For the next 24 hours, your life as a UCLA fan will be filled with joy, despair, anger, elation and many fist-pumps. The Bruins are looking to bring in a top-five class for 2013, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Thus far, UCLA’s class is headlined by Priest Willis, a 4/5-star defensive back out of Tempe, Ariz (Marcos De Niza).
In true National Signing Day fashion though, drama has ensued and Willis will not be signing his Letter of Intent today.
Meanwhile, UCLA could bring in another headliner with the decision of 5-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes looming. Asiantii Woulard, Isaac Savaiinaea and Cornelius Elder are also deciding between schools, and their final lists include the Bruins as well. The commitment of all four is possible, but so is being shafted by all four. Neither scenario is very likely, but with recruiting being the way it is, it’s impossible to be sure.
So sit down and join us, as Jeff Poirier takes you through the wild ride that is National Signing Day. Keep up with all the UCLA recruits as they fax in their LOIs, by following Go Joe Bruin (@GoJoeBruinUCLA) and Jeff (@JJPoir) on Twitter. This post will be updated as soon as the LOIs start rollin’ in.
6:20 AM: UCLA’s First LOIs Come Down the Wire
Good morning, Bruins! As you reluctantly get ready for work this morning, I bring you good news from the UCLA football recruiting world.
Two new Bruins have already submitted their LOIs today, as 4-star OLB Deon Hollins and P Sean Covington, one of the top-rated kicking prospects in the country, have faxed their signatures to the UCLA football office. Cementing Hollins’ pledge is huge, as there has been speculation that he was a soft verbal and considering other options.
The news comes from the Twitter account of UCLA head coach Jim Mora (@UCLACoachMora).
More LOIs from out-of-state players should be coming in soon, as well as the announcement of 4-star QB Asiantii Woulard at 9:30 AM PST. Keep it locked here for more UCLA updates as National Signing Day, and your work week, labor on.
7:25 AM: Five More Bruins Get Early Start on NSD, Sign LOIs
Five more Bruins have officially joined the fold as 4-star offensive linemen Caleb Benenoch and Kenny Lacy, 4-star CB Johnny Johnson, and 4-star safeties Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman all faxed in their LOIs.
Benenoch is one of the best offensive guards coming out of Texas in 2013, while Johnson, Goodman and Foreman are among the most elite defensive backs in California. The signing of Goodman is especially critical, as he has been closely linked with fellow safety commit Priest Willis.
Willis is the prized gem of Mora’s recruiting class so far, but he will reportedly not sign his LOI today because his mother is traveling out of town. While that doesn’t mean he won’t be a Bruin, we all know nothing is official until pen hits paper.
Stay tuned for more news and notes as National Signing Day heats up.
8:05 AM: 4-star DE Kylie Fitts is Officially a Bruin
The good news just keeps on coming for UCLA, as 4-star DE Kylie Fitts signed his LOI and will be ready to play Spring ball for the Bruins.
Fitts, a former Southern Cal verbal, committed to UCLA last night after reopening his recruitment a few weeks ago. The 6’4″, 260-pound run-stopper was a huge get for Mora and Co., as he should be a major contributor after what will likely be a redshirt year in 2013.
Fitts’ signing is also important for the recruitment of 5-star target Eddie Vanderdoes, as the two defensive linemen have been close for some time now. If Vanderdoes joins Fitts in Westwood, the Bruins will be in business on the D-line.
UCLA has also received LOIs from WR Darren Andrews, OL John Lopez, LB Jayon Brown, DL Kenny Clark and WR Jalen Ortiz. That brings the Bruins’ total to 14 signed, including early-enrollee Eldridge Massington, a 4-star WR who is already taking classes.
9:30 AM: UCLA Receives 2 More LOIs, Update on Eddie Vanderdoes Recruitment
The claim was then reported to be a mistake, as it was confirmed by Irish head coach Brian Kelly that Vanderdoes had not signed with Notre Dame.
I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it isn’t a great sign for UCLA’s chances with the 5-star defensive tackle. If Vanderdoes does take his talents to South Bend, the Bruins would be missing out on one of the best California defenders in this class.
