Roquan Smith (6'1, 209)
Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County
No. 1 MLB, No. 62 Overall
Introduction: In just a short time, UCLA's inside linebacker depth chart has gone from one of the strengths of the team to one of the relative weaknesses. Eric Kendricks graduated this year, which takes away the most experienced player in the unit, and Zach Whitley ultimately transferred from school, taking away one of the most athletically gifted in the unit. Isaako Savaiinaea, who looked like the Mike linebacker of the future, split time this year between defensive end, linebacker, and even fullback. The result is that inside linebacker, which wasn't thought to be a huge need at the beginning of the cycle, is now much more of one. UCLA has commitments from Victor Alexander, who's an obvious inside guy, and Josh Woods, who could play there in a pinch, but getting one more talented player would be ideal. Roquan Smith, the Georgia linebacker that UCLA has been on for well over a year now, represents one of the final real options for the Bruins.
Recruitment: UCLA was the first offer for Smith, well before his junior season had even started, and he has consistently had the Bruins in his top group throughout the last year. Recently Smith has also expressed interest in Michigan, with the Wolverines jumping into his top three after his official visit there since they hired D.J. Durkin as their defensive coordinator. But the real competition appears to be Georgia, the perceived favorite in this recruitment. As with Rashaan Evans last year, it's going to be very difficult to pull the talented linebacker from the hometown school. You never know what an official visit to Los Angeles can do, though, so this is still one to watch.
Evaluation: Smith is a very good athlete, with excellent speed for the position and great lateral quickness. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he has the frame to do so. He is a multi-faceted linebacker, with the ability to blitz and play in run support, but he shines running sideline to sideline and dropping into coverage. At UCLA, he'd almost certainly play early, and depending on how things turn out at the linebacker spot next to Kenny Young, he would likely even compete to start. He's a little raw and would probably go through some growing pains (in much the same way as Young) but his upside is extremely high.
Official Visit Preview: Roquan Smith
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