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Signing Day Roundup/Open Thread: "Zero Fear"

Signing day is here. Finally.

We have been discussing last few months how there has been a definite change in the way UCLA football coaches now approach recruiting - with relentless tenacity. Ramona Shelburne from the Daily News marked that difference earlier in the week. Now Chris Foster from the LA Times has a story on signing day noting the change in the world of UCLA recruiting:

Over the span of a month, the prized defensive back was among four recruits UCLA managed to flip its way. Billy Sanders, a tight end and defensive end from Idaho, changed from Miami; Taniela Maka, a linebacker from Long Beach Jordan, switched over from Arizona.

The coup de grace, though, was Carson tight end Morrell Presley, who initially committed to USC, then enrolled at UCLA. That seemed an indication that while the college football monopoly in Los Angeles is still far from over, there is a game afoot.

"Think about it, when was the last time UCLA ever pick-pocketed USC?" said Rick Kimbrel, western recruiting analyst for "That hasn't happened in quite some time.

"Rick Neuheisel is like a bulldog. He doesn't care about USC's reputation. He's going head-to-head with them."

Obviously given the run they have had last few years Trojans are not going anywhere (unless of course NCAA decides to do its job ... lolololol). They will be piling up their share of blue chip recruits. But what has changed is that UCLA is not picking through left-overs any more. CRN and his staff have gotten their share of talent despite a 4-8 record in their first season:

And UCLA might not be done yet. As noted in last night's fan post here are the recruits Bruins are in the running for today:

  • LB Manti Te'o of Punahou High (Honolulu) (Notre Dame Commit)
  • OL Xavier Su'a-Filo of Timpview High (Provo, Utah) (Bruin commit)
  • OL Stan Hasiak of Kapolei (Hawaii) High (Bruin commit)
  • RB Damien Thigpen of Stonewall Jackson (Manassas, Va.) (Bruin Commit)
  • WR Randall Carroll of Cathedral High (Los Angeles) (Bruin Commit)
  • DB Brandon Sermons of Diamond Ranch High (Pomona) (Bruin commit)

For those who want to be glued to the TV (ESPNU) for announcments here is the schedule (via Dohn):

9:30 a.m. -- RB Damien Thigpen
10 a.m. -- LB Manti Te'o
11 a.m. -- OL Xavier Su'a-Filo
6:30 p.m. -- WR Randall Carroll

For a look at the back and forth process Dohn has a story. I don't get all worked up about the roller coaster ride in recruiting but I guess I can understand how the constant committs-decommits might cause a movement towards an early signing period in football (just like we have in hoops). FWIW Neuheisel doesn't mind the challenge. He has zero fear:

As for other schools trying to poach UCLA recruits, Neuheisel said, "We have zero fear. But we tell them, 'If they're talking about their own school, pay close attention, but if they start talking about us, you got to start asking yourself, why?'"

He is relentless:

"I think everybody would agree that a commitment ought to be a commitment," Neuheisel said. "But because of how the commitments are arrived at, and kids having such terms as `soft verbals,' you just have to keep competing until a kid tells you, `I'm done.' Then you move elsewhere.

"But these kids are still inviting coaches into the home, and all that stuff, so you just have to keep swinging."

And he is enjoying all of it:

"It's a wild ride. It's fun, if you have the right attitude for it."

Can't wait to find out how it all plays out today. Just like our head coach we have nothing to fear.


UPDATE (N): Note Te'o has set up a conference call with the folks at at 1:00 pm. I think that could be a sure fire sign that he is headed towards Southern Cal. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE II (N): For more signing day check out the links on our official site. For folks looking for ESPNU on DirectTV, I believe the channel is 614. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE III (N): Bruins hold on to Sermons but lose Sanders to Miami. GO BRUINS.


