2016 UCLA DEFENSIVE RECRUITING MONSTER BOARD

 

2016_RECRUITING_HOTBOARD

 DEFENSE

LINEBACKERS Interest Level and likely percentage of signing with UCLA 247 Composite Rating Comments
KRYSTOPHER (KRYS) BARNES
6’1″ 219
Liberty High School
Bakersfield, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 3/14/2015
90%
4-STAR The era of linebacker coach Scott White began with a roar, with the commitment of Barnes. Considered a dependable, disciplined inside linebacker, Barnes commitment may have created a domino effect for linebackers in the west. Barnes made the High School Butkus Award Watch List and participated in the Opening at Nike World Headquarters, and the UCLA Football Camp. As a junior, Barnes was First Team All-League, and the league Defensive MVP.
LOKENI TOAILOA
LB/DE 6’0″ 217
Carter High School
Rialto, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 3/23/2015
100%
4-STAR We have long thought that Toailoa had been a UCLA lean. Toailoa is not only a talented athlete (playing linebacker, running back, and tight end in high school), but is also a leader and someone that other recruits want to play with. So it is possible that his early commitment may continue to influence other Bruin recruits. We consider this commitment to be particularly big for the program. Toailoa made the High School Butkus Award Watch List and participated int he Under Armour All-American Game. Lokeni’s brother also committed to UCLA since the brothers would like to play together in college. Both have early enrolled at UCLA and are already attending classes.
MIQUE JUAREZ
LB 6’1″ 219
North High School
Torrance, California
OPEN
50%
5-STAR Juarez is a player that UCLA REALLY wants. Flipping a former USC commit that also happens to be one of the top players in the country, sends a message. A message that says that UCLA is no longer in USC’s shadow when it comes to recruiting, and that UCLA is on the recruiting map with the other top blue blood programs. The UCLA coaches and in particular, linebacker coach Scott White have been working overtime in recruiting Juarez. And Juarez is listening. Even though he committed to USC all the way back in January, USC was unable to lock him up and get him to shut down his recruitment. For a long time, we felt USC remained in the driver’s seat (even after his de-commitment from them) but that is no longer the case. They appear to be completely out of the running. Juarez claims to be down to UCLA, Ole Miss, and Alabama (with a couple other schools evidently angling for an official visit). Juarez could definitely be wearing the blue and gold this time next year. NOTE: We have been slowly lowering of percentage Juarez signs with UCLA. There have been some signs that UCLA may not be as strong as we initially thought. We believed UCLA was leading until his Alabama visit. It is quite possible they have taken the lead, at least for now. After visiting UCLA on Wednesday, 1/27, Juarez tweeted the following:


