Defensive lineman My’Keil Gardner gets offer from UCLA Football
Chad Kauha’aha’a continues to try to build his position group for the future.
The UCLA football defensive line coach has already made three offers to Class of 2023 prospects in his group of positions since being hired in December, and he made two on Wednesday alone. The first went to Grant Buckey, while the second went to late rookie My’Keil Gardner.
As he approached his freshman year, Gardner’s only offers were from Arizona and Arizona, only for him to receive offers from Fresno State, Texas, Arizona State , Cal and Colorado mid-season. Wisconsin offered Gardner right after his season ended, then Oregon State, Iowa, Iowa State, Nevada, Utah State, USC and the Nebraska have offered just since the start of the open contact period in January.
Gardner got all that high-profile attention when he made a major leap at Liberty (AZ) last fall. In 12 games, Gardner had 86 tackles, 24.0 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks and five passes defended.
Behind those garish stats and leading his team to an appearance in the AIA State Championship game, Gardner earned a three-star rating from 247Sports. He has yet to receive a review from Rivals or ESPN, as is the nature of a late riser like Gardner.
UCLA, which is focused on sending deals to defensive linemen, appears to be making an effort to bolster a group that desperately needs bodies in the near future.
The inside group has already lost Otito Ogbonnia to the 2022 NFL Draft, Datona Jackson to graduation and John Ward and Tyler Kiehne to the transfer gate this offseason, and with no incoming freshmen to replace them, the position is on track to be much slimmer next season. Harvard transfer Jacob Sykes is coming to Westwood, but with one year of eligibility remaining, he will join Odua Isibor, Martin Andrus Jr. and Tyler Manoa as inside players who will be forced out of the college game after next season.
In 2023, Quintin Somerville – who hasn’t played at all due to injury in 2021 – and Jay Toia project themselves as the only real defensive tackle contributors, and they will be a second and a redshirt junior respectively.
Gardner and Buckey are two possible additions to this future defensive line room, as are Jayden Wayne and AJ Fuimaono. Prior to Kauha’aha’a’s arrival, Fuimaono was the only one to receive an offer from UCLA, while the other three were all pursued by the new coaching position.
Wayne is the highest-ranked player in this group, a consensus top 10 player at the position in the country, while the other three are more low-key prospects.
Gardner is poised to leap from the under-the-radar category to more elite status after putting on the show he did in 2021 and getting the kind of attention he’s gotten this offseason, which means he’s there will be a lot of competition in his advance recruitment.
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