Recruiting Reset: Defensive Prospects

UCLA has seven commitments from defensive players. They look to be set in the secondary, and could still use some more depth along the defensive line, while they wait for a couple of linebackers to decide...

As UCLA heads into the dead period, they cranked up recruiting in the past few weeks. Several more offers have gone out in the past few weeks.

As of now, UCLA has 18 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, or even the full 25, since players always leave the program for a myriad of reasons, and a few could be candidates to do so. With Adam Heater leaving the team, one opened up already.

To date, UCLA has 18 commitments, eleven being on offense, so they're close to filling their quota, while waiting for others to make their decision. In the case of Brehaut, Presley and Taylor, each are enrolling early and count against last year's class, but are still obviously a part of the 85-class limit. Two of UCLA's defensive commits were selected to the Offense-Defense All-American Game. 

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.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:
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 did offer is committed to Cal. It may be at the point that the defensive tackle well has dried up for the Class of 2009, which makes getting one in 2010 crucial.  Fortunately, there are quite a few junior defensive tackles that are beginning to emerge, and with early interest in UCLA. 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 month, so now his verbal is a soft one.  He's scheduled to take an official visit in January.  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 mentioned his interest in the Bruins, talking about taking a trip officially to Westwood, but of late, he's barely mentiond the Bruins. Colorado, Nebraska and Washington State have all gotten visits from Heimuli, who is the top defensive tackle prospect in the West region. 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 but it's not too promising. Offered

Other Defensive Tackles Of Note:

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

DEFENSIVE ENDS:
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 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 committed 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 take visits to each of them in January.  We're hearing that Tepa's family would like for him to stay close to home, which plays into UCLA's favor, but Oregon is also a heavy factor in this race. Offered

Billy Sanders, 6-4, 235, Coeur d'Alene (Ida.) Lake City. A commit to Miami, Sanders has been staying in frequent contact with the UCLA coaches ever since verballing. He is originally from Arizona, but moved to Idaho for his senior season. Since then, he's been to UCLA games, and practices, and despite his verbal to the Hurricanes, seems to be open to being recruited and pursued by the Bruin staff. He's officially visiting UCLA in January. Sanders could also end up playing defensive end in college, so we're listing him on both offense and defense. 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 ten offers, with UCLA being one of them, 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 this one is down to Texas and USC, with Cal third, and he'll be deciding soon. Offered

Other Defensive Ends Of Note:

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

LINEBACKERS:
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 in November.  He'll visit Stanford, USC and BYU in January. We'd be surprised if he ended up somewhere besides USC or BYU. 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 still in the mix with Colorado (where he's officially visited), Arizona State and BYU among others. Van Noy is planning to make an official visit out to Westwood in January. BYU is the team to beat here, though, as Van Noy is LDS and Arizona State is probably running second. Offered

Marquis Simmons, 6-2, 225, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Simmons was the first commit to USC in the Class of 2009, committing in the spring of 2007.  While it's a longshot that he'd switch his commitment, especially given the family history with USC, Simmons is possibly taking a visit in early January to UCLA.  Still, we've heard in the last week that he's solidified his commitment to USC, as he's tight with linebackers coach Ken Norton, and it would be a surprise if he switched. Offered

Other Linebackers Of Note:

Barkevious Mingo, 6-5, 210, West Monroe (La.) Offered
Boseko Lokombo, 6-3, 215, Vancouver (B.C.) Offered
Jordan Barrett, 6-3, 225, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
Robert Franco, 6-0, 225, San Pedro (Calif.)
Tim Tucker, 6-2, 230, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne
Maurice Cox, 5-11, 220, Riverside (Calif.) North
Nick Bruce, 6-1, 210, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft
 

CORNERBACKS:
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

Marlon Pollard, 6-0, 170, San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon. Pollard was a onetime commit to UCLA, who switched his verbal to Notre Dame in the summer.  While we'd be surprised if he switched back to UCLA, there have been some rumblings that he'll at least take an official visit to UCLA in January.  UCLA went to see him play this fall and seems like they're still interested in the Offense-Defense All-American, despite him decommitting.  Offered.

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
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

SAFETIES:
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

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.

Stanjarivus McKay, 6-2, 205, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.  Like many Poly defensive backs before him, McKay had to wait patiently until his senior year to make a name for himself, and he has.  UCLA likes him a lot, and the feeling is mutual and there is talk that if UCLA does offer, it could be as a greyshirt, an idea that McKay seems to be open to.  He's already visited Colorado, who's offered, and he's planning to visit Hawaii as well in January.  UCLA is waiting for a new SAT score, and he took it earlier this month.

Aulola Tonga, 6-3, 195, Kahuku (Hawaii)  Tonga is a new name to the list and the rangy safety is another of the Hawaii products UCLA seems to be targeting.  He doesn't have an offer yet, but he'll be visiting UCLA in January, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them offer him on the visit.  He's got an offer from Hawaii, but he's gotten tight with some of the other UCLA commits from Hawaii.

Other Safeties Of Note:

Brent Seals, 6-1, 190, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat
Nathan Fellner, 6-0, 195, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West
Anthony Carpenter, 6-1, 185, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Jabari Carr, 6-1, 180, San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove


Bruin Report Online Top Stories