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UCLA Football Recruiting: Setting Up Rick Neuheisel's Stretch Run

All right folks. Time to really buckle up. We have a big basketball game coming up on Thursday but I have to say it is going to be really hard to think about hoops with just two days till national signing day (NSD). In last 24 hours we have already seen some interesting movements concerning some of our remaining targets.

To reset the table IMHO here are the realistic targets as of right now. I am ordering them according to my personal preference:

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

I took Shirley out of Ryan's list because I am getting the feeling that if we get Pullard and somehow manage to flip Zumwalt, there just will not be enough scholie to go around for LBers in this class. I also struck Ferguson off the list because haven't heard much about. Of course feel free to disagree if you have information that suggests otherwise.

Now out of this remaining seven, if we manage to get Heimuli, Pullard, and Jefferson, I will be happy considering we are coming at this from a 7 win season (!). However, if CRN manages to get the other guys on that list, he will establish himself as perhaps the most fierce recruiter in the entire Western Region and one of the top-5 in the country. It would be nothing short of amazing.

Yesterday evening we had couple of developments as two of our remaining targets - Jordan Zumwalt and Dietrich Riley - came over to Westwood for an "unofficial visit" following their "official visit" across town. Zumwalt was originally a Stanford commit (in fact he is the highest rated commit on Harbaugh's board) and Riley had committed to the Trojans before opening things up. Meanwhile, rumors are floating that Giovanni decommitted from Southern Cal, which is interesting considering he had just tripped to UCLA. More after the flip.

As of right now we have 20 commitments on our board. It will be interesting to see whether will be able to hold on to Julious Moore given the academic issues around his recruitment. We will know more in next two days perhaps as apparently he canceled his visit to Washington State over the weekend.  The main battle is whether he wants to get his admission requirements fulfilled for UCLA or if he just want to go somewhere else where it'd be much easier to get in (again Moore implied it himself). I hope he takes the route of persevering and join UCLA possibly as a greyshirt.

Similarly we were hearing about Marques Jackson about decommitting in the last minute. Apparently per he will stick with UCLA (HT uclaves):

For Jackson, the bottom line was whether or not the USC visit could change his mind about his UCLA commitment. 

"I just wanted feeling how I felt when I was at UCLA," Jackson said, adding that he would be sticking with his decision to sign with the Bruins on Wednesday.  "I'm going to call the 'SC coaches a little later and let them know."

Marquis added that he has "nothing to worry about" with his academics and that he is "handling" his "business in the classroom." Sure hope that is accurate. It would be great to have him as a Bruin.

Meanwhile, couple of articles to pass on concerning couple of our current commitments. People in Virginia are excited to follow the career of our incoming 4 star LB Aramide Olaniyan:

"He's got this dynamic personality. He went out to UCLA for a day and a half, and I called after his visit, and everybody knew him. And they were all, ‘A.O., we love A.O., we want him to come here.' So he's just got that kind of personality that you just love to be around him, he's got a great laugh, huge smile, and he's just special in so many ways."

Olaniyan compares his game to University of Miami linebacker Sean Spence, who was named ACC defensive rookie of the year in 2008, for his speed and passion for the game.

"The biggest thing is just excitement," Alexander (AO's coach Clint Alexander, BN) said. "He plays with such an explosive high motor that you almost can't take your eyes off of him, and he's in the mix almost every play but he's so enthusiastic. So when the play's over, he's in the air jumping up with his teammates and celebrating, but he's really positive, he's not a taunter or an aggravator, he's just 100 percent emotional."

Let's hope AO will have another fellow Nigerian American to team up with to wreak havoc in the Pac-10 offensive backfield. While AO is getting ready to be a Bruin out East, Sealii Epenesa (Chris Roberts is probably having nightmares these days about pronouncing all these names) has been named as three of the best recruits to come out of this year's Hawaii class. That is something special because Sealli didn't emerge in the recruiting scene till his senior season.

I wish we had a little more depth at DT so that he would have the luxury to redshirt and work on his game. However, given our depth chart, it will not be a surprise if he gets into the two deep during Fall camp.

AO and Sealii are not the only future Bruins racking up honors. Looks like Malcolm Jones, Jordon James are among at least two Bruins who have been named as Best In the West by the Long Beach Press Telegram. It sounds like Malcolm and other Bruin recruits are doing their part in filling out rest of this class.

We are all going to be pins and needles over next two days to see how it all shapes up. As I have written already I have never had this much fun following recruiting for UCLA football. The way CRN has set it all up for us, no matter what happens on Wed, he will have UCLA in a win-win situation.