Last week, I took the first steps down a monster undertaking on Go Joe Bruin, highlighting each of UCLA’s 2013 football signees one at a time. The 26-part mega-series attempts to break down how each new Bruin earned his place on Jim Mora’s squad, where they’ll fit in next season and what to expect from them going forward. The first two parts of the series on GJB featured UCLA’s top-ranked recruits, 4-star defensive backs Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman.
The third edition of the set hones in on Kylie Fitts, a 4-star defensive end from Redlands, Calif. who committed to the Bruins the night before National Signing Day.
Fitts is the definition of a physical specimen, measuring in at 6’4″ and 241 pounds while maintaining the speed and quickness of a 4.80 40-yard dash. As a junior in high school, Fitts racked up 79 tackles (including a whopping 8.5 sacks) so his productivity has never been in question.
According to 247Sports, Fitts is the No. 5 overall prospect out of California and the No. 4 DE in the nation, which makes his signing a major victory for Mora and his staff. But landing Fitts is especially sweet for UCLA because he was formerly a USC Trojan commit and was completely sold on heading to South Central before a falling out in early January.
The issue between Fitts and Southern Cal arose when Lane Kiffin informed him that his previously-promised early enrollment to the University was revoked. The Trojans had too many players slotted to enroll for the current semester, and for whatever reason, Fitts was axed from that list. Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with the U.S. Army All-American, and he decommitted from Kiffin and the Trojans shortly thereafter.
And that’s where the UCLA Bruins came in.
Mora and Co. used Kiffin’s continued ineptitude to their advantage, jumping in on Fitts’ recruitment late in the cycle. Because UCLA’s academic calendar operates on the quarter system, the opportunity for Fitts to get on campus and enroll early was still available, and the Bruins played that card all the way to the bank. In addition to UCLA, Fitts was also considering Utah, Notre Dame and the Trojans, but the allure of playing near home in Los Angeles and being able to participate in Spring football was enough for him to become a Bruin.
Since he will be in Westwood to compete in the Spring, Fitts has the potential to carve out a nice spot on the Bruins’ depth chart right away. And with the graduation of starting defensive end Datone Jones, there is room for someone new to step up and wreak havoc off the edge of the D-line.
The odds of Fitts starting in 2013 are pretty slim with the return of rising seniors Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Cassius Marsh, but he undoubtedly has a chance to earn himself some snaps as a true freshman. With Owa, Marsh, Fitts and Ellis McCarthy manning the defensive trenches for UCLA, the Bruins could end up with one of the strongest front lines in the Pac-12.
Regardless of what happens next season, Fitts is going to be a fan favorite once he eventually suits up and takes the field for the Bruins. After posting a 38-28 win over USC on the gridiron last year, UCLA has begun to turn the tide in the Battle for Los Angeles…and stealing this beastly defensive end from their crosstown rival has the Bruins in a great position for the future.