CALEB KELLY
LB 6’2″ 219
Clovis West High School
Fresno, California
OPEN
5%
5-STAR Kelly could be an instant impact player on almost any program and could be a good pick up for the Bruins. With offers from just about every major program in the country, Kelly is one of the premier recruits on the west coast. For whatever reason, UCLA and Kelly parted ways and UCLA is no longer recruiting him. Kelly is teammates with UCLA receiver commit Darian Owens.
CURTIS ROBINSON
LB/DE 6’3″ 215
Carter High School
Rialto, California
COMMITTED TO Stanford 4/13/2015
1%
4-STAR Robinson committed to Stanford in April.   Academics are important to the Robinson family – his mother is reportedly a professor at UCLA. So obviously, Stanford and UCLA were both given serious consideration.  UCLA was considered neck-and-neck with Stanford until he committed.  We hear UCLA Linebacker Coach Scott White is still communicating with Robinson and Robinson has not shut off communications.  White is recruiting lights out at the linebacker position and we hear that played a part in Robinson looking elsewhere.  We really don’t believe he will flip, especially with other elite recruits now showing Bruin interest, but it is a long time till signing day, and things change. MAJOR UPDATE: We are hearing that Robinson has now been officially qualified for admission to Stanford. We believe the door is now closed for UCLA.
DONTAVIOUS JACKSON
LB 6’2″ 235
Elsik High School
Houston, Texas
OPEN
10%
4-STAR Jackson is yet another Texas product and UCLA has done reasonably well in the Lone Star state over the years. While the inside linebacker Jackson is generally highly rated by most recruiting services (mostly 4-star range), we believe he is still underrated. If there is a Myles Jack replacement in this class, it might be Jackson. Big, fast, strong and athletic. Jackson claims over 50 offers from Alabama to Ohio State and seems open to almost everyone. The good news for the Bruins is that he took an official visit to Westwood in October. The competition for Jackson is ridiculous (his official visits were to Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Michigan and UCLA) so we do not have high expectations. Just getting a visit out of him was huge. This is a player that we at BruinAuthority.com are REALLY high on. UPDATE: On 1/18 Jackson tweeted that his final five are Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Texas and Michigan.
DEFENSIVE BACKS Interest Level and likely percentage of signing with UCLA 247 Composite Rating Comments
LENI TOAILOA
6’0″ 188
Carter High School
Rialto, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 9/21/2015
100%
3-STAR Leni is the slightly younger brother of UCLA linebacker commit Lokeni Toailoa. Formerly committed to San Jose State, Leni has already enrolled and is attending classes at UCLA. We believe he has gone a little under the radar because he is young for his class, and fairly new to his projected college position of defensive back. He will continue to grow, and shows very good upside down the road.
JORDAN PARKER
5’11” 180
Pittsburg High School
Pittsburg, California
COMMITTED TO OKLAHOMA 10/2/2015
5%
4-STAR Parker committed to UCLA 4/24/2015 and then subsequently decommitted. While heavily recruited before his commitment, his recruiting really seemed to blow up afterward. Evidently he listened. Parker is more than a solid player, and is one of the best defensive backs on the West Coast in the 2016 class. While he has claimed at times that he still likes UCLA, he is committed to UCLA, and all indications are that the Bruins have moved on.
JACK JONES
5’10” 172
Long Beach Polytechnic High School
Long Beach, California
OPEN
35%
4-STAR We have been suckered in the last two years with Long Beach Poly superstar athletes like Juju Smith and Iman Marshall. We gave both a lot of attention here because both indicated that UCLA was a serious contender. Both signed with USC and it became apparent UCLA was probably never really in it, despite what was reported by the pay sites. So understandably, we are a little jaded, and it is holding us back from getting too excited regarding Jones. Having said that, Jones would be an excellent addition to the team and it would send a powerful message to take the top player out of Poly High and one that USC really covets. He showed well at several camps and tournaments and had a very good all-star game. He continues to indicate a high interest in UCLA. Visited Alabama 1/15.
MYLES BRYANT
5’8″ 160
Loyola High School
Los Angeles, California
OPEN
40%
3-STAR Bryant is definitely on the small size for a major D-1 program. However, he makes up for it by being focused, scrappy, competitive, and smart on the field. While we like his intangibles, we are really concerned about the height. Defenses will try to take advantage of it with mis-matches in every game he plays. After losing Parker and some other top tier backs in the 2016 class, we wonder if UCLA is keeping Bryant in its back pocket using him as “plan B” in its recruitment here. He may be a late pickup should UCLA not get the players it expects.
BRANDON BURTON
6’0″ 191
Junipero Serra High School
Gardena, Califorinia
OPEN
35%
4-STAR Burton is a talented two way athlete, although we suspect he will end up on defense should he enroll at UCLA. He has always maintained that he likes UCLA a lot, but he is getting offers from programs nationally including some heavy hitters like Florida State, Ohio State, Alabama and more. He has taken four official visits, including Florida State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma), and none to UCLA. Still, we kind of feel good about that. After taking five visits to the blue bloods, they may lose their “magic” and just become other far away schools. On the other hand, UCLA is the home school, and has always been there for him. The wildcard may be USC which has been making a big push of late. His high school, Serra, has become a feeder school for top football talent to USC in recent years. This will be one to watch. And look at this timeline. Burton was set to announce on January 2 but changed his mind on that day…on January 4th, USC offered…on January 8, Burton tweeted a top three of UCLA, Florida State, and USC. Connect the dots. The good news is that he will still be taking an official visit to Westwood this coming weekend. Some other schools have reportedly been recruiting him hard down the stretch but we think ultimately it will come down to UCLA and USC.

