- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Northern California has produced some impressive linebackers over the years, and 2014 has another special product in outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito).
The ESPN Watch List standout held early offers from Utah and Washington before adding a big one from one of his favorite programs. On a recent visit to UCLA, Calhoun was talking with Bruins' wide receiver Kenny Walker when linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich pulled him aside and told the junior linebacker that he had an offer from UCLA.
"I was excited," Calhoun said. "I like UCLA a lot. The players are really cool and the coaches are cool, especially the linebackers coach. I've always kind of liked them, but recently I really started looking into them and seeing how they play."
At this point, Calhoun sees himself committing to either UCLA or Washington, but other programs are beginning to show increased interest. Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas have all talked about wanting to get Calhoun on campus on unofficial visits. He said Oregon, Oregon State and Washington will likely receive trips this spring as well.
Calhoun said the Bruins are recruiting him as a middle linebacker, but other programs have talked about outside linebacker and even free safety.
"I love to play safety," he said. "You can see the whole field and I have that linebacker mentality back there where I love to hit everybody."
Calhoun would like to commit sometime before the start of his senior season, although he understands that some coaches might want to see some of his senior film before making an offer.
At this point, however, Calhoun is more focused on finishing out his junior season in style. He is certainly off to a good start, as Calhoun was named the defensive player of the year for the Tri-County Rock Division and nominated for Metro Player of the Year.
The Gauchos have been nearly unstoppable this season, led by a tremendous defense. El Cerrito hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points in any game and they have held nine of 11 opponents to fewer than 10 points. This Friday, they will put their undefeated record up against Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd.
"The thing about our team is that a lot of us have played together since Pop Warner," he said. "There is a lot of chemistry and we push each other. The coaches coach us well and we love each other as teammates. We feel like nobody can beat us."