SAN ANTONIO - Gerard Wicks has always wanted to play at UCLA so when the Bruins started showing interest in the Long Beach (Calif.) Poly running back it was a big moment for him.
"UCLA right now stands out," Wicks said at Thursday's Army National Combine registration. "I always liked UCLA when I was younger, my family liked USC, but I want to go to a school where I can build the program up.
"The (UCLA coaches) were telling me to keep my grades up and keep playing hard and they like what they see from me so far. That's big because that's my favorite school right now."
Wicks, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect in the 2013 class, said Colorado, Alabama, Cal, Stanford and Washington are some other schools involved. In his junior season, Wicks rushed for 845 yards and 13 touchdowns in a two-back system.
Many of Long Beach Poly's standout players in the 2012 class are committed to Arizona State but they are soft pledges and Wicks said some might seriously consider UCLA before signing day.
That would only help Wicks' changes of landing with the Bruins - if he's offered - because staying close to home and playing with teammates would definitely be a big draw.
"Mostly the Pac-12 schools are recruiting me and I was born in Alabama so I would love to go to Alabama," Wicks said. "I have letters and stuff from them and that would be big for me.
"We have the whole bunch that's going to ASU but everybody is talking about UCLA. The coach at Arizona State (Steve Broussard) got fired and now they're looking more at UCLA.
"Arizona State offers that spread offense, that's good for receivers and they could play early. They were saying at UCLA they were going to change the offense and now they're more interested. The coach (Jim Mora) stands out the most. He has NFL experience and everything."