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UCLA Football Recruiting Reset: Part 2 - Defense

Yesterday, we took a look at the recruiting board as we see it on the offensive side of the ball. Now we move to the defensive side of the ball, where Coach Mora and staff still have some work to do but have built the foundation of a very good class.

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Defensive Line

Commits:  DE Rick Wade; DE Cassius Peat.

Targets:  DT Jospeh Wicker; DE Tyrone Wheatley; Kyon Clark.

Update:  UCLA has done an excellent job recruiting along the defensive line in the past few years thanks in large part to Angus McClure, but losing Owa Odighizuwa to graduation and Ellis McCarthy this season, along with the potential of losing Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark next season, there needs to be some careful planning here.

Last season, the staff added ends Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Matt Dickerson, and Takkarist McKinley, as well as tackle Ainuu Taua.  This season is off to a good start with commit from Rick Wade out of Santa Margarita and Cassius Peat out of Arizona.  Both need to fill out in order to play at the next level- Wade measures in at 6'5 230 lbs. and Peat at 6'4 235 lbs.- but they are highly regarded 4* prospects with a lot of upside.  Peat really lands somewhere between an end and OLB, but I'll list him here.  Peat has also wavered a bit over the past two months, so the staff still has some work to do there.

The staff is still recruiting end Tyrone Wheatley from New York and tackle Joseph Wicker from Long Beach Poly.  Wheatley is a pure end that would add depth, and at 6'6 245 lbs., he's probably big enough to play early.  Wheatley also plays tight end, but our staff likes him at end, so if he prefers to play on the offensive side of the ball, that could make an impact on his decision.  I really like Joseph Wicker as a potential DT for this class, and I have for some time.  He's been rising in the rankings all season, and at 6'2 275 lbs., he could grow into a prototypical 3-4 DT.  There is a lot of competition for him, with Arizona St. probably being the biggest challenger at this point, but reports indicate that our staff has really made Wicker a priority of late.

Finally, the staff has been considering offering massive 3* DT Kyon Clark, the younger brother of Kenny Clark, for some time but has yet to extend an offer.  Clark started the year in the 360 lbs. range and has worked his way down to 340 lbs., with the staff monitoring his progress all season long.  Clark previously indicated that if the staff extended him an offer, he would immediately commit, but I think he may end up more as a grey shirt candidate so he can have more time to transform his body.  I really hope he gets an offer because I see a lot of potential in his tape.

Linebackers

Commits:  OLB Keisean Lucier-South; OLB Joshua Woods; MLB Victor Alexander.

Targets:  OLB John Houston; OLB Jeff Holland; MLB Roquan Smith.

Update:  UCLA has had two excellent classes in a row at linebacker, and this year looks to be shaping up to fall right in line.  UCLA is losing Butkus Award winning MLB Eric Kendricks this season, and could lose Myles Jack to the draft after next season, depending on how he plays next year, along with Aaron Wallace to graduation.  The goal this season is to find a pure pass rushing linebacker, or two, or three, and MLB depth.

Keisean Lucier-South should step right in as a pass rushing linebacker.  At 6'4 210 lbs., he needs to add weight, but he has elite burst and should be able to fill a need on defense next season.  Similarly, Josh Woods needs to add bulk to his 6'2 210 lbs. frame, but he can play and will surprise quite a few folks with his speed and quickness.  He gets overlooked by a lot of fans because he's not a top 10 linebacker like the rest of the targets on UCLA's list, but the ranking is lower in part due to missing his junior year due to transfer.  If you watch his tape, you see a lot of explosion.

UCLA is still chasing 5* OLB John Houston and 4* OLB Jeff Holland, but it would not be surprising if UCLA missed on both of these targets.  Holland is from Florida, and he has been getting a lot of attention from the SEC.  Houston is yet another Serra star leaning towards Southern Cal, and until this staff shows that they can pull Southern Cal leans out of Serra, I'll always consider them extreme long shots.

At middle linebacker, the team is in dire need due to the loss of Zach Whitley, who was slotted to fill in for departed Erick Kendricks.  Getting at least one MLB is crucial this year as Isaako Savaiinea appears to have moved to DE/FB, leaving Jayon Brown, Cameron Judge, and potentially Cameron Griffin as the only other options.

UCLA did gain an early commitment from 3* MLB Victor Alexander out of Florida, but I think he's going to face a lot of pressure to stay closer to home between now and signing day.  He may be on the smaller side at 5'10 220 lbs., but Alexander is a missile of a MLB that would probably see the field next year.  Roquan Smith is another longshot recruit from Georgia, but Mora is using his Georgia ties and still has a chance.  Smith is visiting UCLA this weekend, so Mora will get the last shot with him before signing day.

Cornerbacks

Commits:   Colin Samuel; William Lockett.

Targets:  Iman Marshall; Dechaun Holiday.

Update:  UCLA is returning the top four corners from the depth chart, but will lose both Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams after next season.  The staff has done a good job at taking 2-3 corners every season, and this year should be no different.

Thus far, UCLA has gathered commitments from Colin Samuel out of Poly, and William Lockett out of Texas.  Samuel has prototypical size at 6'3 180 lbs., and his tape is really impressive.  He needs to add bulk, and many may not be blown away by his 3* ranking, but he looks much better than his ranking to me.  Lockett is a little smaller at 6'0 180 lbs., but he still has plenty of size and has the skills to play as a safety as well.  Lockett and Samuel both turned down overtures from Michigan and are firmly committed to UCLA.

The remaining targets consist in two local products in Iman Marshall from Poly and Dechaun Holiday from San Marcos.  Marshall and Holiday are both big corners, measuring in at 6'2 195 lbs. and 6'3 210 lbs., respectively.  Marshall has long appeared to be more of a Southern Cal lean, while Holiday appears to be favoring the Bruins, but there are a number of schools in play for both of them.  Marshall is a pure corner while Holiday could easily move to safety given his size.  Landing either one would be a huge.

Safeties

Commits: None.

Targets: Nathan Meadors.

Update:  The team is losing starter Anthony Jefferson to graduation this year and Tyler Foreman to transfer, yet the staff has not shown much urgency at the safety spot.  Randall Goforth, Tahaan Goodman and Jaleel Wadood can be penciled in as regulars for the next couple of seasons, but there's not much depth behind them.  Ron Robinson is the only other safety the staff has signed in the past two seasons.  However, the staff has signed a number of big corners that should be able to transition to safety fairly easily.

Nathan Meadors out of San Bernardino is really the only safety target on UCLA's board at this point.  Meadors is a bit of a late riser, but he has great size at 6'2 195 lbs.  Meadors will be on campus this weekend, and will likely be choosing from UCLA, Notre Dame, and Berkeley.

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We'll keep you updated as the staff continues to recruit for the 2015 class.  Fire away with your thoughts and comments.