All right. Here we go folks. At this point I think we have set up the stage pretty well for another signing day of festivities in Westwood. Jon Gold from the Daily News has a pretty good piece up today about Rick Neuheisel changing the culture of "national signing day" in Westwood. This day wasn't that big of a deal during the reign of previous head coach. Even during the Bob Toledo era, signing day reached its peak in 1999 when UCLA signed it's last top-5 class in the country. That has changed a lot in just last couple of years.
Last year it was absolutely amazing when the Bruins closed on a glorious note. It is going to be very interesting to see how it all shapes up today. Interestingly just like last year, the Bruins are beginning the day with the news of a LB target going elsewhere. Last year it was Manti Te'o heading to Notre Dame, this year it is Hayes Pullard pulling the trigger for Hello Kiffin's Southern Cal. It is all good though considering the class CRN has already lined up and the other recruits we are going to be waiting to hear from today. From the Daily News:
The Bruins have strong verbal commitments from top prospects including Oaks Christian of Westlake Village's Malcolm Jones and Loyola of Los Angeles' Anthony Barr, but closing strong hadn't been a hallmark until recently. Now, in addition to Riley, Jefferson and Heimuli, UCLA is waiting on word from St. Bonaventure of Ventura center Giovanni Di Poalo, Edison of Huntington Beach linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and Crenshaw linebacker Hayes Pullard.
That was from Gold, who quoting Brandon Huffman from Bruin Report Online, noted how the recruiting tide for UCLA shifted after the signing of class of 2008:
"Really the class of '08 would be the one that you would say that," Huffman said. "You've got your starting quarterback from there, Nelson Rosario, Cory Harkey, Jeff Baca, Rahim Moore, eight or nine starters. This is a byproduct of the last two classes. Elite players can and will pick UCLA. If they can land Owa and five of these guys (today), then this class, defensively is as good a class as they've ever had."
The Owa he refers to is Douglass High of Portland, Ore., defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Scout.com's eighth-rated defensive end. Odighizuwa said late last week he was completely torn between UCLA, Oregon State and Nebraska.
He would be considered a major coup for the coaching staff, which covets his speed-rush capabilities, although they've been working diligently on him for months.
"Things have changed dramatically in terms of players, the talent level and the aggressiveness in which they're recruiting them," Huffman said. "It really shifted. They offered Akeem Ayers and Brian Price, and that was UCLA's first victory.
Well we will see if the coaches can reel in Owa. It is going to be tough. Once again here are our remaining targets including Owa:
- Ricky Heimuli (DT)- 9:30 am PST, ESPNU
- Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE)- 11:30 am, ESPNU
- Anthony Jefferson (ATH)- 12:00 pm, FS Prime Ticket
- Dietrich Riley (ATH)- 1:30 pm, ESPNU
Giovanni Di Poalo (C) - Via Fax
- Jordan Zumwalt (LB) - (announced for Bruins at 8:00 am press conference) Via Fax
Personally I will be ecstatic if we can get from the remaining targets a combination of Owa or Heimuli and couple of more.
It looks like we are not going to be the only ones waiting on pins and needles for today's announcements. Ramona Shellburne has a great piece on Malcolm Jones - the Gatorade National POY - who has been methodically helping out UCLA's recruiting efforts from his standpoint:
"I talk to all the guys," he said of other recruits. "We talk to each other on Facebook, text, call. I don't want to force people to come, I just let them know what a great opportunity it is."
So far, Jones said, he has met, talked to and helped persuade to become Bruins: offensive lineman Chris Ward (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei); defensive back Shaquille Richardson (Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos); running back Jordon James (Corona, Calif./Corona); and his own Oaks Christian teammate, defensive tackle Cassius Marsh.
Jones says he's still working on prized, still-uncommitted recruits such as defensive back Dietrich Riley (La Canada, Calif./St. Francis) and defensive tackle Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Portland, Ore./Douglas).
"I'm just looking out, calling them, seeing how strong their interest is and telling them some solid facts," Jones said. "Because once I decided to go there, I never thought twice about it."
Hopefully Jones' s effort works today on few of the remaining guys still on board.
As for today goes, as mentioned yesterday Morgan Center is going to be sending out lot of info via their official site and twitter accounts. Over here, Ryan will be throwing up a post around 9:00 am PST, which will serve as an open thread heading into first announcement (Heimuli) of the day. From there on we will be updating that post or start new ones as necessary. Don't forget Ryan and P are going to be doing a podcast later tonight which should also be a ton of fun.
Just think about the fun and excitement Rick Neuheisel has injected into UCLA football in just two years. On a day like this it might worth it just pause for a minute and reflect on that to have a total perspective as the micro events fold throughout the day. On that note, let's get this party started.
UPDATE (N): Per the OCR Zumwalt is going to announce around 8:00 am PST. GO BRUINS.
UPDATE II (N): 7 LOIs are already in per UCLA Athletics:
LB Aremide Olaniyan, DL Derrick Bryant, OL Kody Innes, RB Malcolm Jones, K Kip S, LB Eric Kendricks and DB Shaquille Richardson
Welcome to Westwood boys. GO BRUINS.
UPDATE III (N): CRN showing up to work this am:
Get it done coach! GO BRUINS.
UPDATE IV (N): First bomb explodes for the Bruins. Jordan Zumwalt is a Bruin!!!! GO BRUINS.
UPDATE V (N): The number of LOI is now at 10 with Jordon James, Anthony Barr and Chris Ward. Welcome boys. GO BRUINS.
UPDATE VI (N). Now conflicting reports coming out re. Zumwalt. GO BRUINS.
UPDATE VII (N): Looks like Zumwalt is indeed a Bruin. If this holds up the OC Register "Blog" reporter should get canned for his epic FAIL. GO BRUINS.
UPDATE VIII (N): The clowns from the OC Register have backtracked. They should be assigned to the "Classified" beat ir something. Zumwalt is a Bruin. We can all celebrate again.
UPDATE IX (N): More LOIs are in. DL Cassius Marsh and DL Wesley Flowers are Bruins. OL Wade Yandall has signed a grant-in-aid. He will enroll this Spring and participate in Spring Practice. Again welcome to Westwood boys. GO BRUINS.