For Arcadia (Calif.) linebacker Todd Golper, being the first commit to Rick Neuheisel nearly a year ago was something he treasures.
Golper has been a visible part of the 2009 class, either camping at UCLA, attending nearly every home game or recruiting other players.
This past weekend, Golper finally got to take his one and only official visit, to UCLA, and it couldn’t have gone any better.
“It was just an awesome trip,” said Golper. “It really made me want to get up there sooner.”
Golper was one of many official visitors to UCLA this past weekend, and the opportunity to be there with so many other committed players made it even more enjoyable. “That was one of the highlights, getting to be with a lot of the other commits,” Golper said. “The team is already really tight and the other commits have gotten pretty close. We went up to Coach Neuheisel’s house and there were a lot of players there. You can tell that the players are really buying into what Coach Neuheisel is saying.”
Golper was hosted by Steve Sloan, like himself, a middle linebacker. “Steve is a great guy,” said Golper. “He really showed me around and took me in. He knows we play the same position, but there isn’t any animosity. He was just telling me about the defense and we talked a lot of football.”
Golper and quarterback commit Richard Brehaut have been instrumental in welcoming other recruits to the class, and getting to trip with Brehaut was something he enjoyed.
He said: “Richard and I are probably going to room together during summer. He’s graduating early and getting out there this spring, and I’m going to try and graduate early too. It depends on if I can with my school. But I want to enroll early and go through spring practice.”
Whether Golper gets to practice in the spring, should he graduate early, depends on how his rehab from a late season knee-injury is progressing. “My rehab is going really good. The doctors said I’m about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, so that is good to hear,” said Golper.
Golper received the early offer from UCLA, and then was offered by Stanford and Arizona, but a lifelong dream of playing for the Bruins was too good to pass up.
Golper admitted he was disappointed that defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker departed Westwood. Golper and Walker’s son, Kevan, had been high school teammates, and it was Walker who personally recruited him. But Golper said he’s still excited about the future of the UCLA defense.
“I got to talk with (linebacker) coach (Chuck) Bullough a lot and he’s a great coach and I’m really excited about playing for him. He knows the game,” said Golper.
Golper said the atmosphere on Saturday evening, when some of the uncommitted players started committing, was pretty fascinating. “We were all just hanging out and then Tani Maka said he was committing,” said Golper. “Everyone got excited and then Nik Abele said he was, then so did Billy Sanders and then Marlon Pollard. It was crazy how it all just happened, but you could tell people were excited.”
Golper said the commits, both new and old, really clicked over the weekend, and they also did some recruiting of the uncommitted guys.
“We talked a lot with Randall Carroll and Devon Flournoy and just told them they could be a part of building something special. Morrell Presley was around too and he was saying how he changed his mind,” said Golper.