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Recruiting Race: UCLA Pulls Ahead Of Southern Cal With A Big Commitment From Hawaii

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It's beautiful snowy morning out here in the East Coast.

It got off to a perfect start after reading sam_in_hb's fanpost about our latest commitment from Hawaii: DT Sealli Epenesa from Hawaii, who turned down among other schools Oregon State and Washington, to sign up with Rick Neuheisel's UCLA. Tracy Pierson from Bruin Report Online has little more:

The 6-2, 315-pound Sealii Epenesa from Honolulu (Haw.) Iolani verbally committed to UCLA Friday.

Epenesa told the Honolulu Advertiser of his commitment.

Epenesa chose the Bruins over Oregon State, Baylor and Hawaii. He also had offers from Washington, Colorado and Texas Tech.

Epenesa was named the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's Defensive Player of the Year this past season.

Many scouts consider him vastly under-rated as a three-star prospect.

tWWL has a little highlight clip of Epenesa. At 6-2, 315 he certainly has the NFL size and from what I have read about this kid, he has a nasty streak which is perfect for a DT. So much for all the nonsense we have heard over the years about Rick Neuheisel not caring too much about recruiting guys who muck it up in the trenches.

Epenesa has been one of our key targets all along this recruiting season as he is going to be a crucial part of our need to fill out the DT need in our depth chart.It is also important because there are good chances that we could lose Julius Moore due to academic issues (which he admitted himself) to Northwest School. We could lose one more for the same reason but we will see.

Here is where it gets more fun though. With Epenesa on board the number of Bruin committments at this snapshot of time is at 20, but even more interestingly CRN's UCLA has now pulled ahead of Lamey's Southern Cal in latest rankings. Bruins have now climbed up to number 15, while Southern Cal is at number 17. Obviously we are no where close to being done. Lot of things will go down in the closing days. Yet to see UCLA winning hand to hand combat on recruiting trail coming off a 7 win season (BTW how huge was that bowl win?) gives me the chills to think what CRN will be able to do once he finishes the rebuilding project in Westwood. Simply remarkable. More after the jump.

Here is our updated target list:

  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa- DE, Portland, OR (Nebraska, Oregon, UCLA, Oregon St.)
  • Ego Ferguson- DT, Chatham, VA (Cal, Florida St., LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Maryland, Nebraska, UCLA, Oklahoma)
  • Ricky Heimuli- DT, Salt Lake City, UT (UCLA, BYU, USC, Utah, Oregon, Oregon St, Washington)
  • Dietrich Riley- DB, La Canada, CA (UCLA, USC, Tennessee, Notre Dame, LSU)
  • Josh Shirley- LB, Fontana, CA (Arizona, Miami, Notre Dame, UCLA, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, Wahsington)
  • Anthony Jefferson- ATH, Los Angeles, CA (Cal, Oregon, UCLA)
  • Hayes Pullard- ATH, Los Angeles, CA (Arizona St., Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington, Notre Dame)
  • Jordan Zumwalt- LB, Huntington Beach, CA (Stanford, UCLA, USC)
  • Giovanni Di Poalo- OL, Ventura, CA (USC, UCLA)

I mean if we just get Heimuli, Jefferson, Pullard, and somehow manage to pull in some from other list, UCLA easily has a chance of finishing in the top-10. Don't forget there might be couple of here and there who are being recruited and not on anyone's radar publicly.

I have been an online recruiting junkie for 10+ years. I HAVE NEVER HAD THIS MUCH FUN following UCLA FOOTBALL RECRUITING. And I am getting the feeling we are just getting started.