LAMAR JACKSON
5’10” 164
Franklin High School
Elk Grove, California
OPEN
10%
4-STAR One of the better safeties in the country, Jackson’s recruitment is highly competitive. UCLA remained on his list for a long time but seems to have faded in recent months. If we had to guess, he will be a Trojan.
CHACHO ULLOA
5’11” 190
Centennial High School
Corona, California
OPEN
20%
3-STAR Teammate of UCLA recruit Kentrell Love, Ulloa just de-committed from Stanford and is now back on the market. While UCLA did not recruit him hard in the past, that may change now as he has said he is beginning his recruitment all over from scratch. UCLA has contacted him, but we do not know the extent of interest on either side. We saw him once, and he has a lot of intensity to his game. Officially visiting Arizona 1/22/2016.
CHRIS BROWN
5’10” 183
Elsik High School
Houston, Texas
OPEN
20%
3-STAR This Texas defensive back is a high school teammate of linebacker Dontavious Jackson. They were childhood best friends and have taken several official vsits together, including UCLA. Has offers from several of the in-state schools and a few good offers from out of state such as Michigan, Florida and Oklahoma. We don’t have a good read on Brown yet as to his interest in the Bruins right now.
BYRON MURPHY
6’2″ 201
Saguaro High School
Scottsdale, Arizon
COMMITTED TO WASHINGTON 1/21/2015
15%
4-STAR Murphy is a very good cornerback with offers from major programs around the country like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and many others. He is good friends with former UCLA player Priest Willis, who recently transferred out of the program to Texas A&M. Many feel this put UCLA in a bad spot in recruiting Murphy, and there may be truth in it since UCLA did not make his final list. Visited USC the weekend of 1/15 and then a few days later committed to Washington.
D.J. MORGAN
6’2″ 205
St John Bosco High School
Bellflower, California
COMMITTED TO NOTRE DAME 9/27/2015
15%
4-STAR Like many players from St John Bosco, Morgan has always liked UCLA. When UCLA was slow to offer, Morgan committed to ASU in May. Since then he received heavier recruiting attention after the spring evaluation period and racked up offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska and other national programs. With the new schools peaking his interest, he de-committed from ASU in early July. He then committed to Notre Dame in September. We were not sure where Coach Martin placed Morgan on his want list, but we suspect Morgan’s commitment to Notre Dame provides clarity on that. As an aside, UCLA is also showing more interest in Morgan’s teammate, corner back Traveon Beck. Beck is currently committed to Cal, but if UCLA comes calling, he will listen.
KENTRELL LOVE
6’2″ 181
Centennial High School
Corona, California
COMMITTED TO WASHINGTON 7/30/2015
35%
3-STAR As a junior Love was a little under the radar and committed to Washington before his senior season. So there has not been a lot of publicity about this young man even though he plays for one of the top reams in the state with one of the toughest schedules. However, in our opinion, he had an outstanding senior season and quickly got on UCLA’s radar. In December, both UCLA and USC offered. Despite his commitment to Washington, Love chose to officially visit UCLA on 1/15/2015. Our sources are feeding us very different comments about where he stands with UCLA. We suspect this is a case of having an allegiance with his Washington coaches, and his interest in the new local suitor, UCLA. He has said that he has not de-committed from Washington yet, so this one is hard to predict. v
KAHLEKE HUDSON
6’0″ 201
McKeesport High School
McKeesport, Pennsylvania
COMMITTED TO MICHIGAN 1/27/2016
15%
4-STAR A very good athlete, Hudson may end up on either side of the ball. However, his most likely college position is at safety. Hudson participated in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game where he practiced at safety and running back. The Northeast product is focused on schools in that area, with UCLA seeming like an odd exception. In spite of that, we still like the Bruin chances. He visited UCLA in December and Michigan on 1/15, with upcoming visits scheduled to Penn State on 1/22. On 1/25 Hudson announced he would be making his decision on Wednesday, January 27. The interesting thing about this date is that it is before his scheduled official visit to hometown favorite Pittsburgh on 1/29. Does this mean he has already decided on Pitt? Or that he has ruled Pitt out and will not be taking an official there? We have felt that Pitt was UCLA’s biggest competition so this is an interesting development. UPDATE: In a little bit of a shocker, Hudson committed to Michigan on 1/27.

