The Opening Analysis: Defense

Scout national analysts Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman take a look at the UCLA prospects on defense at The Opening, how they did in Beaverton, and the latest in their recruitment...

Scout.com's complete coverage of The Opening 2013 presented by NIKE
Here's a quick analysis and the latest recruiting breakdown of the UCLA defensive prospects that participated in The Opening.

Defensive Lineman:

Ainuu Taua, Lompoc (Calif.)
Skinny:
UCLA remains in his top three, along with Washington and Ole Miss. Wisconsin is also in the mix.  Taua had a slow start on Day One of the Lineman Challenge but came alive on Day Two, making it to the finals of the OL/DL Challenge and earning DL 1on1 MVP of the event.  He measured in at 5.11, 271.

Solomon Thomas, Coppell (Texas)
Skinny: Thomas is keeping things pretty close to the vest, but UCLA is still on his short list.  He looked great in the linemen portion of the event, showing explosiveness off the ball and a quick first step.  He also finished with a top 20 SPARQ score.


Linebackers:

Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Skinny:
Williams remained tight-lipped about his recruitment, only saying that he has a top 16, which includes UCLA and had Stanford swap spots with USC.  Williams had a good week across the board, performing well in the NFTC and then having a strong showing in the Nike 7on, playing most of the defensive snaps and helping his team win the competition.  He measured at 6-1, 208, ran a 4.6 forty, had a 4.26 shuttle, and demonstrated a 38-inch vertical.

Rashaan Evans, Auburn (Ala.)
Skinny:
Evans has a reputation as a pass-rushing specialist, but watching him in the 7on7, he looked like an elite pass-coverage guy. He played really well in space, showing great lateral quickness and using his length to disrupt the passing game, with two picks in pool play. Both picks came on terrific plays he made to grab the ball.  His top five is heavy on the South, but UCLA is the one West Coast school on the list and he's sincerely interested in the Bruins.

Christian Miller, Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley
Skinny: Miller has great anticipation off the edge. His long strides get him to the quarterback in hurry, and his speed helps him greatly. In addition, he was one of the best in-coverage linebackers at The Opening. The 6-foot-3.5, 206 pound athlete can turn and run, allowing him to cover a lot of ground on the second level. He is also very smart. Miller, a former Florida commitment likes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and UCLA.


Defensive Backs:

Budda Baker, Bellevue (Wash.)
Skinny:
Baker has maintained a top three of Oregon, UCLA and Washington for months and that's still the case, with Arizona State and Notre Dame rounding out the top five.  Few players made the impression that Baker did during the week, and he deservedly earned all-Opening honors.  He had six touchdowns on day one and also mixed in an interception and a bigtime pass breakup the same day.  One of the premier two-way players in the country, Baker showed he could be elite at three different positions.

Adoree Jackson, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Skinny:
Jackson said he definitely plans to visit Florida, LSU and Michigan and said he will name a top seven, which will include the five schools he'll officially visit, UCLA, and USC.  Jackson, much like Baker, showed just how elite an athlete he is. While he focused mainly on corner during the Nike 7on, he played a lot of receiver at the NFTC, and had his way with the DBs.  He locked down his side of the field as a defensive back and helped his team win the 7on portion with a game-sealing pick-six in the tournament's first round.

Iman Marshall, Long Beach Poly (Calif.)- (2015)
Skinny:
Another one of just a small group of 2015 guys, Marshall more than showed he belonged.  He had some spirited 1on1s with Michiah Quick on Day One where he showed he wouldn't back down. It's safe to say he'll be back at The Opening in a year.  Marshall said he's wide open, which makes sense, given how much time he has to make a decision, but UCLA and USC are two schools he's fond of. He's visited both in the last couple of weeks.

John Plattenburg, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
Skinny:
Plattenburg said he thought about committing at The Opening, but then said he thought he might be committing just to commit, so he pushed it back. Now, he plan to trim his list to a top five.  Washington, UCLA, Baylor, Cal, Oregon and Vanderbilt make up his short list.  The four star corner lived up to his billing, using his quickness and athleticism to lock down his side of the field and make several plays on the ball throughout the day.

Adarius Pickett, El Cerrito (Calif.)
Skinny:
Pickett has 20+ offers, but "trimmed" his list to 13 schools: Utah, California, UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Washington, Oregon State, Stanford, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Virginia and Houston.   On the field, Pickett was stellar all week, earning All-Opening honors after helping his team win the Nike 7on. He ended two potential scoring drives in the finals with break-ups. 

Quincy Wilson, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University
Skinny: Wilson visited UCLA and USC before The Opening, and was impressed with both the Los Angeles schools, though he spoke more glowingly about USC.  At The Opening, he showed some versatility, but looks more suited to play safety than his desired corner.

Mattrell McGraw, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian
Skinny: McGraw visited UCLA for the third time prior to The Opening. He announced a top three at the event of Florida State, Oregon and UCLA. Oregon is thought to be the leader.  He'll camp with in-state LSU, though, and if they offer, the Tigers could be tough to beat.  McGraw ran a 4.47 in the forty, the first time he'd ran it this year.

John Bonney, Houston (Texas) Lamar
Skinny: Bonney got an offer from UCLA this spring, and the Bruins are certainly in the mix for him. He was on campus for the B2G Elite Camp and enjoyed his time there.  Bonney is childhood best friends with John Plattenburg, and the two have talked about playing together in college.  Bonney was excellent all week in both the NFTC and the Nike 7on.  A smooth, instinctive safety with good quickness and smarts, the four-star prospect seemed to regularly be in the right places at the right times and impressed us with his overall coverage ability.


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