Drama Builds in Football Recruiting

There are only 9 days left until Signing Day and, of course, there is quite a bit of recruiting drama going on down to the wire. Here's the latest on UCLA's remaining targets, including guys like Cassius Marsh, Hayes Pullard and Ricky Heimuli...

Hayes Pullard, the Los Angeles Crenshaw linebacker, took his official visit to UCLA this past weekend. From what we've heard from sources at Crenshaw, Pullard intends to commit to UCLA, but he wants to wait to announce on a TV show on Signing Day, so he can pick the hat.

We're hearing more and more from various sources close to situation that Anthony Jefferson, the athlete from Los Angeles Cathedral, will commit to UCLA. Jefferson took his last official visit – to Arizona – this past weekend. We'll have a story about his impressions of that visit and where he says his recruitment stands later today.

Cassius Marsh, the defensive tackle from Westlake Village Oaks Christian, has also indicated to sources that he's going to UCLA. USC is trying to make a late push for Marsh, who is verbally committed to LSU, but we're hearing that Marsh doesn't have much interest in USC.

UCLA is definitely showing interest in JC defensive tackle Deon Goggins. Goggins just took an official visit to Washington State this last weekend, but the word is UCLA just got his transcripts and is going through the process to see if he is academically eligible for UCLA. If his academic profile is promising, he could take an official visit to UCLA sometime in the next week. The thought is that Goggins would be able to come in and immediately play next season, a year when UCLA desperately needs help at defensive tackle.

As we had reported, UCLA-committed defensive tackle Julious Moore, from Bellevue (Wash.) High, will probably not get by UCLA admissions, and the plan is for him to grayshirt, which means that he'll enroll later when he's academically ready. UCLA really wants Moore, the problem is that other schools – like Oregon, Washington and Washington State – will make pitches to him that he could get enrolled immediately into their schools.

UCLA is looking very good for Ricky Heimuli, the defensive tackle prospect from Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. Heimuli did take an official visit to Utah this last weekend, which was a bit worrisome for UCLA. He intends to take his Mormon mission after one year of college football, similar to another Utah Bruin, Xavier Su'a-Filo. Norm Chow is recruiting Heimuli and, in fact, we're hearing that the example UCLA set with Su'a-Filo of allowing a player to go on his Mission after a year has had a big impact on Heimuli, as well as Chow's recruitment. It's believed that, if Heimuli came to UCLA, he and Marsh are strong and physically developed enough that they would be able to play as true freshmen, and get quite a bit of playing time. The Su'a-Filo model, of playing as a freshman and then taking his Mission, is appealing to Heimuli.

Sealii Epenesa, the Honolulu (Haw.) Iolani defensive tackle, has been on a whirlwind tour of official visits. He started with UCLA last weekend, then went straight to Baylor and then finished off his mainland trip with a visit to Oregon State. We're hearing that UCLA leads significantly, but there is a connection at Oregon State with his high school coach that is helping the Beavers.

UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuhisel had an in-home visit with Jordan Zumwalt, the linebacker from Huntington Beach Edison, late last week that reportedly when very well. USC is now out of it for Zumwalt and it's down to Stanford and the Bruins. It's a classic UCLA-Stanford battle, with the Stanford academics appealing to the family, but UCLA's combination of academics, the chance at early playing time and Neuheisel's making a strong case. Since Zumwalt was officially admitted to Stanford a week ago it's thought that the Cardinal lead for him, but some sources close to the recruitment feel that UCLA is gaining ground every day.

While publicly Josh Shirley, the linebacker from Fontana Kaiser, and UCLA look to have gone their separate ways, it's not necessarily the case. Shirley is saying he's down to USC (where he visited last weekend), Miami, Arizona and Washington, and it's thought he's leaning to USC. We can't reveal too much about where it stands with UCLA and Shirley, but if some things happen in the next week there is a possibility that Shirley could be a late surprise. Again, we're not saying it's likely, just that there's a chance.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, the defensive end from Portland (Ore.) Douglas, took his last official visit this last weekend, to Nebraska. It was believed UCLA was the leader for Owa, but some anti-UCLA recruiting has chipped away at that. Before last week there were rumors it was a two-team race, with some saying it was between Oregon and Nebraska, while another source said it was clearly between UCLA and Oregon. Owa's recruitment is definitely one of the bigger dramas left on UCLA's board.

Erick Dargan, the safety prospect from Pittsburg (Calif.) High, is said to be down to UCLA and Oregon, with the Ducks probably having the edge.

The rumor is that Dietrich Riley, the safety prospect from La Canada St. Francis, might not sign an NLI in February. Riley has been a long-time USC lean, and he just took an official visit to LSU and still plans to visit USC this weekend. The theory behind not signing an NLI is to see what happens with USC and its impending NCAA sanctions. If this is true, we'll see how Riley feels after his official visit to USC, because you can bet the Trojan staff will do a pretty good job of dissuading him from not signing an NLI. After his official visit to UCLA, Riley then also visited unofficially the next weekend and it's thought that if he's still concerned about USC's sanctions, he'll go to UCLA.

The other official visitor this weekend was Phillip Ruhl, a linebacker from Stockton Lincoln. Ruhl came to UCLA's summer camp, and is a good-sized propect. He also has visited Stanford. UCLA is looking at him as a walk-on.

We've heard that, along with Moore, that Rykeem Yates could be potential grayshirt candidates. That would mean UCLA could give out 8-10 more scholarships. If, miraculously, UCLA had a chance to get everyone mentioned in this report with a UCLA offer they would take them all.

UCLA, in fact, is still working hard with some other prospects, and is attempting to have at least a couple of official visitors this weekend. It's not completely certain, but some of the names mentioned that could potentially visit would be surprises.

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