Football Recruiting Reset: Defense

UCLA currently has six verbal commitments, five of them from defensive prospects. Even so, the Bruins will probably give out 6 to 7 more to defensive players. Here are the top defensive targets for UCLA heading into the season...

At the midway point of July, UCLA is sitting on six commitments, with five on defense, three on the line and two in the secondary. UCLA will probably give out maybe 11 or 12 scholarships to defensive players when the NLIs are signed in February.

Remember, also, this is a list in July, with UCLA coming off a 4-8 season. If UCLA has a successful season – even just a winning record – this list will drastically change by December. So, projecting UCLA's recruiting class from this list might be a bit premature.

Defensive Tackles

As usual, UCLA is in the market for defensive tackles, and it's generally a solid crop out west for 2010. A dozen defensive tackles with a Bruin offer are considering UCLA.

Julious Moore, 6-0, 255, Bellevue (Wash.). COMMITTED. Moore is built similarly to Brigham Harwell when Harwell was a senior. Moore had UCLA as one of his two favorites, along with hometown Washington, but when he visited Westwood for the Bruins' 1-Day Camp, Moore pulled the trigger and chose UCLA. Moore pound-for-pound is a tough-as-nails tackle and plays with a lot of nasty and is a two-way starter for one of the best programs in the country. Offered.

Wesley Flowers, 6-4, 250, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. COMMITTED. Flowers showed up for the first day of UCLA's 3-Day Camp and did so well that he earned a UCLA offer. Two days later, Flowers committed to the Bruins, becoming the second Edison player to commit to UCLA. Flowers can play defensive end, where he'll likely play this fall for the Tigers, but he also has the size to grow into a defensive tackle, where he likely projects in college. Offered.

Brandon Willis, 6-4, 255, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes. Willis just recently named a final five, and to the delight of UCLA's defensive line coach, the Bruins made the list for the #4 defensive tackle in the country. In fact, Willis also had Cal in his final five, so it's apparent that leaving the Southeast is a very legitimate possibility for him. Florida State, North Carolina and Tennessee are also in the final five, and UCLA hopes that a visit can convince him to go from South Carolina to Southern California. Offered.

George Uko, 6-4, 295, Chino (Calif.) Don Lugo. Uko is a guy who's been much discussed for the past few months. It took him showing up and dominating in a short time span at the UCLA 1-Day Camp for him to get an offer. He did the same thing at USC's camp, and he's become arguably the top defensive tackle prospect in the West, after starring at the Combine in Los Angeles. Uko also has offers from Oregon, Tennessee and Oklahoma, among others, with Oregon getting an unofficial visit out of him in June, and the Ducks making a favorable impression on him. Uko's recruitment will be an interesting one to watch. Offered.

Ricky Heimuli 6-4, 285, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. Heimuli has offers from all over the country, including the entire Pac-10. He has a connection to Norm Chow, and the Bruin staff has been in touch with him. He's an excellent student as well, making him even more appealing. But with the list of offers he's received, UCLA will have their work cut out for him, especially after USC offered him and he had a great showing and experience at their USC camp. Offered.

Kirifi Taula, 6-4, 275, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. Taula has a couple of Pac-10 offers, including one from UCLA. UCLA had him at the first day of their three-day camp and Taula's performance landed him an offer from the Bruins. Taula has said on numerous occasions he'd like to stay close to home, and unless USC offers, the Bruins will be in the driver's seat. Offered.

Sealii Epanesa, 6-2, 300, Honolulu (Hawaii) Iolani. In UCLA's renewed efforts to make an impact on the Islands, they found this mammoth defensive tackle. Epanesa helped lead Ioalani to a state title in 2008. Offered.

Lawrence Lagafuaina, 6-2, 310, Aiea (Hawaii). UCLA is one of five schools who have offered Lagafuaina. Washington leads for him and he camped in Seattle this spring, but he said he wants to visit UCLA at some point. Offered.

