clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UCLA Football Recruiting Reset: Pre Signing Day, Part 2

New, 34 comments

Earlier in the week 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 have the potential to bring in an elite class of defensive players.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Check out the Recruiting Reset from earlier in the week when we took a look at the offensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line

Commits: DT Nick Terry (3*); DT Osa Odighizuwa (3*); DE Breland Brandt (4*); DE Marcus Moore (3*); DE Jake Burton (3*)

Targets: DT Boss Tagaloa (4*); DT Garrett Rand (4*); DE Jonathan Kongbo (5*); DE Maxs Tupai (4*)

Update: Eddie Vanderdoes, 6' 3" 305 lbs., is coming back for his final year after his early season injury (I think he got a redshirt but he's gone to NFL whether he has eligibility or not), so are Takkarist McKinley (Sr.), 6' 2" 250 lbs., and Matt Dickerson (Jr.), 6' 4' 275 lbs., to build the line around. The talented Rick Wade (So.), 6' 6" 255 lbs., will definitely fight for playing time and so will Eli Ankou (RSr.), 6' 3" 305 lbs., and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (Jr.), 6' 2" 275 lbs. We also have depth with Ainuu Taua (RSo.), 5' 11" 295 lbs., Carl Hulick (RSr.), 6' 2" 300 lbs., [Graduating--congrats Carl!] and Najee Toran (RSo.), 6' 1" 285 lbs.

UCLA has done an excellent job recruiting along the defensive line in the past thanks in large part to Angus McClure, but the team is dangerously low on bodies after next year. Only one defensive lineman was brought in last year (Rick Wade) so this year we need a big class and the staff has been busy.

This season is off to a good start with our earliest commit, early enrollee, and LA kid Breland Brandt, 6' 4" 220 lbs. He's the #2 DE from the West and is a DE/OLB tweener. I think they plan to use him as a 4-3 lineman either standing up on with his hand in the dirt. Not only is he going to be a big player down the road, he's also been a big recruiter for UCLA (especially, Mique Juarez).

Marcus Moore, 6' 3" 240 lbs., from Encino committed as soon as the Bruins offered him a scholly. Though he was not heavily recruited, he is a strong, physical, while still very athletic football player with a non-stop motor. While versatile, expect him to redshirt and bulk up to focus on the interior of the line.

Recent commit Jake Burton, 6' 6" 260 lbs., is another former Arizona commit out of Chandler Az (home of a little someone named Brett Hundley). Not much buzz when he committed but I'm personally really exited about Jake. He's one of those big, physical, mean, angry, aggressive (should I go on?) players that you just love to see do their thing in the trenches. Beyond solid pick up, don't be fooled by the star meter.

You know you are getting a quality student-athlete, and human being, if his last name is Odighizuwa. Well, Owa's little brother is coming to Westwood. Osa Odighizuwa, 6' 2.5" 250 lbs., is a bit light but explosive though he will need to work on some things but he's welcome with open arms in my book. Oh &, he plans to be an engineer and give back to the community. BOOM!

Nick Terry, 6' 4" 295 lbs., from Elk Grove is one of the best Juco players in the country at #57 overall and, actually, already signed with the Bruins. He has good lower body strength that can plug up running lanes though still has enough speed to occasionally go after the QB. He'll probably be expected to compete for immediate playing time, being 21 years old, on the inside and to bulk up into the 300+ range by next Fall.

So the DL recruiting is solid with the current commits, but it has the chance to be fantastic.

The staff is still in the running for Boss Tagaloa, 6' 1" 295 lbs., out of Concord, CA. The #1 overall DT in the West, Boss is an elite player to build a line around. Tagaloa's violently athletic play reminds me alot of former Bruin Xavier Su'a-Filo (though X played on the OL). He's rumored to be a silent Bruin commit, but has trimmed his list to UCLA, Michigan, $c, Utah, and Washington so will have to wait until NSD for his announcement. Here's what Scout has to say about him:

Tagaloa is an elite tackle prospect with the ability to step in and play early in college. He has a great frame and will easily be able to handle more weight without losing any of his athleticism. He's very strong, uses his hands well and has a non-stop motor. He's advanced technique wise already and has multiple pass rush moves. He can bull rush, split a double team and is very strong at the point of attack.

Last but not least, is Garrett Rand, 6' 2.5" 275 lbs., who is currently committed to Wisconsin as a 'soft verbal'. Another player from Chandler, Az he's the #2 DT from the West and #16 nationally. The staff is still recruiting him hard and, I think, have a good chance at landing him.

Kongbo and Tupai are long-shots anyways so I won't go into details as this segment has already taken forever to research/write!

