Juarez Very Interested In UCLA

Apr. 24 -- Four-star linebacker Mique Juarez says his relationship with Scott White has been key in his growing interest in UCLA...

We had a chance to check out four-star North Torrance linebacker Mique Juarez at a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Redondo Beach last night, and Juarez played basically every position for his team, filling in at quarterback, safety, cornerback, and linebacker. He's 6'2 and 222 pounds right now, so he's pretty clearly a linebacker at the next level, but it was impressive seeing how athletically gifted and coordinated he is. It's no stretch to think that he could be a very good coverage linebacker, with the ability to line up against receivers in man coverage. If he wanted to play quarterback, actually, he'd probably be an FBS-level prospect, though probably not Pac-12 level.

We talked with him after his scrimmage about his recruitment, and once again, it sounds like UCLA has made up a ton of ground on the USC commit, and a big part of that has been his growing relationship with UCLA linebackers coach Scott White.

"Right now, we're just getting closer and closer each day," Juarez said of his relationship with White. "Just talking to each other on Twitter, getting to know each other more and more, and then just taking visits. It's actually becoming like a bond now. If that's the school I go to, or wherever I go, you're supposed to be talking to your position coach, not other coaches, just because that's the friendship and bond you're supposed to build with."

Juarez recently visited campus for a couple of different trips, one to take in a spring practice, and the other for the annual Tom Lemming photo shoot, and he said that between the two trips, what stood out to him the most was being able to sit with White and talk about how the Bruins would use him.

"That was outstanding," Juarez said. "I had a great time taking pictures, going around UCLA, talking to the coaches in their office, and then watching film with Coach Scott White. That was a great experience. Just listening to what Coach White said at the table, watching film, the way he'd say he'd use me (stood out). Honestly, visualizing it, seeing it, that's the way they want to use me, it was like dang, that's what I want to do. Scott White, he showed me a lot and made my mind open more."

Juarez has drawn some lofty comparisons from both the USC staff and the UCLA staff, and judging by what we saw of him on Thursday, while he has some work to do to reach such heights, the comparisons aren't too insanely off.

Mique Juarez.
"Both schools are recruiting me at inside linebacker," Juarez said. "USC sees me doing kind of what Su'a Cravens is doing, that inside linebacker/safety spot, and in terms of UCLA they compare me to Myles Jack. I love Su'a Cravens and I love Myles Jack, he's just a freak athlete out there on the field, and Su'a Cravens, he just comes with the hit, he's a great player out there. I look up to both of them, especially Myles Jack."

Juarez, who committed to USC in January before the Trojans signed their stacked 2015 linebacker class, has said that depth chart is part of what's giving him pause about USC at the moment, and on Thursday, he reiterated that concern.

"Seeing USC having so many commits, and signing people this year, yeah I look into depth chart because I want to play my freshman year," Juarez said. "I don't want to be sitting around waiting for my time, I want to show the coaches what I have, so I'm looking at the depth chart. Obviously, having so many people to beat out, or have been there already, it's kind of hard to actually get that position."

Juarez is an interesting case, as far as Los Angeles-area kids go. Most recruits who are fairly savvy about the recruiting process will tell you they rooted for both USC and UCLA as kids, but when Juarez says it, he actually means it.

"I was a USC fan, and then as I got to sixth grade, I became a UCLA fan because of my dad," Juarez said. "It's UCLA all the way with him."

So, clearly, Juarez has some interesting months ahead of him as he continues to weight the pros and cons of not just USC and UCLA, but the many other schools that are starting to recruit him, including Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, Washington, Nebraska, and others. He says that observers shouldn't expect a final decision anytime soon.

"Right now, I'm just keeping my options open," Juarez said. "I'm just enjoying the recruiting process right now. Anything can happen. These are all great schools. To be honest, my decision will be ready when it's time to sign."

That day could come earlier than it does for most kids, however, since Juarez would like to enroll early at the school of his choice, and is taking steps to make that happen.

"Right now, I'm on that road," Juarez said. "I just need to keep doing what I'm doing. I need to finish this semester and then take Econonmics and Government over summer because that's a requirement I must finish."

Most schools are recruiting Juarez as a linebacker, but as we said above, he has some versatility, and BYU, for one, is actually recruiting him as a quarterback. Interestingly, quarterback was his initial preference in terms of position.

"That's actually the position I was willing to play, the position I wanted to play," Juarez said. "But just getting bigger and stronger, linebacker is the position everyone wants me at. My freshman and sophomore year, I thought I could play corner, but I'm just getting too big and too tall. I'm 6'2, 222 right now, and I'm just hoping I can get another inch on me. My dad wants me to get to 235. My dad is 6'5 and my mom is 5'7, so we'll see."

Juarez will be at the UCLA spring game this Saturday.

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