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A Glorious Day: Recruiting Notes/Thoughts

Let's start with Dohn's toplines on the start of the glorious signing day:

The sun was yet to rise on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, but it had already broke above the Wasatch Mountains on what turned into a glorious Wednesday in Westwood.

Xavier Su-a-Filo, an offensive lineman from Provo, Utah, called Kapoeli offensive lineman Stan Hasiak at 5 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time to break the news.

"I told him (Tuesday) I was going to UCLA, and he called me (Wednesday) at 5 o'clock in the morning to say he was coming to UCLA," Hasiak said. "I hope I helped with him. I think it's really good."

So began a wildly successful day for UCLA, which pushed aside a 4-8 season to finish a stellar recruiting class by signing four highly rated and previously uncommitted players during Wednesday's national football signing day.

The first time I started following Bruin recruiting was probably in 1993. Back in the day we would just look into the paper the morning after signing day or try to listen in one of the local sports talk shows (is Joe McDonnell still around?) and figure out who the Bruins were signing. I cannot recall the kind of excitement we experienced yesterday since the signing day of 1998 when DeShaun Foster helped UCLA put together one of the best classes in the country (picking us over the Longhorns and the Trojies). Yesterday was incredible.

It was specially gratifying for those of us who have stayed steady dealing with setbacks through the recruiting roller coaster.

Again just where do we start. We can start by talking about how the Bruins addressed their need at OL. Of course Hasiak and XSF are the huge (no pun intended) stories of this class. From the LA Times:

"They're on the rise, I believe, and I think I can go help them," Su'a-Filo told ESPNU. "The coaching staff is awesome and I really connected with a lot of players over there."

The Bruins bulked up their line prospects with Nik Abele of Irvine, Greg Capella of Visalia El Diamante and community college transfers Ryan Taylor (Tyler College) and Eddie Williams (Mt. San Antonio College).

"We went in [to recruiting] knowing that the offensive line was one of our biggest needs," Neuheisel said.

As for big Stan, he made a "gut choice":

"I think the 'gut choice' is usually the right choice," Hasiak said. "I just felt better going to UCLA."

I think there is another story here though and it has to with assistant coaches. I don't think it's a coincidence that UCLA and Neuheisel made a come back in this recruiting when Palcic turned down Tedford's overture to become Cal's next OL coach. There is no question Cal has had a good run in terms of turning out some solid OL in recent years. However, they lost their OL coach - Jim Michalczik - who happens to be one of the best in this position to Washington in December. After losing Michalczik Tedford made a run at Palcic but came up empty. I don't think that was lost on Hasiak while making his final decision. So a huge credit goes out to Neuheisel for being able to hold on to Palcic.

Both Palcic and Chow have been amazing last few weeks. From the LA Times on Palcic's recruiting trips:

"At the start of recruiting, Bob Palcic had never been to Hawaii," Neuheisel said. "He has been there four times in the month of January. He said, 'As long as I get to go with Norm it's OK because he gets us in first class.' Norm is a big name over there."

And Chow's tenacity:

At one point in recruiting, Chow got off an airplane from Hawaii and flew to Utah hours later.

So much for all the nonsense about Chow not being a hard working recruiter.

Anyway, in addition to feeling the need at OL, Neuheisel was able to infuse much needed speed into the program via Thigpen:

"He's 5-foot-7 with shoes on, but he's like a pit bull," Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Dougherty said of Thigpen. "I see him being like a (former Florida star) Percy Harvin-type. He can run reverses, slip screens and when he needs to, he can run right past you.

"Damien is lights-out speed. He's the two-time state defending champ in the 300 meter hurdles. It's over before he gets to the first hurdle."

And Carroll:

Cathedral High receiver Randall Carroll capped the day by announcing he was changing from USC to UCLA. His commitment, along with Thigpen's decision, gives the Bruins needed speed on offense. Carroll is the state's 100- and 200-meter champion.

Carroll was the second member of UCLA's class to decommit from USC. He joined tight end Morrell Presley, who enrolled at UCLA in January.

"He's the fastest kid in Southern California," Neuheisel said of Carroll. "For a team that's missing explosions on offense of plus-20 plays, that's something big."

I think it is worth mentioning that Carroll and Pressley are not the only two CRN victories over Pom Pom. Note that Trojans also recruited both XSF and Hasiak very hard.

While we all celebrated the surprises from yesterday, I think we also need to appreciate some of the special recruits such as Richard Brehaut, Todd Golper, Ricky Marvray, Isaiah Bowens, Sheldon Price who got the party started early in Westwood this year. All of those kids are great talents and signed up for the passion bucket early on to serve as the anchor for this class. I have read number of stories about how Brehaut and Golper have been out in force talking up Neuheisel and UCLA. That kind of leadership will be huge in the coming years in Westwood.

We still are waiting on two more kids. Brandon Warner is getting his transcript in order (as the coaches are holding a scholie spot open for him). Also Toma is deciding in the last moment as reportedly his buddy Te'o is lobbying him heavily to go to ND. I think that it is more than understandable for a kid to have a tough time making these decisions when it involves life long friendship. I hope he will stick with UCLA at the end but will not be upset if he changes his mind in the last minute. Given how glorious this recruiting season has turned out to be, I think we can assume that our staff is ready for anything.

On to spring ball.