UCLA Football Recruiting: Bruins' Top 5 Remaining Targets
With national signing day less than a month away, it's crunch time out on the recruiting trails for the UCLA Bruins.
The Bruins currently have 20 commits in the fold and are heavily involved with multiple other prospects. At this point, the defensive side of the ball seems like the big focus. After the 2013 season, the Bruins are projected to lose their entire defensive line, in addition to most of the linebacker corps.
With that in mind, it would greatly behoove the Bruins to stock up on talented players from the defensive side of the ball.
Here are five prospects that UCLA would be ecstatic to sign in February.
DE Kylie Fitts
Southern Cal already lost one early enrollee commitment to UCLA in the form of wide receiver Eldridge Massington.
Will defensive end Kylie Fitts be the next decommitment to join the Bruins?
The longtime Trojan commit from Redlands East Valley High School recently opened up his recruitment—due to "a questioning of trust" in regards to the Southern Cal coaching staff.
Fitts was scheduled to start attending classes on Jan. 14, but a last minute change of plans by the coaching staff precluded that from happening. The defensive end was even shopping for dorm items a few days before this development occurred.
There have been rumors about Southern Cal perhaps giving Fitts' early enrollee spot to another recruit, but those rumors have yet to be substantiated in any way.
It could also be surmised that the Trojans took Fitts' loyalty for granted—assuming that he wouldn't have a problem about pushing back his enrollment to the university.
Regardless, garnering the pledge of Fitts would be a boon for UCLA. He'd be a perfect fit as an end in the Bruins' 3-4 scheme. The U.S. Army All-American has an ultra-quick first step and is absolutely relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback.
In the Bruins' favor is the fact that Fitts' sibling attends UCLA and that Fitts is very close with his family. The Bruins are also on a quarter system, as opposed to a semester system like many other colleges.
With that in mind, Fitts could theoretically enroll during the spring quarter—which would allow him to participate in spring ball and get fully immersed in the program.
For all of those reasons, UCLA has as good a chance as anyone to win the services of the talented defensive end.
Fitts will visit UCLA officially on January 18.
S Tahaan Goodman
With UCLA losing three starters in the secondary, there is ample play time available for any incoming recruit in the secondary.
Tahaan Goodman from Rancho Cucamonga High School is perhaps UCLA's top target at the safety position. With an open starting spot at strong safety, there's no question that Goodman is talented enough to start there from the day he steps foot on campus.
The U.S. Army All-American is as close to a complete player from the safety position as there is in the high school ranks right now. Goodman has a skill set fully equipped with impressive closing speed, violent hitting ability, intuitiveness out on the gridiron and great cover skills.
The Bruins have big competition for Goodman, and many premier programs across the nation are clamoring for his services. If UCLA wins out for Goodman, they could have a four-year starter on their hands.
Goodman has only visited one college officially up to this point—and it was UCLA. He's slated to potentially visit Oklahoma and LSU in the upcoming weeks.
LB Isaac Savaiinaea
If he's anything like Manti Te'o, he'll make one university very happy.
The Under Armour All-American from the famed Punahou High School in Honolulu is an absolute stud. At 6'3", 235 pounds, he's a man among boys on the high school level.
Savaiinaea is a big-time hitter from the middle. He's very adept at diagnosing the said play, reacting to the play and then making the play. His motor is always revving, and his overall intelligence on the field complements his physical ability tremendously.
The physically imposing middle 'backer from President Barack Obama's alma mater is down to UCLA and Texas A&M. However, there are a few signs that could point Savaiinaea in the Bruins' direction.
For one, UCLA is closer geographically to Hawaii when compared to Texas, and it seems like a better fit from a cultural standpoint. In addition, the Aggies already have a staggering seven linebacker commitments—six of whom are middle linebackers.
Lastly, Savaiinaea has a great relationship with UCLA linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. Ulbrich played at the University of Hawaii before a long NFL career, so he has a connection to Savaiinaea's homeland.
Savaiinaea would help to fill a void for the Bruins from a depth standpoint behind incumbent starters Jordan Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks. He probably won't start as a true freshman, but he could definitely be in the mix for early play time should he choose to play in Westwood.
DL Eddie Vanderdoes
A big reason why the SEC has dominated the college football landscape for the past decade is due to the stellar play on the defensive line. The talent and depth on the defensive line truly separates the SEC from the rest of the conferences in college football.
Those "freaks" from the SEC on the defensive line, like Jadeveon Clowney, Barkevious Mingo, Sharrif Floyd and Damontre Moore, terrorize opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
Eddie Vanderdoes from Placer High School in Auburn, Calif. looks like a "freak" in the making.
Vanderdoes is a tremendous prospect. He combines brutish strength with amazing agility for a man weighing over 300 pounds. He's technically sound from a footwork and hand-placement standpoint, and has a motor that does not stop.
He's also versatile from the standpoint that he's fully capable of playing at both defensive tackle and defensive end. One of the most impressive attributes of Vanderdoes' game is his leverage. He's masterful at getting low and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Vanderdoes was a former commit to Southern Cal and has since opened up his recruitment. He has already visited UCLA and Washington officially, and will take trips this month to Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Alabama.
Like Vanderdoes, UCLA's defensive line coach Angus McClure is also from the greater Sacramento area. He's forged a great relationship with Vanderdoes and his family. With a combination of academics and a comfortability with the staff, the Bruins look like a serious candidate for Vanderdoes' services.
Should Vanderdoes come to UCLA, he'll instantly impact the depth chart. While he most likely wouldn't start as a true freshman (the Bruins will start three seniors on the defensive line this upcoming season), he'll almost certainly be a big-time contributor once the trio of Cassius Marsh, Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Seali'i Epenesa graduates.
DB Priest Willis
As mentioned previously, UCLA loses three starters (Aaron Hester, Sheldon Price and Andrew Abbott) from the secondary to graduation.
In addition, there's a huge lack of depth in regard to the returners in the secondary. Aside from Tevin McDonald and Randall Goforth, there's next to no experience amongst the pool.
With that in mind, Priest Willis has been made a huge priority.
The Marcos De Niza High School product is one of the most versatile defensive back prospects in the country. At 6'2", 190 pounds, he's equally adept at playing both safety and cornerback.
Willis is a very smart football player with marvelous instincts. He's also got great ball skills and has demonstrated the ability to turn his hips effectively in coverage. He's a very fluid, athletic player in space and can dually use his size to ward off taller receivers.
The Tempe, Ariz. native has visited Florida State, Virginia, LSU and Nebraska officially, and will most likely take his last official visit to UCLA.
Should UCLA land Willis, he'll at worst see time in a reserve role as a true freshman. Best case scenario has Willis snagging a starting spot at most likely cornerback.