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Ellis McCarthy flips from Cal to UCLA

1/17/2012

It definitely was a rough day for the Cal Bears.

Not only did they lose their defensive line coach and best recruiter, Tosh Lupoi, they lost one of their top recruits as well when defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy flipped from the Bears to UCLA Monday night.

Ed McCarthy, father of Ellis, responded via text with a simple, ‘Yes, Ellis committed to UCLA tonight,’ when questioned about the rumored switch.

Ed McCarthy later talked about the decision to ESPNLA.com's Sean Ceglinsky.

“Coach Jim Mora came to UCLA and started doing all the right things, hiring all the right people, that's what made the decision to commit to the Bruins easy for Ellis,'' Ed McCarthy said.

“We're happy he is staying close to home, we get to see him play in college. As a family, we always wanted him to go to UCLA. Once he wanted to go there, things fell into place.''

A lot of people anticipated McCarthy’s commitment to Cal being one to watch, but few could have guessed he would switch just two weeks after giving it.

Many recruiting fans will try and connect the dots and say McCarthy switching his commitment to UCLA is all about Lupoi leaving for Washington.

That would be inaccurate.

The truth is, even before McCarthy committed to the Bears at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the feeling from talking to those close to the lineman was that he would end up at UCLA.

McCarthy was an early USC lean and had a strong relationship with Trojan assistant coach Ed Orgeron. While it seemed USC was in the drivers seat, behind the scenes, there were some in the McCarthy family that weren’t excited about the idea of him playing for the Trojans.

McCarthy’s father, a strong UCLA supporter, had been pushing the Bruins hard, but it wasn’t until Rick Neuheisel was fired and a new staff was brought in, that McCarthy gave the Bruins much of a look at all.

McCarthy took an unofficial visit to UCLA in early December to meet Jim Mora and a few other members of the Bruins staff. The visit went well and McCarthy said he had a sincere interest in hearing more from the Bruins. This was after calling USC, Oregon and Cal his top three since the spring.

Ed McCarthy, McCarthy's father, had grown up with new Bruins DB coach Demetrice Martin. The two went to junior high school together and then rival high schools but still kept in close contact. Martin came in for a home visit with the family Monday night and before the night was over, he had landed the Bruins biggest commitment to date.

McCarthy will take an official visit to UCLA this weekend. There are no plans to visit any other schools. Simply stated, this is a huge commitment for the Bruins at a major position of need. Not only will he have an opportunity to come in and play early as a true freshman, but his commitment could help UCLA lure a few other elite players to Westwood.

McCarthy isn’t the only big name visiting this weekend. There are several other top prospects planning to visit, including a handful that are currently committed elsewhere.

As weird as it may sound, in recruiting, you can sometimes feel a momentum switch, similar to an actual game, and UCLA seems to have some momentum on its side. This weekend could be huge and define just what kind of recruiting class they sign come February.