Vanderdoes was originally expected to announce his commitment at 5:00 PM PST, but those plans seem to be in flux now. Check back for more info as the ever-entertaining NSD drama unfolds.
9:37 AM: UCLA GETS VERBALS FROM ISAAC SAVAIINAEA AND ASIANTII WOULARD
Well, it’s official. National Signing Day is going to be a happy one for UCLA fans. Mora and Co. have continued to work their magic, landing big time commitments from a pair of blue-chip prospects in LB Isaac Savaiinaea and QB Asiantii Woulard.
Savaiinaea was the Bruins’ first new commit of NSD, as the 3/4-star inside ‘backer verbally pledged to the Bruins over a myriad of other offers, including finalist Texas A&M.
At 6’3”, 235-pounds, Savaiinaea is a hard-hitter with a high-powered motor, so he should fit perfectly on Mora’s defensive-minded squad. Coming out of the famed Punahou School in Honolulu, Savaiinaea has decided to join fellow Buff & Blue alum and current UCLA Bruin Ka’imi Fairbairn in Westwood.
Get excited about this guy. He is going to be a star in the Bruins’ front seven, and you’ll get used to hearing his name called over the PA at the Rose Bowl.
On offense, UCLA gets a top-flight runner and passer in Woulard, a 4-star out of Winter Park, Fla. (Winter Park). Woulard is regarded by some as the No. 1 dual-threat QB prospect in the country, which shows just how much pull Mora has on the recruiting trail.
Woulard made his verbal official a few minutes after committing, faxing his LOI along to the UCLA football office. A redshirt year seems inevitable (assuming he remains at the QB position) because of incumbent starter Brett Hundley, but this is an enormous victory for the Bruins.
With the addition of these two players, UCLA’s class has undoubtedly vaulted itself back into the top-10 nationally. The Bruins are establishing themselves as a legitimate contender for the nation’s best recruits, regardless of where they live.
2:55 PM: UCLA Boasts 23 LOIs, Still On the Look Out for More
With National Signing Day beginning to slow down considerably, the UCLA coaching staff has to be happy with the haul they’ve put together.
The Bruins currently have 23 recruits signed to come to Westwood, and are still in line to receive a few more LOIs tonight and tomorrow.
Among the official new Bruins is 4-star LB Myles Jack, a highly-touted recruit out of Bellevue, Wash. Getting Jack’s signature was a major relief for Mora and Co., as the 6’2″, 215-pound outside ‘backer had reportedly been testing the waters elsewhere over the past few weeks.
The biggest threat to UCLA for Jack’s services appeared to the hometown Washington Huskies, but at the end of the day, Jack belonged to the Bruins.
As far as targets that are still left on the table, UCLA will look to focus in on three prospects, including 5-star DT Eddie Vanderdoes, who is set to make his decision at 5 PM PST.
In addition, UCLA will have to wait to receive LOIs from 4-star RB Craig Lee and 4/5-star safety Priest Willis, two important commits that couldn’t make it official today. Lee’s paperwork was held up because of academic concerns, while Willis was forced to wait because his mother is unavailable to sign.
If Mora can manage to land Vanderdoes, and clear up the issues with Lee and Willis, the Bruins will undoubtedly finish with a top-five class. As it stands now, Scout.com already has UCLA in that company, currently ranking the Bruins’ class at No. 4 in the country.
UCLA fans have to be pleased with the job Mora has done since coming to Westwood, and there’s really no reason to believe anything will change going forward. It’s a good day to be a Bruin.
5:17 PM: Eddie Vanderdoes is Headed to Notre Dame, UCLA Misses On In-State Prize
The UCLA coaching staff got its first real taste of bad news when 5-star DT Eddie Vanderdoes elected to sign with Notre Dame instead of the Bruins.
Mora and Co. were fighting tooth-and-nail for the former USC commit, but ultimately Vanderdoes was inclined to go Irish. It’s definitely a disappointment for UCLA, but it does not detract from the greatness that was the Bruins’ National Signing Day.
All attention now turns to Priest Willis and Craig Lee. If those LOIs end up making it to the Morgan Center, UCLA will finish with a near-perfect record on NSD. The future looks bright for the Bruins, now it’s time to put in the work.