UPDATE V: (N): Good luck to Te'o. He is an Irish. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE V (N): Things are looking very good for CRN. Thigpen is now a Bruin. Bruins have also picked up Jared Koster - Norco LB - who was previously committed to Colorado State. Bruins are also right in it with Xavier Su'a-Filo. No matter what happens from here on out a FANTASTIC signing day so far for CRN. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE VI (Ty): Su'a-Filo is a BRUIN

UPDATE VII (A): Here is the list of football letters-of-intent or grant-in-aids received and certified as of 2:00 pm PT:


Name Pos. High School Ht., Wt. Hometown
Nik Abele OL Irvine 6-6, 255 Irvine, CA
Jayson Allmond FB Bloomington 6-0.5, 257 Fontana, CA
Isaiah Bowens LB Bishop Amat 6-3, 220 La Puente, CA
Richard Brehaut QB Los Osos 6-2, 206 Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Greg Capella OL El Diamante 6-4, 326 Visalia, CA
Todd Golper LB Arcadia 6-0.5, 225 Arcadia, CA
Keenan Graham DE Silverado 6-4, 225 Las Vegas, NV
Stanley Hasiak OL Kapolei 6-6, 320 Kapolei, HI
Dalton Hilliard RB Punahou 5-11, 195 Honolulu, HI
Jared Koster LB Norco 6-1, 220 Norco, CA
Taniela Maka LB Jordan 6-1, 220 Long Beach, CA
Ricky Marvray WR Centennial 5-11.5, 184 Corona, CA
Alex Mascarenas DB Mission Viejo 5-11.5, 175 Mission Viejo, CA
Stan McKay DB Poly 6-2, 205 Long Beach, CA
Marlon Pollard DB Cajon 6-0, 170 San Bernardino, CA
Morrell Presley TE Carson 6-4, 215 Carson, CA
Sheldon Price DB Bishop Amat 6-2, 165 La Puente, CA
Brandon Sermons DB Diamond Ranch 6-1, 180 Pomona, CA
Xavier Su'a-Filo OL Timpview 6-5, 285 Provo, UT
Iuta Tepa DL Poly 6-3, 238 Long Beach, CA
Damien Thigpen RB Stonewall Jackson 5-9, 170 Manassas, VA


Name Pos. Junior College Ht., Wt. Hometown
Ryan Taylor OL Tyler College 6-3, 305 Tyler, TX
Eddie Williams OL Mt. SAC College 6-1, 331 Walnut, CA

Link to the full release with player descriptions

Just so everyone knows, there are 23 players on the list. We're still waiting to hear about WR Randall Carroll, who is announcing tonight and picking between us and USC, and Roby Toma, who is committed to UCLA but may switch to Notre Dame.

According to one of the premium message boards, there are also two committed JC players who are still trying to get their admissions in order and at least one and maybe both could become Bruins.

Point is, close to 1/3 of the roster could be new next season and more than half the roster will be players recruited in the last two years by Rick Neuheisel and company.

Just imagine how he'll recruit when he's coming off a winning season as opposed to the current 4-8 season.

One other note: OL Xavier Sua-Filo said on television that he'll be playing as a freshman for UCLA, then will undertake a religious mission.

UPDATE VIII (A): This is from the Washington Post on speedy Damien Thigpen

"His visit to Tennessee was pretty disappointing to him," Dougherty said. "I think when he went out to UCLA it was just the opposite. He went out there and they really made him feel like he was going to be a big part of what they were going to be doing. They really made him feel like he was going to be a part of things pretty quick."

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Thigpen was a coveted recruit because of his blistering 4.34-second time in the 40-yard dash. Dougherty said UCLA told Thigpen he would have the chance to return punts and kicks as a true freshman, and that the Bruins planned to use him similar to how Florida utilized star wideout Percy Harvin this year, by getting him the ball in a variety of ways in space.

"They just need speed, and Damien's a fast kid," Dougherty said. He's a 4.34 kid, and he's every bit of it in equipment, too."


Can't wait to see how fast this kid is.