KEYON RILEY
6’1″ 198
Servite High School
Anaheim, California
COMMITTED TO UCLA 1/23/2016
85%
3-STAR After a good senior season (including a 97 yard kick return against powerhouse Mater Dei), Riley’s recruitment seems to be somewhat of an enigma. UCLA reportedly offered him back in August but we have not heard much about that offer until recently. Riley is good friends with a number of UCLA players and commits, and UCLA has long been his favorite so we are not sure what the status of his offer is. We suspect UCLA is still looking at Riley as a back up plan should some of the higher profile recruits like Burton and Love end up elsewhere. UCLA is bringing him on on his official visit to Westwood on 1/22/2016, so perhaps the coaches feel some of their other targets will end up elsewhere. UPDATE: Riley committed to the UCLA coaches on 1/23/2016 during his official visit to Westwood.

CHRIS GASTON
6’1″ 173
Bishop Amat High School
La Puente, California
OPEN
10%
3-STAR Gaston committed to UCLA on 9/26/2015 as a relatively unknown player. Then Gaston’s performance this fall caused his recruiting to blow up. Due to injury, Gaston did not play last season so he was somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into this season. He de-committed from UCLA in December which we predicted at the time of his commitment. That was because his childhood favorite USC was starting to recruit him and he announced he would be taking official visits to other schools. Both USC and UCLA seem to have backed off. We think this recruitment is over, but would not be surprised to see UCLA contact him should some of their other prospects not pan out. There may be some academic hurdles as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE Interest Level and likely percentage of signing with UCLA 247 Composite Rating Comments
OSAWARU (OSA) ODIGHIZUWA
6’2″ 258
Douglas High School
Portland, Oregon
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 5/5/15
90%
3-STAR Owa’s little brother, Osa is a great player in his own right. osa_odighizuwaReports are that he might be a little raw, skill wise. However, this is a player we REALLY think a lot of. One thing we like is that he is a national champion wrestler. Did we say NATIONAL CHAMPION? Yep. Wrestling is a great base for a defensive lineman to develop hands, leverage, elusiveness, and explosion. The Oregon Wrestler of the Year finished his junior year undefeated with a record of 45-0. The football skills will come.
OLOWOLE (WOLE) BETIKU
6’4″ 263
Junipero Serra High School
Gardena, California
COMMITTED TO USC
0%
5-STAR The All-Pro linebacker, LaVar Arrington discovered Betiku on a visit to Nigeria. He was so amazed by Betiku’s athleticism that he brought him back to the U.S.A. and enrolled him in a Maryland high school for his sophomore year. Betiku didn’t play as he adjusted to life in America. Before his junior year, he enrolled at Serra High School in Gardena, California. Even though he had never played the game, his size and athleticism helped him to quickly become a starter and a force on the defense.

