"We're very close [to USC], and we'll go past them very soon," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel predicted.
UCLA pulled out a class some national recruiting pundits had in the top 10, which included some surprising last minute signings. Among those were a few players that USC were considered locks for USC a while back: Dietrich Riley (defensive back from St. Francis High), Anthony Jefferson (defensive back from Los Angeles Cathedral) and Josh Shirley (linebacker from Fontana Kaiser). USC did not seem phased.
Trojans Coach Lane Kiffin said that in the three years since he last recruited for USC, not much had changed in the players that choose the Bruins over the Trojans.
"I watched it over the weekend, just to see if it's the same, and it's really still the same," he said. "I guess we waste time continuing to recruit them. We know within the first 10 minutes whether they're the type of guys that want to play here or there."
Kiffin did a great job on the recruiting trial this year. Often when there is a coaching change deep in the recruiting season, as happened when Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks after the season, recruits scatter. Kiffin was able to nearly everyone that had given their word to Carroll, meaning a top flight class in place that can help keep the Trojans in the national title picture.
Among the biggest gets were Seantrel Henderson, the nation’s top offensive line recruit (and maybe biggest at 6’8”, 330 pounds) from St. Paul, Minn. However, he threw a twist in: He did not fax in his letter of intent (which legally binds him to the school). He is awaiting the results of the NCAA meeting with USC regarding the Reggie Bush/O.J. Mayo investigation, to take place in a couple weeks. Henderson has kept his options open with that move, should USC face sanctions.
Other big name gets for USC at the last minute included Soma Vainuku, a fullback from Eureka, Calif., and Marquis Jackson, who played defensive end at College of the Canyons last year.
Some of UCLA’s biggest draws were Anthony Barr, a running back at Loyola, Cassius Marsh, a defensive tackle from Oaks Christian, and Jordan Zumwalt, a linebacker from Edison in Huntington Beach.