Recruitment: Mique Juarez emerged on the scene as a legitimate elite prospect starting in the summer between his sophomore and junior season, just before he came to the UCLA Elite Camp that year. He was offered early by USC, and the Trojans were quick to take pole position in his recruitment, to the point where he silently committed to USC in January of 2015. At that time, though, the commitment became public through USC channels, and there's some feeling that it rubbed Juarez the wrong way that it got out. UCLA, which offered Juarez soon after USC in 2014, kept recruiting him, with Scott White building a very good relationship with the prospect. Into the spring of 2015 and through the summer, UCLA began to emerge as a legitimate option for Juarez, who cooled on USC considerably over the same period. The Bruins have been in really good shape for Juarez since the end of the summer, and despite some late attempts by some SEC schools to jump into the mix, Juarez ultimately decided to stay home and take his talents to the local school, UCLA.
Evaluation: There's so much to like about Juarez as a prospect that it's difficult to know where to begin. He's an excellent all-around athlete, with great agility and underrated speed. The thing is, he's not some small guy with great athleticism -- he's a legitimate 6'2 or so and probably played at times this year around 235 or 240 pounds. He actually played both safety and linebacker for his high school team, and it's easy to see him eventually developing into a coverage mismatch similar to Myles Jack, in that it'll be a little unfair that a guy his size can cover people much smaller than him. He also has great instincts at linebacker, reacts really well to the ball, and shows great closing speed on ball carriers. He plays with a little bit of a mean streak, too, and is extremely physical. The real kicker is that he's a dynamic offensive player as well. He played quarterback in high school, unlike Jack, who was a running back, but they have similar athleticism, and Juarez made a lot of plays with his legs. There's very little question that, if he wanted to, he could play at the FBS level as an offensive player as well. He's just a great, great athlete who was built to play football in some capacity, and UCLA is lucky that he is choosing to do it for the Bruins.
Impact for UCLA: It's obvious, isn't it? Down to the initials, Juarez is as close an approximation of Myles Jack's skillset and athleticism as the Bruins are ever going to find, and it's easy to see him fitting into the defense in much the same way that Jack did. Of course, it'd be ridiculous to assume that Juarez will be anything like what Jack was by the time he was ending his sophomore year, when Jack shut down Nelson Agholor and was the most physically talented player on the field whenever he stepped on it, but Juarez could be something akin to what Jack was his freshman year -- an impact player who's occasionally out of control, but who will have flashes where he just takes over games. Juarez will probably have a bit more of an adjustment period than Jack did, given that he's coming from a lower level high school that doesn't play great competition, but he'll be enrolled for spring practice, which is something that Jack didn't do before his freshman year, so perhaps it'll be wash.
In any case, we wouldn't be stunned if Juarez starts this year. It might be a case similar to Jack where Juarez may not be slated to start the first game, but his talent will be so much that it'll get him on the field much more soon after the season begins. Either way, we'd imagine he makes an impact in his first year, and ends up a star starting linebacker by his sophomore season.null