However, his recruitment is another story. He first committed to UCLA, de-commited, and recently committed to USC even though they do not even have a defensive line coach. We had assumed, mistakenly, that the Nigerian connection would have kept him a Bruin. After all, UCLA has become something of a Nigerian hotbed for players and that can definitely help recruit other Nigerians. Off the top of our heads, past and present Bruin Nigerian players include Owa Odighizuqa (and his brother Osa), Brendon Ayanbadejo, Calab Benenoch, Soso Jamabo, Kenny Orjioke, Bolu Olorunfunmi, and Josh Wariboko.

While Betiku is a fantastic athlete and will be playing on Sundays, we are not sure this is a huge loss. There have been persistent rumors about character/behavior issues, including a possible incident at the recent Under Armour All-American Game.

BRELAND BRANDT
6’4″ 226
Windward High School
Los Angeles, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 10/5/2014
100%
4-STAR There is some discussion as to whether Brandt will end up on the line or as linebacker at UCLA. There are also questions about his rate of improvement due to a lack of competition and questionable coaching. Regardless, we still like Brandt. A lot. Once he gets to Westwood where the competition and high level coaching will raise his game, he will be a factor by his junior season. Brandt made the High School Butkus Award Watch List, and has already enrolled and is attending classes at UCLA.

MARCUS MOORE
6’4″ 237
Crespi High School
Encino, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 5/29/2015
90%
3-STAR We think the best word to use when describing Moore is “solid.” As of right now, there may not be anything astounding about his game, but there are also not many glaring weaknesses either. Moore is the type of player that at worst, adds to the program’s depth, and at best, shows the potential to blow up and become a starter once he gets a couple years under the wing of UCLA strength coach, Sal Alosi.
JAKE BURTON
6’6″ 262
Granite Hills High School
El Cajon, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 1/19/2016
90%
3-STAR The former Arizona commit who flipped to UCLA is a solid pick up and will add some needed depth on the d-line. He is an enthusiastic player, but it will still probably take him a redshirt and two to three years to get the shape, size, and skill to be effective for the Bruins. Expected to take his official visit 1/22/2016.

KEANU SALEAPAGA
6’6″ 278
La Mirada High School
La Mirada, California
OPEN
25%
3-STAR Coached by former star Colorado quarterback, Mike Moschetti, Saleapaga has seen a lot of new interest after his de-commitment from USC. With the new coaching changes, USC may have wanted to go in a different direction. In our opinion, that is their loss, and someone else’s gain. He has recently picked up offers from Pittsburgh and Colorado. We understand that UCLA has been in contact but we have not been able to confirm that they have actually offered. We don’t see Saleapaga being a star at UCLA, but he would provide needed depth at a position that needs it. He reportedly performed very well at the recent Polynesian All-American Bowl game.

BRYSON YOUNG
6’4″ 223
Buchanan High School
Clovis, California
COMMITTED TO OREGON 9/25/2015
15%
4-STAR This is a player that UCLA coach Angus McClure reportedly really liked. Young committed to Oregon and while McClure may have been high on him, we were never so sure. Last summer we were actually hoping that UCLA would wait on Young until further evaluation during his senior season. That was at a time when we assumed UCLA d-line recruiting would be better than it has been. We were greedy and looking for better talent. Considering the lack of d-line commits in January, Young is looking better and better. We think he will stick to his Oregon commitment but we also have to believe that UCLA will remain in contact should anything change.
BOSS TAGALOA
6’3″ 307
De La Salle High School
Concord, California
OPEN
70%
4-STAR From a powerhouse program, this top defensive tackle out west has been a Bruin priority for a long time. Teammate of another Bruin recruit, Devin Asiasi, both have taken official visits to Westwood. Long rumored to be a strong UCLA lean, Tagaloa is still being heavily recruited by a number of powerhouses, including USC, Michigan, and Alabama. Tagaloa has visited UCLA and Washington, and is scheduled to visit Michigan, Utah, and USC.


