The Bruins are back in the Lone Star State again, and this time, they're after the state's top tight end, Longview (Tex.) High's Tate Casey (6-6, 220), ranked the No. 6 prospect in the nation by TheInsiders.
Casey took his official visit to Westwood this weekend, and said he was in awe from the time he got there until the time he left.
"It went awesome. It was real good," Casey said. "I wanted to check the place out entirely and get a good feel for the school. I was able to ask the guys questions, questions that weren't for the coaches, and they answered them. I hung out with them and had a real good time."
He first visited the UCLA campus last summer when he was in Long Beach for the Area Code Games (Casey is a top pitching prospect). But this time was even better.
"Nick (Carey) was my host the first night and Spencer (Havner) was the second night. I hung out with them, Ed (Blanton) and Justin (London). I thought I was big, then I saw Ed Blanton. He's the biggest guy I've ever seen. I also met Bruce Davis (from Texas) and Marcedes (Lewis). I talked to Marcedes quite a bit. I've kept up on him since he was in high school and knew he was the best his year. We could spread the field since we are both receiving tight ends," said Casey.
Casey has a strong connection to UCLA, one that could pay huge dividends in the end. "Coach (Gary) DeLoach has been the one recruiting me. My brother Taylor plays linebacker at North Texas, and Coach DeLoach was his defensive coordinator. My brother still keeps in contact with him, and he called for my brother one day and I asked him why UCLA wasn't recruiting me. Since then, UCLA has been recruiting me. My brother loved playing for him and has a lot of respect for Coach DeLoach."
On his trip, Casey spent some time with head coach Karl Dorrell, as well as strength coach Doc Kreis. "Coach Dorrell is a great coach. Yeah, it was a mediocre season, but he is doing things right. I would love to be a part of the tradition at UCLA. They are rebuilding and it could be great. Coach Dorrell has been there, done that, as a player. I don't necessarily want to go to a place that is on top right now. I would rather go where we can build something."
Casey said there are other aspects of the UCLA football program that are attractive. He said, "There is a chance for playing time at UCLA immediately, but I could also redshirt and have Doc work with me and get bigger and better. It's just a good opportunity at UCLA."
Casey still has trips to Florida (January 9th-11th), LSU (January 16th-18th) and Arkansas (January 23rd-25th), but admits he may not take them all. "I have all the trips set, but to be honest, I don't think I'll take them all. I could pop after my second trip. Right now, it's really between UCLA and Florida. After this weekend, UCLA jumped to the top."
Casey has also toyed with the idea of playing baseball in college, being a highly regarded pitcher. He said professional baseball is also something that could pursue further down the line, and he wouldn't mind doing both in college. "I talked with Matt Ware about his situation, doing football and pro baseball. It's something I could think about. I am a pitcher, right handed. I'll just play it by ear."
This season, Casey had 15 catches for 288 yards and a TD in a run-oriented offense, after a junior year of 19 catches for 362 yards and 3 TDs.