The Bruins turned a Trojan defeat into a win of their own.
Class of 2023 defense attorney Grant Buckey has made a verbal commitment to UCLA football, the product of Liberty High School (CA), announced on Twitter Thursday. Buckey had been committed to crosstown rivals USC since June 15, but he transitioned from one Los Angeles school to another as the cycle neared its end.
Buckey also had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, San Jose State, Stanford, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Washington and Washington State.
Buckey told 247Sports that he will still be competing in high school track and field this winter and therefore won’t graduate or sign his national letter of intent until February.
UCLA received Buckey for an official visit on May 14, a few weeks before taking his officer to USC.
In 12 games with Liberty this season, Buckey totaled 52 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 20 quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. As a junior, Buckey recorded 51 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two passes defended.
Measuring 6ft 5 and 265 pounds, Buckey played a defensive end at Liberty. However, defensive coach Chad Kauha’aha’a led the recruiting of the Bakersfield native, allowing him to move inside at the college level rather than remain on the fringes.
Buckey’s father, Jeff, was an offensive lineman at Stanford before spending four years in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers. Buckey’s older brother, Zach, is currently a defense attorney for the cardinal.
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Buckey is a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and On3. In the 247Sports Composite, Buckey is ranked the No. 39 player in California, the No. 62 defenseman in the country, and a potential No. 551 in his class.
There are only two defensemen above Buckey at California State — five-star obligation Matayo Uiagalelei and three-star Stanford conscript Cameron Brandt, who told 247Sports he’s heard from UCLA’s coaches since David Shaw resigned on Sunday.
The UCLA class of 2023 rose from 62nd in the national rankings to 59th following Buckey’s signing. USCs, on the other hand, fell from No. 13 to No. 14.
Buckey is now one of two defensemen in the Bruins’ 11-man class – not counting Jake Heimlicher, who was signed Tuesday night. Liberty High School (NV) three-star product AJ Fuimaono made a commitment to UCLA back in July.
Veteran defenseman Hayden Harris entered the transfer portal Wednesday while former Harvard transfer Jacob Sykes and often-injured sixth-grader Martin Andrus Jr. exhausted their college eligibility this season. Depending on who gets in where, the Bruins appear to be zero on the defensive line at the moment, with two freshmen and a transfer replacing two seniors and a transfer.
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PHOTO COURTESY OF GRANT BUCKEY/TWITTER