Soon after losing their prized and only commit of next year's cycle, the Bruins are going after another highly-coveted defensive back to replace him.
UCLA football sent an offer to class of 2023 cornerback Daylen Austin on Wednesday, the Long Beach Poly (CA) product announced on Twitter. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Austin brings solid size and speed to the table and is viewed as one of the top defensive backs in the West.
Austin also has offers from Pac-12 foes Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Utah, Washington and Washington, in addition to offers from Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Miami (FL), Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, TCU and Texas.
Cornerback Maliki Crawford committed to the Bruins in July, and he was the lone member of the team's 2023 class until he reopened his recruitment Sunday night. Crawford alone gave UCLA one of the better early recruiting classes in the Pac-12, but now the Bruins' staff will have to turn elsewhere, like to Austin, to try and plug future holes at corner.
Obi Eboh and Cameron Johnson both ran out of eligibility this past fall, while Jay Shaw and Shamar Martin both left in the transfer portal. By the time 2023 rolls around, Mo Osling III and incoming Wyoming transfer Azizi Hearn will have exhausted their eligibility as well.
Devin Kirkwood will be a junior by then, but with all the incoming defensive back recruits likely to suit up at safety or striker, he stands as the only current contributor who will be around in two year's time.
Austin comes from the same high school as former UCLA tight end and current Green Bay Packers veteran Marcedes Lewis. UCLA men's basketball guard/forward Peyton Watson and center Myles Johnson graduated from Long Beach Poly as well.
As a junior at Long Beach Poly in 2021, Austin had 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defended, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Austin also stood out on special teams, taking 17 punt returns back for 277 yards and two touchdowns and turning his three kickoff returns into 135 yards and a touchdown.
Austin is rated as a four-star prospect from 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN, and the three outlets all have him as a top-200 recruit in the nation. The 247Sports Composite has Austin pegged as the No. 19 cornerback and No. 13 Californian in his class, Rivals has him at No. 24 at his position and No. 12 in the state and ESPN ranks him at No. 15 among corners and No. 10 in the state.
Defensive backs coach and assistant head coach Brian Norwood has been running the recruitment process for Austin. Norwood is expected to stay on the staff regardless of who replaces the now-resigned Jerry Azzinaro at defensive coordinator.
Austin is one of six cornerbacks in the 2023 class with an offer from UCLA, but Cole Martin has already committed to Oregon and Crawford just backed off his commitment to the Bruins. Caleb Presley, Aaron Williams and Rodrick Pleasant are the other corners UCLA is in contention for with just about 11 months to go until the early signing period.