JONATHON KONGBO
6’6″ 258
Arizona Western Community College
Yuma, Arizona
OPEN
15%
5-STAR A complete unknown, Kongbo signed with Wyoming out of high school. From there he moved to Arizona Western where he blew up and got on the recruiting list of just about every school in the country. Kongbo was committed to Tennessee but recently opened his recruitment up again on January 5. The next day, UCLA offered. Make no mistake, the competition for Kongo is intense and he has already visited Mississippi, Tennessee and Oregon State. He has plans for visiting Alabama. USC was thought to get that fifth, but his recruiting lead for USC, Peter Sirmon left the Trojans to become the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State. Head Coach Clay Helton has successfully taken over the recruitment of Kongbo and he has been receptive, rescheduling his official visit for 1/22/2016. One of the reasons he likes USC is that he is intrigued by playing in Los Angeles. We view Kongbo as an instant impact type of player. Alabama may currently lead, but USC appears to be closing fast. UCLA is still trying.

GARRETT RAND
6’3″ 288
Hamilton High School
Chandler, Arizona
COMMITTED TO WISCONSIN 10/1/2015
60%
4-STAR The talented Rand took his first and only official visit to Wisconsin in late September and immediately committed to them on October 1. Having relatives who attended Wisconsin and are still in the area heavily influenced his decision. However, since then a few things have changed. Dave Aranda, the rising defensive coordinator and a coach that Rand had a good relationship with, left the program to join the LSU staff. Second, he had some relatives move to the Los Angeles area. And three, d-line coach Angus McClure kept recruiting him, and with no defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Rand listened. Expected to take his offocial visit to Westwood on 1/22/2016.
CARLO KEMP
6’3″ 253
Fairview High School
Boulder, Colorado
COMMITTED TO MICHIGAN 9/25/2015
0%
4-STAR Probably the top player in the state of Colorado, Kemp is also a good student. Even though he committed to Michigan back in September, he was still taking official visits. We felt if we could get one of those visits there was a slight chance of flipping him. He didn’t visit and has just early enrolled at Michigan so that will not happen.
JUSTIN MADUBUIKE
6’3″ 248
McKinney North High School
McKinney, Texas
COMMITTED TO TEXAS A&M 9/18/2015
20%
4-STAR Madubuike is a player we REALLY like and was recently named to the Dallas News Power 15 team. Unfortunately, the Texas native committed to Texas A&M and never looked back.
NICK TERRY
6’3″ 291
American River Community College
Sacramento, California
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 10/29/2015
95%
3-STAR Terry signed with Boise State out of high school, red-shirted his first season, played sparingly his second, and with coaching changes left the program. He reportedly had a good season last year, but we have not seen Terry in person, so we really don’t have a feel for how ready he will be at UCLA.
RASHARD LAWRENCE
6’2″ 302
Neville High School
Monroe, Louisiana
OPEN
15%
4-STAR Lawrence is a highly recruited Louisiana player, and UCLA has had success getting these players to campus on official visits. However, they have not been as successful at turning a visit into a signed letter of intent. Lawrence is being recruited by just about everyone in the country and does not seem totally enamored by LSU, so there is really no predicting where he ends up. Lawrence visited UCLA in October. He appears to be down to Ohio State and LSU.

2017 COMMITS Interest Level and likely percentage of signing with UCLA 247 Composite Rating Comments
JAQUAN HENDERSON
LB/DE 6’0″ 192
Newton High School
Covington, Georgia
BOOM COMMITTED TO UCLA 9/24/2015
40%
4-STAR Linebacker coach Scott White is showing some recruiting muscle with this commit. Pulling in a junior out of the deep south is no small feat. We will see if this commitment sticks – signing day is a long way off. Henderson is a good athlete that currently plays safety and linebacker for his high school team. We suspect that unless he grows significantly, he will end up a safety for UCLA. His recruitment so far has really been on the slow side. He is getting interest from some solid schools but few offers. We will watch his junior and senior seasons to see if this was a premature offer or if he turns out to be a steal and lives up to being a UCLA level recruit.

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