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Sprinting To National Signing Day: UCLA Football Recruiting News & Notes

<em>Photo Source: <a href="" target="new">Rick Neuheisel's Facebook Wall</a></em>
Photo Source: Rick Neuheisel's Facebook Wall

Ladies and gentleman we have just one more day to go. Those of you who are connected to Rick Neuheisel's facebook account can see his message:

Its a sprint to the end. Looking forward to welcoming the best and the brightest to our Bruin family on Wednesday!

Obviously we will have number of kids to keep an eye on tomorrow. While many are feeling a little too giddy thinking we are going to get every one of them, I am not getting my hopes up way too high. I can totally see scenarios in which we might lose a guy here and there, who we thought were all but locked up for Westwood. If that kind of situation plays out, instead of letting that get to you, I would suggest you look at the entire class and what CRN and his staff are on the verge of accomplishing in their second (full) recruiting season in Westwood.

Now, to take in festivities UCLA athletics department has set up few information distribution nodes:

Obviously, we will have an open thread to follow CRN's news conference as well as our usual posts. I believe Rye is putting together a post which will have information on all the signing day announcements of our various prospects.  Meanwhile, tomorrow we will just do what we usually do with morning post and then either updating it or putting up news posts as necessary).

Speaking of start of the day news and notes, I have some goodies to share on the other side of the flip.

While we are all excited about recruits who might sign with us on NSD, we shouldn't forget and stop appreciating the guys who pulled the trigger early. One of these guys is Chris Ward from Mater Dei. Ward is one of the better OLs in the entire West Coast, and he is coming to UCLA from a Trojan pipeline in the OC - Mater Dei - that has't sent blue chip football players to Westwood (can't remember anyone off the top of my head). Ward talked to the OCR about his decision to go with UCLA:

"It worked out pretty well," Ward recently said of his decision. "We've got a good class coming in this year (at UCLA), so I'm so excited."

Ward is expected to be one of at least three offensive linemen in the class. Because of his years playing basketball, footwork is one his strengths.

"That where I got all my footwork from," Ward said. "Post moves are pretty much the same as moving around blocking people."

Ward also brings versatility to Westwood. At a freshman at Mater Dei, he played right tackle. He moved to left guard as a sophomore. As a junior and senior, he settled in at left tackle.

Ward's versatility includes his rush- and pass-blocking skills. Mater Dei's pro-style offense gave him plenty of time to polish both.

UCLA out-dueled Cal for Ward. He said in his mind he flipped flopped between the schools about six times before committing to Bruins in October.

The article has a little more on how Ward and his family reached their decision to commit to UCLA and also poignantly notes how Ward also took note of Malcolm Jones being the first graduate from Oaks Christian to go to UCLA. It's kind of telling that these guys are feeling the vibe of something special taking place in Westwood. Anthony Barr touched on the dynamics of "change" possibly taking shape in Southern California's college football landscape:

JG: How important is it for UCLA to land not just big-time recruits in positions of need, but athletes such as yourself?

AB: "It's a compliment to know that I can fill any role that the school is going to put me in. I feel like they sort of spearheaded the way for me. A lot of guys are going to want to play on what I think is going to be a great team."

JG: As a local kid, you see what's going on over at USC - has the time come for the Bruins to challenge in Los Angeles?

AB: "That's what we're trying to do. USC has been great, stable for so long. But I think it's time for a change. All the guys who are coming in feel like we can make that difference."

That was from an interview Jon Gold did with Anthony Barr for his Daily News blog. Let's hope few more are feeling the same vibes as Ward, Barr, Jones and others have felt this recruiting season.

As mentioned up top, I will be stunned if CRN convinces all of our remaining targets to come to Westwood.  I can easily see last minute surprises going against us as well. However, what really matters right now is the way Rick Neuheisel has ginned up excitement through methodically generating momentum down the stretch. With huge commitments from Barr, Marsh, and Epenesa, CRN has the Bruins positioned for a strong finish, even if everything doesn't break our way on NSD.

What we do know is that CRN and his staff are going to be out there working every minute leading up to tomorrow to convince our remaining targets to pledge to the blue and gold. True to his words, CRN has been out there competing every way possible (within the rules) to bring in as much talent as possible ino Westwood. That's exactly what we expected from our head football coach all along and it is great to see CRN living up to those expectations.