Recruitment: If you can believe it, UCLA probably led for Brandon Burton, a Serra kid, from last spring to now. It's obviously rare for that to be the case with a prospect from Gardena Serra, but UCLA recruited him hard the whole way and much credit has to be given to Demetrice Martin for landing him. Burton was looking primarily at UCLA and Florida State for the longest time, but there was always a feeling that he would opt to stay local. He was set to announce during the All-American game announcements earlier this month, but held off when there was talk that Jim Mora might leave UCLA. Mora opted to stay, and despite a late push from childhood favorite USC, Burton opted to commit to the Bruins Tuesday night before Signing Day.
Evaluation: Burton is a talented athlete with the ability to make an impact on either side of the ball. Watching him last spring, there was a constant debate about which position was best for him among scouts and analysts. For our part, we tended toward the side that we thought he might make a better receiver than safety, but he certainly has the potential to play at a high level on either side. He'll likely play safety more than receiver to start out at UCLA, and at that position, he has the size, toughness, and instincts to make an impact early for the Bruins, who desperately need both of those qualities in the defensive backfield. He's not an uber-explosive prospect, but he's improved his speed and quickness every year thanks to his dogged work ethic. He's a natural leader and it'd be easy to see him being a captain of the defense by his junior year.
Impact for UCLA: While you almost certainly wouldn't project Burton ending up starting his first year, stranger things have happened, and he has certain qualities that might make him an attractive option for UCLA, with an advanced feel for the game from the safety spot, as well as the aformentioned size and toughness -- he really is one of those classic guys who plays bigger than he is. In any case, it'd be easy to see him playing his first year as a third or fourth safety and then potentially starting in his second year for the departed Randall Goforth. As we said, he has versatility, and he was pitched on the idea of being a two-way player, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him get some reps at receiver. He has very, very good hands, so we'd anticipate him being at least the "safe" punt and kick returner at some point in his career. This is a really good pickup for UCLA, as Burton has the potential to be one of those glue-type guys who fills a lot of different roles.