2014 Recruiting Analysis: Defensive Backs

In the final installment, we finish off with the safety and cornerback prospects UCLA, at this point, is most likely to get in the 2014 class...

2014 Recruiting Analysis

Part 1: The Quarterbacks
Part 2: RBs, OLs
Part 3: WRs, TEs
Part 4: DLs, LBs

UCLA football, in recruiting the 2014 class, has a chance to take another step forward.

In 2012, UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora and his staff brought in the #12-ranked class, only a matter of days after coming on the job in Westwood.

In 2013, after the Bruins had a good season in 2012, and much was made of Mora turning around UCLA football, UCLA then signed the nation's #5-ranked class.

The 2014 UCLA class will be a little different, with UCLA probably not having the 25-27 scholarships to give like they did in 2012 and 2013, but probably more in the 17-20 range. Given that the Bruins have filled up on bodies for 2012 and 2013, and the smaller projected class, UCLA will almost certainly take a decidedly different tact with 2014, and be far more selective.

It might feel a bit different to all the BRO recruitniks, too; there will be recruits you would normally think that UCLA should be on in any other year, but they simply aren't in 2014.

It's March, so it's very early, and we know that any list of UCLA's top targets is going to look considerably different by next January. But with the smaller projected class, and UCLA being more selective, with its big board having far less names on it for 2014, it gives us a chance to perhaps get a better earlier handle on how the class might ultimately shape up.

The following list isn't at all comprehensive. It doesn't even have all of the prospects UCLA has offered on it. But, as of right now, in March, these are the guys that 1) UCLA has as a top target and 2) are doing really well with so far, and we think they'll have a legitimate chance to get and 3) we can see the scenario of how they'll end up at UCLA. So that means there are plenty of players, like say Michiah Quick, Nathan Starks or Malachi Dupre, that aren't on the list -- not because UCLA hasn't offered them or isn't recruiting them hard, but we just don't think they're prospects that UCLA ultimately will get.

In other words, this could be a far-premature but realistic guess (based on what we know at this time) at how UCLA's 2014 class might shake out.

SAFETY: (1)

Primary Targets:

Juju Smith, 6-1, 185, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, #1 S
Budda Baker, 5-10, 180, Bellevue (Wash.), #5 S

Others Most Likely:

Jeff Farrar, 6-1, 195, Upland (Calif.), #47
Nick Glass, 6-2, 200, Suwanee (Georgia) Peachtree Ridge, #29
Brandon Simmons, 6-1, 180, Arlington (Tex.) Mansfield Timberview, #8
Adam Soesman, 6-2, 175, Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan, #45
Koa Farmer, 6-1, 195, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, #28
Quentin Tartabull, 5-10, 180, Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany, #34
Glen Ihenacho, 5-11, 180, Gardena (Calif.) Serra, #53
Quincy Wilson, 6-1, 195, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School of Nova Scotia, #32

Analysis:

After taking two top-ten safety prospects in 2014, Tyler Foreman and Tahaan Goodman, and with the possibility that Priest Willis could end up a safety, UCLA looks good at the position. There are two prospects, however, they would take immediately – Smith and Baker. Smith is a very effective receiver, but he's such a great athlete and probably fits longterm better as a safety that Scout has him ranked the #1 safety prospect in the country. Baker is also an elite athlete, and he's good friends with UCLA-committed 2013 linebacker Myles Jack.

UCLA has been, and probably will continue to be, very selective in whom they offer at safety, since they probably are going to take just one. They've offered most of the top-ten safety prospects in the country, and probably don't have a chance with them, except for a slight chance with Simmons. The word is, though, he's leaning to Stanford, and he'll visit UCLA on a west coast swing this spring. UCLA assistant Adrian Klemm was the first to offer him a scholarship as a freshman when Klemm was at SMU. Glass spent his own money to come to UCLA's Meet-and-Greet, so there's some interest there. UCLA recently offered Wilson, and he's said he'll probably visit this spring. It's pretty well known that UCLA likes Farrar, and he could be a safety or receiver, but he'll have to improve his academics. Ihenacho could be a guy that would be next on the list to offer if it's getting a bit late and neither Smith, Baker or the national prospects are close to committing.

CORNER BACK: (2)

Primary Targets:

Adoree Jackson, 5-10, 175, Gardena (Calif.) Serra, #2 CB
Adarius Pickett, 5-11, 175, El Cerrito (Calif.), #24
Jonathan Lockett, 5-11, 175, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, #25

Others Most Likely:

Naijiel Hale, 5-11, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, #23,
Denzel Fisher, 6-2, 170, Compton (Calif.) Centennial, #46
Malik Cyphers, 5-10, 175, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, #50
Jaleel Wadood, 5-11, 170, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, #21 CB
Rodney Carr, 5-11, 185, Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian, #44

Analysis:

UCLA, like with safeties, has offered most of the elite cornerback prospects in the nation, but just a few on the west coast. Jackson and Pickett are #1 and #2 on their board, and Lockett isn't too far below that. Any duo combination of those three and UCLA would be popping corks. Heck, just getting Jackson would be cork-popping enough. As we said in the receiver analysis, Jackson very well might project as a cornerback in college and in the pros, but he's a potentially game-changing offensive player, too. He's the #1 prospect in the west, and UCLA has a good chance with him.

Among the "Others" list, we could see UCLA getting very serious about Fisher. He's performed well this spring, is the type of tall, long athlete UCLA wants at corner, and he has said UCLA is his favorite. Any combination of Fisher and one prospect from Jackson, Pickett and Lockett would also be cork-worthy. Hale is really emerging as a great corner prospect, being compared to UCLA-committed Johnny Johnson. UCLA is a little behind in recruiting him, but they're starting to pick it up. Cyphers is also a guy with a good chance of getting a UCLA offer, especially if he comes to a UCLA camp and performs well. Wadood, committed to Arizona State, might be better suited at safety, could be a swing type of player, and we'll see if UCLA gets serious with him. Carr would probably be the next guy on the list.


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