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Neuheisel's first recruiting effort is for Walker

December 30, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Rick Neuheisel, barely half an hour into the UCLA football coaching job, was already selling.

Asked whether he wanted to keep Bruins defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who was a candidate for the job and the key to the program's recruiting efforts, Neuheisel said, "DeWayne is my No. 1 recruit."

Over the last month, high school players who have committed to UCLA and their families have lobbied for Walker. At the same time, many have explored opportunities at other schools as a backup plan.

"We've all been wondering what was going happen," said Milton Knox, a star running back from Lake Balboa Birmingham High. "I will need to sit down with the new coach and see if I'm the type of running back that he wants."

Neuheisel said he would meet with Walker and ask him to stay. Walker has an offer to become the defensive coordinator at Washington at a higher salary, sources familiar with UCLA said.

Walker would seem a perfect complement to Neuheisel, whose strengths are on the offensive side. Walker has said he would sit down with the new coach and see if it was a "fit."

"I was very, very impressed with the defense he played the last couple years," Neuheisel said. "All the people I have talked to about DeWayne raved about his character."

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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