Nate Iese is a lot of things. He’s a linebacker, a defensive end, a tight end and now, he’s a UCLA football commit. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound athlete was offered by almost 20 schools to play one of three positions.
Iese, who is finishing up his senior year at Sheldon High School in the Sacramento area, chose to be a Bruin where he will play as a hybrid OLB-DE in UCLA’s new 3-4 defense. The staff also said he would play a little tight end if needed in a pinch.
Of the schools that offered Iese, (a list that included Cal, Nebraska, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State) he ultimately narrowed it down to UCLA and Nebraska before choosing UCLA last week.
Iese is now one of UCLA’s 25 current commitments and it would a surprise if he signed with anyone other than the Bruins next week. Here’s the conversation that Inside UCLA Campus Correspondent Jacob Ruffman had with Iese:
Ruffman: You made your choice not too long ago, talk me through the decision.
Iese:” I was coming close to making a decision and I kept a couple of schools on my list. Oregon State, Nevada, Nebraska and UCLA were all recruiting me really hard and those were my top schools. I eventually called up Oregon State and told them I wanted to be closer to home. I kept Nebraska in there because I thought they were worth being that far from home. Eventually it came down to UCLA and Nebraska and they kept visiting me and coming to my school and then Cal offered, which made me think a little bit. But what happened with coach Tosh Lupoi made me second guess taking a visit out there and I made my decision to go to UCLA then.”
JR: You were offered at several positions, what does UCLA want you to play?
NI: “I talked with (linebackers) coach Jeff Ulbrich and coach Mora and they wanted to see me as a hybrid linebacker who can put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer but also be able to drop back into coverage. The also told me that I’ll play a little bit of tight end if they need me there.”
JR: You’ve kept in touch with several recruits throughout the process including fellow UCLA commit Marcus Rios, Shaq Thompson and several others. Talk about the relationships you’ve built through the process.
NI: “It was a great experience when Marcus and I took our trip to Nebraska together. We knew each other a little bit before because we had worked out over the summer at True Grit program and then we played against each other during the season so it was really nice to go down there with someone you know. We both ended up liking the school a lot and then we decided we were going to make our decision together. A little time went by and we didn’t keep in touch too much but then he committed to UCLA a little bit earlier than I did. I was really happy for him and it didn’t have a major effect on me but knowing that he was there made me a little more comfortable with UCLA.”
JR: Neuheisel and the old staff were the ones who offered you so did it effect your decision when the new staff came in?
NI: “I would never choose a school because of a coach and a lot of things change during the recruiting process. When I found out coach Neuheisel got fired it made me second guess some things but I really liked the school and that was what mattered most. To be honest I didn’t even know who coach Jim Mora was – I knew who his dad was, but when I met him I could tell he was very determined to come out and recruit me and a couple of other kids. He’s really committed to what he’s doing and I really respected him a lot for that.”
JR: Now that you’re committed and done with the process, what are you saying to some of the other recruits?
NI: I have been talking with Shaq (Thompson) a little bit. I know he was interested in Cal but he ended up decommitting and that opened my eyes and gave me a chance to talk to him to see where he’s at with his recruitment. I respect what he’s doing and he’s waiting it out. He’s making sure he’s making the best decision for himself but we would love to have him at UCLA. He’s a great player, as everyone knows, and a good friend as well. I would love to be able to play on the field with him and that would be a great opportunity and a privilege. So I’ve been talking to him a little bit and I just got his number the other day and I’m going to start texting him and see where he’s at with his recruiting.”
JR: What are you looking forward to most about getting to UCLA?
NI: “I would have to say football, most definitely. It’s always academics first but I love football, I love the game and I can’t wait to see what coach Mora’s got in store for us as a team, not just the recruits. It seems like it’s all about the recruits when you’re getting recruited because everyone wants you but you have to remember that there are players already there and everyone is going to fight for their spot. I know that coach Mora is going to give everyone a fair shot to fight to play at their position so I can’t wait to get out there and compete.”
JR: Now, I have to ask this Nate – how long have you really known that you were going to UCLA? You put up pretty early on in the process that UCLA was your place of work on Facebook which leads me to think you were pretty convinced.
NI: Yeah, I ended up putting that up the day that I got offered from them. I knew in a way that I wanted to go to UCLA. It was one of my top schools before I got offered or was even getting recruited. They ended up offering and when they offered that was the most excited I had ever been about getting an offer. Right after they offered me I ended up putting that up (on Facebook) and my dad kept telling me to take it down because it wasn’t a good look for recruiting and things like that. I didn’t want to take it off though. I hadn’t committed yet but I always kind of knew.”