Shane Pennix, 6-3, 256, El Cajon (Calif.) Valhalla. Pennix received one of his first offers from UCLA, and the Bruins are one of his two favorites, along with Arizona State. The Sun Devils may have an advantage, though, with Pennix's teammate, Peter Thomas, having committed to the Sun Devils. But Pennix doesn't seem to be in a rush to decide. He plays defensive end in high school, but projects to a DT on the next level. Offered.

Sharrif Floyd, 6-2, 305, Philadelphia (Penn.) Washington. Floyd has a UCLA offer and he initially expressed legitimate interest in them but recently he's rarely listed the Bruins in his group of favorites. Offered.

Cassius Marsh 6-4, 280, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian. UCLA made Marsh a priority and it's top target on the defensive line but Marsh committed to Cal in April. Then this spring he de-committed from the Bears, and while Marsh has Cal as his current leader, he's mentioning USC, Tennessee, Oklahoma and LSU as his primary schools of interest, with UCLA rarely being mentioned. Offered.

Other Defensive Tackles to Watch:

Brendon Tago, 6-2, 285, Palmdale (Calif.) Highland
Augafa Vaaluu, 6-2, 290, Downey (Calif.)
Sani Fuimaono, 6-2, 260, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou

Defensive Ends

Several of the top defensive ends in the West have already made commitments, in fact, three of the top four are committed, so the pickings have dwindled. Chris Martin is headed to Notre Dame, Bronson Kaufusi is committed to BYU and Curtis White is going to Oregon. Fortunately, UCLA should be decently stocked at defensive end, so there isn't the need there like there is at tackle.

Marquis Jackson, 6-4, 235, College of the Canyons (Calif.). COMMITTED. Jackson was a guy UCLA had a lot of interest in from the high school class of 2008, playing with current Bruins Milton Knox and Donovan Carter at Van Nuys Birmingham. He teamed with his brother, Malik, now at USC, to make one of the best defensive end duos around. Jackson was a non-qualifier out of high school and went the JC route, where he was a JC All-American at Canyons. UCLA offered him in hopes he'll get the work done necessary. Jackson committed to the Bruins last week, and he's even hinted at sitting out the 2009 season for Canyons, but getting his A.A. so he can transfer in time for the spring of 2010 and have three years of eligibility. Offered.

Ronald Powell 6-4, 250, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Powell is the top defensive end uncommitted in west, boasting offers from all over. He's thought by many to be a heavy USC lean, getting offered last summer, and Florida has also made a big impression on him. UCLA has offered and is trying but they're on the outside looking in, even with his participation at their camp this summer. Offered.

Corey Miller, 6-3, 231, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes. One of the better defensive ends in the Southeast, Miller and teammate Brandon Willis have identical top fives, and the Bruins made the cut for Miller as well, and will be getting an official visit. Miller cited the possibility of early playing time as a reason that the Bruins are on his list. Offered.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6-3, 235, Portland (Ore.) Douglas. One of the elite defenders in the Northwest, the Bruins made the final five for "Owa," along with Cal, USC, Florida and Oregon State. The Gators, though, have been the one constant and they could be the team to beat for him. Offered.

Daniel Godkin, 6-4, 220, Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde. Godkin has four offers but said that UCLA is one of the offers he's the most hopeful to land. He's one of the best pass-rushers in Nevada, and UCLA just landed that state's best end a year ago in Keenan Graham. Godkin said UCLA has told him that they'll be watching his first few games this fall.

Hroniss Grasu, 6-3, 245, Encino (Calif.) Crespi. Grasu is an excellent two-way lineman, he can play either defensive end or offensive guard. He attended UCLA's Junior Day. Grasu has been a two-time all state pick on both sides of the ball for Crespi. He likes UCLA a lot too, and camped there this summer. He's gotten three Pac-10 offers, two as an offensive lineman and one as a defensive lineman.

