Down-to-the-Wire Recruiting Update

There are only a few days left before the dead period, so UCLA is frantically traveling the country visiting prospects, and will also host some official visits this weekend. Check out how UCLA is doing with the remaining prospects on their board -- guys like Xavier Su'a-Filo, Manti Te'o, Stan Hasiak and Randall Carroll...

UCLA fans have been asking about what would happen if all of the recruits UCLA is still pursuing would want to come.

UCLA would take all of them and work out the scholarship situation later.

As of right now, I'm hearing the primary focus is on these remaining prospects:

Xavier Su'a-Filo, the #3-ranked OG from Provo (Utah) Timpview
Manti Te'o, the #1-ranked LB from Honolulu (Haw.) Punahou
Stan Hasiak, the #9-ranked OT from Kapolei (Haw.) High
Randall Carroll, the #13-ranked WR from Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral
Joel Gray, the #17-ranked OT from Lewisville (Tex.) Hebron
Damien Thigpen, the #33-ranked RB from Manassas (Virg.) Stonewall Jackson
Iuta Tepa, the #40-ranked DE from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly

Tepa and Thigpen are visiting UCLA this weekend, and it's expected that Tepa will verbally commit over the next two days.

Thigpen, who is verbally committed to Tennessee, might not have a scholarship offer from the Volunteers anymore. New Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has indicated that Thigpen might not be "the right fit" for the Volunteers now.

There have been questions about how Thigpen would fit into the scheme of things at UCLA. When you have the type of speed that Thigpen has (he actually recorded a 4.34 40-yard dash and is a nationally-ranked sprinter), there are numerous things you can do with him. He would get a first look at running back, and probably as a punt returner. Dalton Hilliard, the running back prospect from Honolulu (Haw.) Punahou, would also get a look at running back, but also could project as a defensive back on the college level.

Bottom line, when you have guys who can play, you'll find a position for them.

If Tennessee is, indeed, out of the picture for Thigpen, sources told us that it could be Notre Dame or UCLA. Much will depend on his official visit to UCLA this weekend.

Yesterday we heard from a source in Utah that it was between UCLA and LSU for Su'a-Filo, but now we've heard that it's UCLA or BYU. Of course, there is a great deal of information and misinformation floating around out there, but it's safe to say that those three schools probably have the best shot at the talented offensive lineman. UCLA's Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow was in Su'a-Filo's house in the last couple of days.

We're hearing that Hasiak is just about totally up in the air right now about where he's going. Apparently he's very confused, and tired of the process. We're told it could be Cal (where he's currently committed) or UCLA, and that Washington, where he visited last weekend, is out of the picture. Chow and UCLA offensive line coach Bob Palcic basically had an all-day visit with Hasiak Thursday.

USC-committed Randall Carroll, the speedy wide receiver, was thought to be leaning to UCLA, but that was before he took his official visit to USC last weekend. Reports have him now leaning to USC. UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuheisel was in the Carroll home Tuesday and the visit apparently went very well.

The recruitment of Manti Te'o is a glorious battle between UCLA, USC and Notre Dame. UCLA has made up considerable ground, and there are some that think UCLA has a good chance. Most close to the situation feel it's either USC or Notre Dame. UCLA coaches have been in Hawaii constantly in the last week (Chow two times) wooing Te'o. The word is that it's helping that his teammate and lifelong friend, Roby Toma, is committed to UCLA. The in-home visit earlier this week reportedly went very well, with Chow being an alumnus of Punahou and a Mormon, like Te'o, really benefitting UCLA. We also heard from a source close to Te'o that a recent in-home visit with USC coaches didn't go well. USC will try to win over Te'o on his official visit to USC this weekend. UCLA will be hoping that the visit turns him off and Te'o feels that he's more of a UCLA type of kid.

UCLA is still very involved with Joel Gray, the big OL prospect from Texas. UCLA assistant Frank Gansz was in Texas for an in-home visit with the Grays Thursday.

Neuheisel, who has been constantly on the road, was at the UCLA basketball game Thursday night with his sons. He was there to schmooze some high school junior prospects that were at the game, which included the talented, young contingent from Los Angeles Crenshaw, specifically elite linebacker talent Hayes Pullard. Pullard and the Crenshaw players were sitting with Crenshaw alumnus Brian Price. Neuheisel will be in the home of committed safety Stanjarivus McKay today. He'll then, of course, be on campus for the official visits.

Besides Tepa and Thigpen, three other recruits will be on campus for official visits – WR Jerry Rice, Jr., DE Sullivan Grosz, and LB Robert Franco. All three are more than likely walk-on candidates.

Signing Day is, of course, next Wednesday, and the dead period starts Monday. So expect reports of frantic in-home visits and recruit vacillations over the weekend before coaches have to shut it down Monday.

It's expected that Su'a-Filo, Hasiak, Te'o, Carroll and Gray will be Signing Day decisions, which will make for an interesting Wednesday.

We've heard that all of the high school players committed to UCLA have been admitted academically. In fact, all of the recruits UCLA is still recruiting, including Carroll, have been admitted.

The two junior college players that haven't been admitted yet – OL/DL Eddie Williams and OL Shawn Johnson – will have to continue to do work during the summer to be admitted by fall.

It's one of Neuheisel's great accomplishments since being at UCLA, that he's been able to get some less-accomplished student athletes admitted academically. From what we've heard, Neuheisel's staff has done extensive background work before presenting a recruit to the academic committee, which has vastly helped their chances of being admitted. Neuheisel's task, now, will be to keep all of his current and incoming players in good academic standing at UCLA so that the academic committee continues to allow him to bring in the type of players he wants.

Fans shouldn't be too disappointed if UCLA, in fact, gets shut out on Signing Day. Remember, UCLA is recruiting off a 4-8 season, and it's remarkable that the Bruins are this involved with so many elite recruits up until the end.


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