Recruiting Reset: Defense

With nine commitments already, UCLA is doing pretty well in recruiting the defensive side of the ball. Now, it's going after the big fish to finish off defensive recruiting for 2010, guys like Hayes Pullard, Josh Shirley and George Uko...

UCLA currently has 15 commitments, with nine on the defensive side of the ball.  They'll have around 20 scholarships available after this year, but with attrition, guys leaving after being passed on the depth chart, or in the case of Brian Price, who could potentially bolt for the NFL Draft, they could end up out giving the full allotment of 25. 

Here is a look at the defensive recruits UCLA has a commitment from and those they are still targeting.

Defensive Tackles

As usual, UCLA is in the market for defensive tackles, so it's not surprised they've offered a number of them, and from all over the country as well as in their own backyard.

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. We saw Moore earlier this season against Sacramento Grant and he was disruptive, with two sacks and two tackles for loss against a very good Grant line. 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's played in the past for the Tigers, but he also has the size to grow into a defensive tackle, where he likely projects in college and where he played when we saw him play last month.  Flowers can be disruptive and has a nice frame. 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 in the West, after starring at the Combine in Los Angeles. Uko has offers from around the country, and he's visited UCLA and Cal officially, with visits coming up to USC and Oregon, and it appears to be a four team race for him, with USC the team to beat.  UCLA made a big impression on him when he took an official visit earlier this month, but it wasn't enough to overtake USC. Offered.

Brandon Willis, 6-2.5, 255, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes. UCLA had been in the Willis sweepstakes for quite some time, but then he committed to Tennessee, interestingly enough, the weekend the Vols hosted UCLA.  But Willis has softened his verbal and visited North Carolina last weekend and will visit UCLA this weekend.  It may still be a longshot, as he's expected to stick with the Vols, but UCLA will try and wow him when he comes West this weekend. 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. He narrowed his choices down to ten schools, with UCLA on that list, and he's hinted that the Bruins could be getting an official visit.  So far, his only official visit has been to Oregon State.  Heimuli has been low-key throughout his recruitment.  He may announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Offered.

Kirifi Taula, 6-4, 275, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. Taula has a couple of Pac-10 offers and UCLA had him at the first day of their three day camp and Taula's performance there landed him a verbal offer from the Bruins which he was hopeful for. In September, the official offer from UCLA came in for Taula. He's been a star this fall for Servite, helping them to the Trinity League title and upping his stock even more.  He's considering UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State, and he's said before that the Bruins are his favorite.  He'll take his visits come the conclusion of the season. Offered.

Richard Ash, 6-4, 270, Pahokee (Fla.). Ash visited UCLA earlier this month and the trip reportedly went well, but he didn't have much post-trip glow, so it's uncertain how much of an impact that visit made.  He's visited West Virginia and UCLA officially, will visit Michigan this weekend and Rutgers next month and could make his fifth visit to South Florida. 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 attended UCLA's game against Kansas State earlier this year, and is planning an official visit post-season. 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 would like to visit UCLA at some point.  Still, Washington appears to be the favorite. Offered.

Other Defensive Tackles to Watch:
Beau Allen, 6-3, 292, Minnetonka (Minn.)
Brendan Tago, 6-2, 285, Palmdale (Calif.) Highland
Sani Fuimaono, 6-2, 260, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou

Defensive Ends

UCLA has gone a little more unconventional in its defensive end recruiting, still going after some key guys, like Powell, but landing verbals from a JC transfer and an out-of-state prospect while a couple of bigtime national guys are still keeping their interest level in the Bruins high.

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

Derrick Bryant, 6-4, 225, Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven. COMMITTED. Bryant made it pretty clear that he was planning to commit to a school outside the Midwest. In September, he visited UCLA and true to his word, he pulled the trigger and left the Midwest for the friendly confines of SoCal. Bryant was blown away on his trip and said he's not going to even take his other four trips because he's firm in his commitment. Offered.

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

Chris Martin, 6-4, 240, Aurora (Colo.) Grandview. Martin committed to Notre Dame on Signing Day, but after a couple of school changes, from New Jersey to Colorado, Martin's recruitment has picked up again and UCLA is in the mix for the elite pass-rusher. He's hinted at visiting UCLA, who was one of the first schools to offer him as a sophomore and visited Oklahoma already, with also possible trips to California and USC. Offered.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6-3, 235, Portland (Ore.) Douglas. One of the elite defenders in the Northwest, the Bruins are in the top seven for "Owa", along with Cal, USC, Nebraska, Florida, Oregon and Oregon State. It looked like he was set for Cal, but he seems to be completely wide open, and Florida has made a big push for him.  He's also keen to the idea of staying in-state.  UCLA had him in for an official visit when they played Washington, and Owa said it was his best trip to date. Offered.

Ego Ferguson, 6-4, 270, Chatham (Va.) Hargrave. UCLA is on the semi-short list for Ego, but is on there with several of the big heavyweights from the Southeast and Atlantic states. Still, the Bruins are trying with him. Offered.

Rykeem Yates, 6-2, 237, Fresno (Calif.) Edison. With two teammates already committed to the Bruins in Flowers and McDonald, Yates wouldn't mind at all being the third wheel in their class. Yates camped at UCLA and had a great spring and summer, and is off to a strong start this fall for the Tigers. Yates said the Bruins coaches want to see some senior film before deciding if they're going to offer.  We saw him last month and he was disruptive and between him and Flowers, appears to be the better prospect.