Other Defensive Ends to Watch:

Andrew Hudson, 6-3, 212, Redlands (Calif.) East Valley
Tony Washington, 6-4, 210, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos
Leonard Rhodes 6-3, 230, Walnut (Calif.)
Xavier Cooper, 6-4, 268, Tacoma (Wash.) Wilson


Josh Shirley, 6-3, 220, Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser. Shirley is fast becoming one of the elite defensive prospects in the West in this class and the attention is well-deserved, as he's one of the premier pass-rushers in the state. Shirley was offered as a hybrid end/linebacker, able to play three downs and get after the quarterback. UCLA is one of the Bruins' primary targets and he camped at UCLA in the spring, working as a linebacker. The Bruins are thought to be his leader. Offered.

Hayes Pullard, 6-1, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Pullard is high on the Bruins as he is with schools like USC, Notre Dame and Florida, who have offered him and are making a big push for his services. Pullard is the top-ranked inside linebacker in the state and UCLA would love to get a commitment from him. He could also play running back. Pullard camped at UCLA for the 1-Day Camp. UCLA has traditionally recruited well at Crenshaw and they're hoping to continue that trend with Pullard, one of the first players they offered in this class. Offered.

V.J. Fehoko, 6-0, 225, Honolulu (Hawaii) Farrington. Fehoko is also very high on UCLA, having a longstanding family relationship with Norm Chow, while he has double-digit offers from all over the country. He's also has BYU pretty high on his list, being LDS. Offered.

Shaun Lewis, 6-1, 210, Sugar Land (Texas) Hightower. Lewis was hoping to take an unofficial visit to UCLA in June, and possibly camp there, but those plans got derailed. While he's getting a lot of attention from the schools in the Southwest, Lewis has offers from all over and told us in Vegas at the Badger/Scout 7on7 he has no problems leaving the Lone Star State for college. But UCLA is a longshot. Offered.

Dustin Elisara, 6-2, 225, Kapolei (Hawaii). UCLA was one of the first schools to offer Elisara and the Bruins are hoping his relationship with good friend and former teammate (and current Bruin freshman) Stan Hasiak works into their favor. Elisara has a half-dozen offers, with five of them from the Pac-10, and the Bruins are right there in the mix. Offered.

Victor Burnett, 6-0, 225, Culver City (Calif.). Burnett was one of the more prolific tacklers in California this past season, and he has a slew of offers, including from Cal and Oklahoma, but he's still very interested in the Bruins, being good friends with freshman Antwon Moutra, who he played with at Culver City. Burnett camped at UCLA in June and UCLA said they'd be watching him this fall.

Other Linebackers to Watch:

Ofa Fifita, 6-0, 200, San Bernardino (Calif.) Arroyo Valley
Cody Galea, 6-3, 230, Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin
Eric Kendricks, 6-1, 205, Fresno (Calif.) Hoover
Soma Vainuku, 6-0, 250, Eureka (Calif.)
Brent Williams, 6-4, 200, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft
Alani Fua, 6-4, 195, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
Dylan Davis, 6-0, 200, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure


Tevin McDonald, 5-11, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. COMMITTED. McDonald has good bloodlines, his dad was a six-time NFL Pro Bowler and his brother was an all-American who's a freshman at USC now. McDonald camped at UCLA at the 1-Day Camp and was offered by the Bruins as a cornerback, and while he could conceivably still be growing into a safety (both his father and brother are safeties), it's likely he stays at corner. Offered.

Shaquille Richardson, 6-1, 180, Los Alamitos (Calif.). Few players upped their stock this spring like Richardson, who was a standout at the Los Angeles Combine and again at UCLA's 1-Day Camp. Richardson did a slew of camps and shined at just about everyone. He and Paul Richardson are cousins, and the two of them could end up playing together in college. Richardson said he's wide open, but the Bruins are doing really well for him.Offered.

Cullen Christian, 6-1, 185, Pittsburgh (Penn.) Penn Hills. The big, physical Christian has offers from throughout the country but, interestingly, UCLA is the only school in the West who's made his favorites. While he's reportedly a lean to Michigan, hometown Pittsburgh is also putting in the work. Still, UCLA is going to keep trying with him. Offered.

