Other Linebackers Of Note:

Barkevious Mingo, 6-5, 210, West Monroe (La.) Offered
Boseko Lokombo, 6-3, 215, Vancouver (B.C.)Offered
Maurice Cox, 5-11, 220, Riverside (Calif.) North
Nick Bruce, 6-1, 210, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft
Eric Martin, 6-2, 218, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde

The Bruins have two cornerback commitments, both from early offer guys, though they had to wait a bit for a commitment from Sermons, who was one of their top targets. Price committed back in the spring and had a fine senior season. They still may try and bring in one more corner in this class, but they won't be crushed if it's just Price and Sermons.

Sheldon Price, 6-1, 160, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat. COMMITTED. Price needed all of a half a second to accept UCLA's offer before he committed to the Bruins. The son of former Bruin and NFL defensive back Dennis Price, Sheldon has had UCLA as his dream school his whole life and was just waiting for the offer. After strong showings in Las Vegas and at the Nike Camp, Price received that offer and committed to the Bruins at the Spring Game. He's still needing to add weight, but his nice, long arms and good quickness at the position gives the Bruins a good prospect at the corner spot.Offered

Brandon Sermons, 6-1, 180, Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch. COMMITTED. With Marlon Pollard's decommitment, Sermons was the recipient of UCLA's next cornerback offer, and the Bruins had been one of the schools he was strongly considering. That led to a commitment in late October to the Bruins, and a much-needed verbal as UCLA continues to strengthen their secondary in the last two classes. The brother of former USC running back Rodney Sermons, Sermons preferred to stay on the West Coast. He's close friends with Price and the two of them are also close friends with elite 2010 receiver Kenneth Scott, and both are already putting in the work on him. Offered

Brandon Driver, 5-11, 170, Santa Rosa (Calif.) College. Driver is one of the few Juco's that isn't in the trenches that UCLA is seriously pursuing. He's got eight offers, including a couple from the Pac-10. UCLA hasn't offered yet, though they've been in regular contact with him and they're expected to have him in for an official visit the weekend of the USC game.

Nolan Washington, 5-11, 175, Burien (Wash.) Kennedy. Washington is the top defensive back in the Northwest and he's got seven offers, including Arizona State and Boise State recently. He's also got good grades, a 3.5, and Northwestern has offered as well. UCLA has been in regular contact with him and he likes the Bruins, though if the new coach at Washington comes in and offers him, he'll be tough to pull out of the Seattle area.

Other Cornerbacks Of Note:

J.R. McConico, 6-0, 170, Venice (Calif.)
Nat Berhe, 5-11, 170, Colton (Calif.)
Marcus Andrews, 6-0, 175, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw
J.B. Dock, 5-10, 175, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Sean Murray, 6-0, 175, Corona (Calif.) Santiago
Chris Hill, 5-10, 175, Carson (Calif.)
Bijon Samoodi, 5-8, 160, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Semaj Harris, 5-11, 180, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger

The Bruins signed three safeties last year but losing Moore to USC hurts because he was the lone pure safety they had a commitment from. Mascarenas is a gifted and versatile defensive back, but he probably is best suited to play cornerback in college. Expect UCLA to try to bring in at least one more safety in this class.

Alex Mascarenas, 5-11, 180, Mission Viejo (Calif.). COMMITTED. Mascarenas is an intriguing prospect because he could play corner or safety and probably prefers safety in college, where he says UCLA is planning to put him. But physically, he may be best geared to play cornerback He's been one of the best DBs in the Southland the past two years, earning all-CIF honors the past two seasons, including in 2006 when he was on the all-Pac5 team as the lone sophomore, the toughest division in the state. He is one of Orange County's top prospects in the class of 2009 and he's been one of the top receivers in the county, being a primary target for Cal-bound teammate Allan Bridgford. Mascarenas is another one of those solid "football players", who's kind of a jack-of-all-trades. Offered

Patrick Hall, 6-1, 185, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. If there has been one commit to USC that UCLA has constantly pursued, it's been Hall. He's been to games this fall, came to their camp and fall practice and UCLA has been by the St. Bonaventure campus. He's been difficult to get a read on, though, so its uncertain just how well UCLA is doing with him. He's had a big senior season, both at running back and on defense for the Seraphs. He's also related to Lorenzo Booker, whom Neuheisel pursued heavily when he was still at Washington, so there is some existing relationships there. UCLA would love to steal Hall, but we think he's sticking with the Trojans.. Offered

Lester White, 6-1.5, 205, Riverside (Calif.) J.W. North. Blessed with good size and speed, White has seven offers, including a few from the Pac-10, and UCLA is one of his top seven schools despite the Bruins not having offered. We know they have been showing interest in him though, having been by the school during the fall, but they're waiting on his transcripts and test scores. Could be the best safety in the Inland Empire. White has been invited to a couple of games, and attended a few, and the coaches love him. For White, it's all about the academics being in order.

Nathan Fellner, 6-0, 195, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West. Fellner committed to Washington during the summer, but with the looming coaching change in Seattle, is still keeping an eye on other options. Fellner has been invited to a handful of UCLA games, and attended the Oregon State game, and he's had serious interest in UCLA since last fall. Whether or not he gets an offer, remains to be seen. And he may very well end up sticking with the Huskies with a new coach. Still, he's one to keep an eye on as he keeps his options open until meeting the new Washington coach.

Brent Seals, 6-1, 190, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat. Seals has made no bones about his desire to get an offer from the Bruins, especially with Price and Bowens, his Amat teammates, having committed to UCLA. Seals was excellent at the Scout Combine in May then followed it up the next week with a great performance at the UCLA 1-Day Camp. His obstacle is that he's projected to play safety in college and he's only played linebacker in high school. And during the season, he's stayed at linebacker per his coaches request. But at the camps he attended, UCLA, Washington and Stanford, he worked with the safeties. A very good athlete and student, it wouldnt surprise us to see Seals end up with a UCLA offer down the line, and they'd be in great shape should they choose to. He's played very well this fall, especially in a narrow loss to Los Osos, where he sacked UCLA quarterback commit Richard Brehaut twice.

Other Safeties Of Note:

Anthony Carpenter, 6-1, 185, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Jabari Carr, 6-1, 180, San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove

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