Linebackers

Commits: (ILB) Lokeni Toailoa (4*); (ILB) Krys Barnes (4*)

Targets: (OLB) Mique Juarez (5*)

Update: LBU. UCLA continues to recruit excellent linebackers worthy of giving UCLA the name "Linebacker U." Last year we brought in two exciting players who I think will be stars in a year or two: Keisean Lucier-South (5*) and Joshua Woods (4* but is young and huge upside). With EK and MJ gone and Kenny Young not playing spectacular or Deon Hollins (Sr.) being held back by the coaching staff, there's room for young up and comers to steal playing time away from vets. Don't forget true Bruin warriors Jayon Brown (Sr.) and Isaako Savaiinaea (Sr.) who stepped up last season. I could see Savaiinaea actually stealing Young's spot. Something to keep an eye on in the spring, I suppose.

Anyways, we need middle linebackers in this class. First up, is Lokeni, 6' 0.5" , 215 lbs., from Rialto, CA who is already on campus as an early enrollee. The #1 ILB in the West and #5 nationally, Lokeni is one of the best in the country who plays sideline-to-sideline and loves to play physical. He'll be a stud at UCLA since he plays bigger than he is, a great tackler, and simply put makes plays. Add the fact that he is a natural leader too.

Krys Barnes, 6' 2" 215 lbs., out of Bakersfield CA is not far behind Lokeni and is himself an elite ILB at #2 in CA and #6 nationally. He's fast and loves to go for the big hits and plays quite big for an ILB.

UCLA is brining in the best inside linebacker duo in the Pac-12. The outside linebackers are well covered too from last year's class but, of course, UCLA will always make room elite talent. Enter, former $c commit and 5-star stud Mique Juarez.

The staff is going after local Torrance stud OLB Mique Juarez, 6' 2" 226 lbs., who is the nation's best at his position. Not much to say except he can pretty much do anything, including cover the pass. Just kidding, Myles Jack. Mic drop. Yah, he's that kind of player and could be explosive on offense too. What jumps out most to me is that Mique is and intelligent and humble kid (with a magnificent smile) who is looking for a good education while he plays football (got the order right Mique!). Now, he's down to just two schools: UCLA and Ole Miss. Hmm....doesn't take b&m's patented tea-leaves' reading to see which school he might choose. We must wait until NSD when he'll announce his decision.

If the staff can bring in Mique, then UCLA cements its position as one of the best LB farms in the country.

Cornerbacks

Commits: None.

Targets: Myles Bryant (3*); Andrew Davis (3*)

Update: UCLA was and is still loaded at CB with everyone returning: Ishael Adams (RSr.), Adarius Pickett (RSo.), John Johnson (RJr.), Tahaan Goodman (Sr.), Stephen Johnson (So.), and possibly Fabian Moreau (MedR.Sr.???). Additionally, stud CBs DeChaun Holiday and Colin Samuel will be ready for action after redshirting last year as well as Will Locket and Octavius Spencer.

We don't really need to bring in any CBs and have none committed at this time. As we usually can haul in 4*s or higher, I doubt we bring in any this cycle.

Safeties

Commits: Leni Toailoa (3*);

Targets: Lamar Jackson (4*); Chris Brown (4*); Keyon Riley (3*)

Update:

Goforth (RSr.) Jaleel Wadood (Jr.) Marcus Rios (RSr.) all return though we will lose Goforth and Rios at the end of the year. Local IE kid Nate Meadoers was a nice surprise last season playing as a true freshman. Not too worried about the lack of depth here as we can always borrow from the big cornerbacks.

I love it when football runs in the family and the Toailoa brothers are the newest addition to the Bruin family. Leni, 6' 1" 190 lbs., is already on campus as an early enrollee. He's instinctual and athletic but will need time to master some of his coverage skills at the Pac12 level. Great size and a solid commit.

Forget about Jackson and Brown as we pretty much have no shot at them. We'll need to fight Chris Petersen in Washington for local Anaheim kid Riley. Riley, 6' 2", has ideal size for a safety but was a bit of a late bloomer. It could be a nice steal if the Bruins can close on him.

Special Teams

Commits: (K) J.J. Molson (4*); (P) Autsin Kent (3*); (LS) Johnny Den Bleyker (2*)

Targets: None.

Update: After a rocky start, Ka'imi Fairbairn will leave UCLA on a high note winning the Lou Groza award for the nation's best kicker. I can't help but get teary-eyed when talking about Ka'imi. I've been a big supporter of him even when things weren't going so well for him (don't believe me? look up my comments from the past 4 years!) while many were ready to chase him out of town. Such a humble kid, he's a true inspiration.

Where was I, eh? Oh right, with Fairbairn's graduation, we absolutely needed to recruit a kicker but also a punter and a longsnapper.

Well, the kicker is already on campus as an early enrollee. Molson is from Canada, eh, and is the best kicker produced by our northern neighbors, and is the #3 kicker nationally. Kickers rarely get ranked as four-stars so that means Molson is legit. He's joining a long line of great Bruin kickers, which is what attracted him to Westwood in the first place. Spent time with Jerry on his visit, so you know he was in good hands.

Kent is the nation's 12th best punter and is from North Carolina. Bleyker is not ranked as a long snapper. Don't know much about punting or longsnapping so please forgive my brief treatment!

***

Stay tuned as I'll wrap things up in the next few days with some concluding remarks. In the meantime, fire away with your thoughts and comments.

Go Bruins!