Chidera Uzo-Diribe, 6-4, 227, Corona (Calif.) Uzo-Diribe is committed to Colorado, doing so in September, but he's also still going to take official visits. Uzo-Diribe is very much interested in the Bruins, taking an unofficial visit to Westwood during the summer with James. He's a classic "senior film" guy, who's senior year will be crucial for him to land a Bruin offer.  He was supposed to visit UCLA this weekend, but that appears to be on hold.

Other Defensive Ends to Watch:
Everett Beed, 6-3, 225, Phelan (Calif.) Serrano
Leonard Rhodes 6-3, 230, Walnut (Calif.)


Aramide Olaniyan, 6-2, 200, Woodbury Forest (Va.). COMMITTED. Olaniyan is an intriguing prospect, an excellent student with serious on-field chops. Ranked as one of the top 10 outside backers nationally, Olaniyan was committed to Duke but in September decommitted.  He took an official visit earlier this month to UCLA and was blown away on the trip.  A week later, Olaniyan committed to the Bruins, giving UCLA another stellar player from Virginia. Offered.

Eric Kendricks, 6-1, 205, Fresno (Calif.) Hoover. COMMITTED.  The brother of current Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks and the son of former UCLA running back Marv Kendricks, the younger of the two is a versatile inside/outside backer who camped at UCLA during the summer and had serious interest in the Bruins.  UCLA offered him late in October and he committed to the Bruins earlier this month.  Offered.

Josh Shirley, 6-3, 220, Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser. Shirley is 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.  He's visited Washington and Arizona, and still may visit UCLA and USC officially.  He's planning to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Game. Offered.

Hayes Pullard, 6-1, 210, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Pullard is high on the Bruins as he is with schools like USC, Washington, Notre Dame and Florida, who have have offered him and are making a big push for his services. Pullard is the top 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 and arguably, their biggest target left outside of some D-Lineman. Offered.

Jordan Zumwalt, 6-3, 225, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison.  Zumwalt was very interested in UCLA during the spring, but didn't receive an offer at that time.  He committed to Stanford, but he's had a huge senior season for the top-ranked Chargers, and this month, both USC and UCLA have offered him.  We've heard if he gets admitted into Stanford, he'll head to the Farm, but if not, the two Los Angeles schools will battle it out for him. Offered.

Other Linebackers to Watch:
Dustin Elisara, 6-2, 225, Kapolei (Hawaii).
Ofa Fifita, 6-0, 200, San Bernardino (Calif.) Arroyo Valley
Luke Zelon, 6-3, 215, Santa Monica (Calif.)
Ofa Fifita, 6-0, 200, San Bernardino (Calif.) Arroyo Valley
Soma Vainuku, 6-0, 250, Eureka (Calif.)


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 (both his father and brother are safeties) into a safety, its likely he stays at corner. We saw him last month and he was playing corner for Edison, recording an interception, and is also a dangerous returner, returning a punt and a kick for a touchdown, with two more rushing touchdowns.  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, where he was offered after the 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 though lately he said it's even, but we're still hearing that UCLA is in the pole position for him.  He's visited Oregon State and Washington and will visit Arizona State and possibly UCLA officially. 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 and he had a good visit there this month. Still, UCLA is going to keep trying with him and hoping that Carnell Lake, the former Steeler and current Bruin corners coach, can sway him out West.  He visited UCLA officially in October and loved his trip. Offered.

Cornerbacks to Watch:
Derron Smith, 5-11, 170, Banning (Calif.)
Charles Garrett, 6-1, 190, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey
Brock Vereen, 5-11, 170, Valencia (Calif.)
Bene Benwikere, 5-10.5, 170, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Jonathan Mack, 5-10, 185, Colton (Calif.)


Tony Jefferson, 6-0, 197, Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake. COMMITTED. Jefferson was an early commit to Stanford but backed off that commitment and had offers from all over the nation,. UCLA showed a great deal of interest in the versatile Jefferson, who could play safety and running back as well. Then out of the blue in July, Jefferson pulled the trigger for UCLA, giving them an elite safety, at a position they've always recruited well at. The UnderArmour All-American has been to two of UCLA's home games.  Still, he's softened his commitment, and will visit Michigan this weekend and has already visited Arizona and Oklahoma. Offered.

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 UCLA and Stanford being two of his top seven, from out West. Thomas committed to UCLA at the beginning of summer without having even visited UCLA and he plans to do that officially in the next couple months.  He's been a bigtime player for OLSMP, helping them to the state semis, with three touchdowns in last week's game. 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. He will likely not visit UCLA or USC officially, but may take an additional unofficial visit to Westwood. Offered.

Erick Dargan, 6-0, 190, Pittsburg (Calif.). Like Riley, Dargan can play receiver, running back or safety. He was offered by UCLA in the early part of summer after coming to the 1-Day camp, and has double digit offers, but the Bruins are still in the race for arguably the top prospect in Northern California in the class of 2010.  Dargan has missed much of his senior year with a torn MCL, so he may end up redshirting wherever he ends up next year. 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 have the advantage.  UCLA appears to be on the outside looking in on Parker. 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.  Still, UCLA made his top five, which also included Arizona State, Arizona, USC and Notre Dame. Offered.

Other Safeties to Watch:
Lucky Radley, 5-10, 185, Agoura (Calif.)
Derrick Malone, 6-1, 210, Colton (Calif.).
Tre Sayles, 6-2, 210, Corona (Calif.) Santiago

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