For the second day in a row, the Bruins have added a key piece to their front seven for next season.
Hawaii linebacker Darius Muasau committed to UCLA football Saturday night, he announced on Twitter. Muasau has as many as two years of eligibility remaining.
Muasau went public with his decision just a little over 24 hours after former Washington edge rusher Laiatu Latu decided to join the Bruins, giving them four incoming transfers so far this cycle. The transfer class' early headliner was UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who went to Mililani High School (HI) with Muasau.
Muasau was just a two-star prospect coming out of high school in 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite, and his only offers were from Hawaii and Portland State. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top linebackers in the Mountain West.
The Bruins have Jordan Genmark Heath leaving the inside linebackers group via graduation this offseason, meaning a starting spot should be open for Muasau to compete for right off the bat. He'll be rotating alongside Kain Medrano, Caleb Johnson, Ale Kaho, JonJon Vaughns and Jeremiah Trojan in 2022, with incoming freshman Jalen Woods also joining the group and former top recruit Damian Sellers hanging around as well.
For as many names there are in that position room, UCLA has failed to post an a defense that ranks in the top half of the country in points allowed per drive since coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro arrived in Westwood in 2018. The Bruins ranked 91st in the country in sack rate in 2021, and while the onus of getting to the passer falls more so on linemen and edge rushers than inside linebackers, it was a problem that Genmark Heath was the only one able to create pressure on a consistent basis.
Muasau appeared in 35 games at Hawaii over the last three seasons, accumulating 270 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. In 13 games this fall, Muasau had 109 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and five forced fumbles – all of which would have led the Bruins – in addition to an interception, four passes defended and three quarterback hits.
Against UCLA in the season opener, Muasau racked up 10 tackles and a pass defended, the first of his seven double-digit tackle performances on the year. Muasau earned a spot on the All-Mountain West First Team for the second year in a row, and he also made the conference's all-academic team twice.
Genmark Heath, Kaho and Johnson all transferred into the program, so there is certainly a path for Muasau to succeed right off the bat.
While Muasau will be joining inside linebackers coach Don Pellum's group, it appears the staff's two newest coaches – outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe and defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a – played a part in his recruitment at the very least. After Muasau made his choice official, Kauha’aha’a took to Twitter to celebrate the continued rush of additions with Pacific ties.
UCLA's Director of Player Personnel Ethan Young tweets "BOOM" every time the Bruins earn a verbal commitment from either a transfer or high school recruit. Young tweeted booms on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it's safe to assume they were for Muasau and Latu.
Catch up on all the transfer market news related to UCLA at All Bruins' transfer portal tracker.