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Recruting Class Shaping Up

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Signing day is coming up on Hump Day. While here on BN we are basking in the glow of Telemachus, our latest signee, CRN and his crew continue to pick up more good news. Earlier today Dorsey High running back Jonathan Franklin solidified his commitment to UCLA. Now it sounds like we are closing in on Hamani Stevens. Dohn is reporting (again he is good at bringing us information, the problem many have with him is his ability to offer reality based commentary/analysis) that he is going to send in his LOI to UCLA, but we haven't heard from Stevens himself yet.

As of right now Bruins have only 3 soft verbals left with good shots at holding on to Jones and Knox. And it looks Bruins may be on the verge of getting some good news on the Knox front as well. From Perelman's blog in LAT:

Information received today indicates that Parade All-American running back Milton Knox of Birmingham High School is going to sign with UCLA, even though he took a trip to Notre Dame in late January.

Also, the Bruins are in a strong position on two late additions, four-star center Hamani Stevens (6-4, 290) of Hemet (Rivals.com’s No. 2 center in the nation) and Crespi’s three-star quarterback Kevin Prince. That would bring the Bruin signing total to 25.
Kevin Prince would be an interesting add to this class. Dohn says he is still deciding between UCLA and Washington as he had committed to Huskies earlier in the recruiting season. Again we will wait till we get the confirmation.

As far as Kevan Walker as concerned, I think I understand some of the reasons for him considering another school besides UCLA. I don't think it is unreasonable for a kid to go somewhere else and excel where he won't be under his Dad's shadow. I think we should also take into account that if Coach Walker gets the job done in next 2-3 years, he could be in line for HCing opportunities with another program. So I don't blame the kid for looking elsewhere.

As for rest of the class shaping up, in today's LAT's report CRN credits the kids themselves for helping him and his staff during the transition process:
"We had a Saturday morning meeting in the team room, with all the moms and dads," Neuheisel said. "You learn body language, and people sit apart from each other because they are not comfortable.

"All these kids came in and sat right next to each other. I was going, 'This is really special.' It is going to be fun to watch the progression."

On Wednesday, about half of the Bruins recruiting class is expected to sign as a group outside a restaurant owned by the father of Jerry Johnson, a wide receiver from Venice High.

"A lot of us have played Pop Warner, either with each other or against each other," said Johnathan Franklin, a running back and defensive back from Dorsey High. "We are from the inner city, so we were already family. There was a lot of confusion when coach Dorrell was fired. But you understand you go through struggles and, in the end, you come together because you're family."

Neuheisel says he feels fortunate to have landed players who "weren't all independent contractors deciding this was the best place. It was a group that wanted to be together."

The core of the class, those living in Southern California, has built that relationship the last nine months at cookouts at the home of Anthony Dye, a defensive back from Corona Santiago High, or during gatherings at Johnson's restaurant.
Well this class is already getting lot of favorable reviews.

At this snap shot of time ranked number 8 per Scout.com:
8) UCLA
Headliners: Aundre Dean (RB), Rahim Moore (S)

What a roller coaster ride it has been for the Bruins the past few months. First, they put together a super recruiting class under the guidance of Karl Dorrell. Then he gets fired and things head south for UCLA. They hire Rick Neuheisel, who keeps defensive coordinator Dwayne Walker (a super recruiter and key to keeping this class together) and then they go out and get Norm Chow to run their offense. Things may have been dicey for a while but it all worked out great for the Bruins. Offensively five-star JuCo quarterback Kevin Craft is headed to UCLA, as is wide receivers Nelson Rosario, Jerry Johnson and Antwon Moutra. Aundre Dean (RB) just re-committed to the Bruins and he is a big time back from Texas. They are looking good on the other side of the ball with Rahim Moore (S) and E.J. Woods (S). The Bruins have solid linebackers with Patrick Larimore and Donovan Carter while Anthony Dye (CB) is one of the top cover guys in America. Up front, Damien Holmes (DE) is one of the country's finest pass rushing prospects. Jeff Locke could be a gem at punter and kicker. He is outstanding in both and may be the nation's top overall kicker.
And here is the review from Billy Tucker at ESPN.com:
Signing day storylines: Unfortunately, Karl Dorrell did not produce enough wins on the gridiron last fall with 20 returning starters to retain his job, but off the field, he was putting together quite a recruiting class for the Bruins. Comprised of four ESPN 150 members and six prospects with a Scouts Inc. grade of 80 or higher, Rick Neuheisel has to be pleased with the class he inherited in his return to Westwood.

The former UCLA coach and player's best recruiting job to date was retaining assistant coach DeWayne Walker during the coaching turnover. Most of the recruits we spoke with after Dorrell's firing boldly stated they would remain firm with their pledge if the Bruins' defensive coordinator was retained on staff.

While Dorrell left a great group of prospects in 2008, last year's smaller class was a bit disappointing and the roster shows many holes that need to be filled beyond what the Bruins hope to sign on February 6.

Top prospect: Aundre Dean (Katy, Texas) was a major land for the Bruins out of the state of Texas. For a taller running back Dean possesses great foot quickness and rare lateral mobility to make defenders miss. He will need to run with lower pad level in college, but this top-10 running back prospect shows good balance, explosiveness and burst between the tackles. In the open field he possesses the second gear and top-end speed needed to separate. The only question mark we have when projecting for the next level is durability from the hits he could be exposed to with his height and lack of great body tilt, though backs like Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden to squash that stereotype.

Class highlights: There is a promising offensive nucleus with Dean and quarterback Nick Crissman (Huntington Beach, Calif/Edison). Neuheisel has a good pedigree in grooming quarterbacks, and he could have a future gem in Crissman. The No. 10 quarterback has the frame, arm strength and polished tool at the high school level to blossom. The offensive class needed young depth at tight end and landed another top-10 positional prospect in Cory Harkey (Chino Hills, Calif.), a physically impressive athlete with great hands in traffic.

There are future voids at both defensive back and wide out, and although the Bruins brought in some quality depth at receiver, they lack an elite prospect with skills that safety E.J. Woods (Culver City, Calif/Crespi Carmelite) brings to the table. The No. 6 rated prospect at his position, Woods possesses good size, range and run support skills. He will be joined by perhaps the fastest safety in this class, Rahim Moore (Los Angeles/Dorsey). Cornerback also got some quality depth and versatility with ESPN 150 prospect Anthony Dye (Corona, Calif/Santiago).

Special teams got a big boost with the commitment of Jeff Locke (Glendale, Ariz/ Mountain Ridge). The Under Armour All-American should contribute early in the kicking game with his strong leg and versatility as a punter and kicker.

Could see the field in 2008: Dean, Woods and Locke.
Let's hope we can close out strong with Knox, Jones, and Stevens.

The momentum is certainly on our side.

GO BRUINS.