Quarterback Tommy Maddox's decision last week to leave UCLA and make himself available for the NFL draft left Bruin Coach Terry Donahue scurrying for possible replacements.
Donahue added two quarterbacks to the roster Wednesday, the first day of the weeklong national football signing period.
Scott Fitterer of Kennedy High in Burien, Wash., and Ryan Fien of Royal High in Simi Valley signed letters of intent with UCLA. Both expressed interest in finishing high school early so they can participate in spring drills in April.
"I want to get started right away," Fitterer said. "I don't want anyone to get a jump on the (starting) job. If there's a chance I could play next year, I want to give it my best shot."
Fien, 6 feet 4 and 200 pounds, said he is looking into graduating early in order to have more time to work his way up the ladder.
Maddox, a two-year starter with two years of eligibility remaining, is second on the school's all-time passing yardage and total offense lists. His 33 touchdowns is third on the all-time list.
The four quarterbacks who will compete to replace him have little or no college experience. Wayne Cook, a redshirt sophomore from Newbury Park, has taken eight snaps in two games. Rob Walker, a freshman from Austin, Tex., was a redshirt last season.
Bill Rees, UCLA recruiting coordinator, said signing quarterbacks was a top priority.
"We originally just wanted to get one quarterback," Rees said. "But when Maddox decided to leave early, we felt we had to get two. We were fortunate things worked out."
Fitterer and Fien are not believed to have been the school's top quarterback prospects. Chris Walsh of St. Paul Cretin-Derham Hall, Minn., and Shea Morenz of San Angelo Central, Tex., were generally thought to be Donahue's first choices.
Walsh, the brother of New Orleans Saint and former Miami quarterback Steve Walsh, made an unwritten commitment to Hurricanes two weeks ago.
While Morenz was still considering UCLA, Fien made an unwritten commitment to Texas on Jan. 19. But when Maddox announced he was leaving last Friday, Fien changed his mind and announced Monday he would attend UCLA. Later that day, Morenz picked Texas.
Fitterer also recanted on an earlier decision. He made an unwritten commitment to California in early December, but when Coach Bruce Snyder left for Arizona State, Fitterer decided to visit Westwood. He gave Donahue an unwritten commitment Jan. 21.
"I was really looking forward to learning from Maddox," Fitterer said. "The news that he decided to leave was both good and bad. While I won't have a chance to know him, I know I am in a position to play right away. And since I'm not one to sit around and watch, this is a golden opportunity."
Fitterer, 6-2 and 192, played his senior season with a broken right thumb, which he hit on the helmet of a defender during a scrimmage a week before the first game. He refused to have a cast put on it and did not miss a practice or game.
Fien was a three-year starter at Royal, finishing his career with 4,542 yards and 50 touchdowns.
UCLA signed 19 players, 13 from California. Its most prized recruit might be Jonathan Ogden, a 6-8, 325-pound offensive lineman from St. Albans in Washington, D.C.
USC, coming off a 3-8 season, concentrated its recruiting efforts on defense. Of the Trojans' 24 signees, six are linebackers. They also signed six running backs, but Coach Larry Smith said some might be switched to defensive backs. "We tried to get defensive players at every position, and not just one deep," Smith said.
With running back Mazio Royster declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft a year early, USC needed more depth at the position. Smith said Scott Fields (6-3, 200) of La Puente Bishop Amat and Shawn Walters (6-0, 215) of Arlington Lamar, Tex., are "immediate attention-getters."
Walters rushed for 2,091 yards and scored 30 touchdowns last season.
PREP SIGNINGS LIST: C11