Joshua Shaw, 6-2, 190, Palmdale (Calif.). Shaw camped at UCLA for its 1-Day Camp, and got an offer from the Bruins, but it may be a case of too little, too late. Shaw was offered before that by Oklahoma, Notre Dame and USC, and those three schools, plus Ohio State, who recently offered, are receiving considerable attention from him, as is Washington. Offered.

Keanu Nelson, 6-0, 180, Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino. Nelson is the best corner in Arizona and he's attracting interest from all over, with a dozen offers. He also has excellent grades, with Stanford and Vanderbilt also having offered him. Offered.

Troy Hill, 5-11, 165, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. Hill is one of the better cover corners in California, and has been a key in the Seraphs' two-time state championship squad. Hill has an offer from a handful of schools but has high interest in UCLA. He's got some work to do academically, but the interest is there.

Other Cornerbacks to Watch:

Demetrius Wright, 6-1, 195, Corona (Calif.)
Derron Smith, 5-11, 170, Banning (Calif.)
Bene Benwikere, 5-10.5, 170, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Joshua Mitchell, 5-9, 165, Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt
Jonathan Mack, 5-10, 185, Colton (Calif.)


Earnest Thomas, 6-2, 195, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary Prep. COMMITTED. Thomas' offers spread from the east coast to the southeast to out West, with offers from the likes of Michigan, Penn State and Stanford. Thomas committed to UCLA at the beginning of this month without having even visited UCLA and he plans to do that officially in the fall. Getting a commitment from Thomas is considered a nice coup, snagging a highly-recruited prospect from the Midwest. Offered.

Dietrich Riley, 6-1, 195, La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis. Riley is an athlete who can play receiver, running back or safety. He was offered by UCLA last summer, but he's been offered by schools all over the country and he will be patient in choosing a school. Lately, he's talked more and more about playing out of state, but USC has been the one local school getting the most attention from him. Riley probably projects best to safety in college, though he said UCLA has told him he could play running back in college. Offered.

Sean Parker, 6-0 190, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne. Parker is the top defensive back in the West, his offer list a who's-who of college football. The entire Pac-10 has offered, as has Notre Dame, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma among others. Parker has long said he's interested in playing out of state, but if he stays close to home, USC will probably have the advantage. Offered.

Shaydon Akuna, 6-3, 209, Kapolei (Hawaii). Like his teammate Elisara, Akuna's first offers included one from UCLA, and the Bruins have a natural advantage with Stan Hasiak knowing Akuna very well. With his size, outside linebacker isn't out of the question either. Offered

Dion Bailey, 6-1, 195, Lakewood (Calif.). The top defensive player on a talented Lancers squad, Bailey's stock has shot through the roof this spring, first starting with an excellent performance in Las Vegas at the Badger/Scout 7on7 and continuing throughout. He has offers from Notre Dame and Oklahoma and local offers from UCLA and USC. If teammate Jesse Scroggins commits to USC, as expected, look for Bailey to follow suit. Offered.

Tony Jefferson, 6-0, 197, Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake. Jefferson was an early commit to Stanford but has backed off that commitment and has offers from all over the nation. UCLA is showing a great deal of interest in the versatile Jefferson, who could play safety and running back as well. Jefferson keeps mentioning UCLA as a program he's interested in, but this appears to be a USC-Florida battle. Offered.

Marquis Flowers, 6-3, 195, Goodyear (Ariz.) Millennium. Flowers has offers from much of the Pac-10 as well as schools like Michigan, Nebraska and Cal, but Arizona appears to be the leader in this one. Offered.

Other Safeties to Watch:

Lucky Radley, 5-10, 185, Agoura (Calif.)
Charles Garrett, 6-1, 190, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey
Derrick Malone, 6-1, 210, Colton (Calif.).
Tre Sayles, 6-2, 210, Corona (Calif.) Santiago

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