Recruitment: Keyon Riley emerged last spring as a Pac-12 level prospect, and UCLA took notice, offering the three-star in August of last year. Since then, the thinking was that Riley was a pretty heavy lean, but he wanted to go through the process a bit to make sure UCLA was the right fit for him. He had offers from schools like Wisconsin, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Oregon State, and more, but chose the Bruins this weekend while on his official visit to Westwood. He ended up picking UCLA primarily over Washington and Colorado State, opting to go to the hometown school.
Evaluation: Riley is an intriguing prospect, with very good size for the corner position and good size for the safety position as well. He probably projects best as a safety, at 6'2 and 200 pounds already, which is where we have him ranked. He's a good athlete who plays with a physical edge, and unlike some defensive backs, he isn't afraid to hit. While we don't have a 40 time for him, he certainly appears to have pretty good top end speed, from what we've seen in person and on film. The big key for him is that he simply needs to gain more experience -- he really didn't play much his junior year, so his senior season was pretty much what UCLA had to go on from an evaluation standpoint. That said, Riley being a little raw at this point means he still has some real upside. If UCLA can get him up to speed quickly on the finer points of playing defensive back, he could make a nice impact for the Bruins.
Impact for UCLA: We've talked at length about UCLA's need to get bigger at safety, given how often UCLA's defensive backs struggled to tackle this season, and Riley certainly fits that mold. He's a big safety with the ability to hit, and it's easy to see him lining up at safety for a bigger, more physical UCLA defense in a couple of years. He even has room to grow beyond his current 200 pounds, and if the goal is to get a big box safety, Riley might be a great fit. The Bruins have some depth at safety, even if UCLA is short on top end talent, so Riley wouldn't need to make a huge impact until 2017 or later, which should give him time to get more acclimated to the college game and build up physically. UCLA has done well with three-star defensive backs of late, with both Nathan Meadors and Octavius Spencer projecting as starters down the road, so the hope is that Riley is more of the same.null