After not signing a single defensive line recruit in their 2022 cycle, the Bruins are officially in the running for an in-state lineman in the upcoming class.
Class of 2023 defensive lineman Grant Buckey released his top 10 semifinalists Friday night, and UCLA football was one of the programs to make the cut. The Bakersfield prospect's list is dominated by the Pac-12, with Cal, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Arizona all advancing alongside outsiders Michigan and Nebraska.
Buckey also had offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Washington, but they are currently on the outside looking in on his recruitment.
Buckey's older brother Zach was a freshman at Stanford this past season, but since he didn't play a snap, he would only be a redshirt sophomore by the time Grant starts his collegiate career. Buckey's father Jeff also played for the Cardinal.
After going on an unofficial visit to UCLA in March, Buckey stopped by Westwood for an official over the second weekend of May. Buckey has had unofficials to several other of his West Coast semifinalists, and he has officials planned for USC and Cal in June.
With all of the interest from Pac-12 schools, the Wolverines actually sent Buckey his first Power Five offer last fall. San Jose State and UNLV were the first to offer Buckey, and they did so before the start of his sophomore season.
Buckey is being recruited as a defensive lineman, but he also has experience playing tight end and offensive tackle at Liberty High School (CA). The Bakersfield native played in nine games in 2021, racking up 51 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 12 hurries, two passes defended, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Former UCLA and current Green Bay Packers linebacker Krys Barnes was also a product of Liberty High School, while current UCLA edge rusher Carl Jones is from Bakersfield himself.
The 247Sports Composite and Rivals both have Buckey labeled as a three-star recruit and top-35 player in California. While Rivals has the 6-foot-5 strongside defensive end ranked No. 37 at his position across the country, though, 247Sports has him at No. 51.
Buckey is ranked as the No. 2 defensive lineman in California, according to the 247Sports Composite.
Jay Toia and Quintin Somerville are in line to be the top defensive linemen in the rotation come 2023, plus Duke transfer Gary Smith III if he sticks around and stays healthy. With Otito Ogbonnia leaving for the NFL Draft, Datona Jackson running out of eligibility, and Odua Isibor, Tiaoalii Savea, John Ward, AJ Campbell and Tyler Kiehne all entering the transfer portal, the Bruins were gutted on the interior this past offseason without a single freshman coming in to help fill the void.
Buckey, or the other three defensive lineman the Bruins have offered in the 2023 class, would be welcome additions in terms of pure numbers if nothing else. At 6-foot-5, Buckey and A.J. Fuimaono could bring solid length to new defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a's unit, while Cameron Brandt and My'Keil Gardner are shorter, more traditional options at the position.
UCLA currently has two commits for its class of 2023 – wide receiver Grant Gray and safety-linebacker hybrid Ty Lee, both of whom are also from California.