The UCLA football recruiting class now consists of 11 “commitments” and has done relatively well thus far. UCLA has done a good job of recruiting out of state and has piqued the interest of key prospects across the nation.
One of those prospects is four- to five-star safety/cornerback Priest Willis out of Tempe, AZ. Recently, BSR ran a nice story detailing how much the coaching staff connected with Willis’ family, which is something he has yet to come across. Here’s some tidbits:
For Willis, his recruitment may come down to this: A two-year old baby girl.
“She’s my only sibling in Arizona,” Willis said of his two-year-old baby sister. “I have to mature around her, watch the stuff I do around her — which helps me grow up. I need to grow up for college, and it just helps me stay straight, stay focused and become overprotective. I have to have that protective mentality, I have to get serious a lot, because it’s my little sister and I have to take care of her.”
“The coaches, they just loved her,” Willis said with a smile. “It was great. It was just a great experience for us. My baby sister, she really loved all the coaching staff.”
It was an experience Willis hasn’t had with any other coaches or campuses he’s seen. Schools talk about family and preach it all the time, but the Bruins were the first ones to actually show Willis they meant it.
We suggest you read the whole thing, despite our hate for big companies like Rivals. All in all, you have to love how the coaching staff is appealing to these recruits and, more importantly, you have to love the attitude and prioritization/maturity that Willis seems to display. These kinds of things from 17-year olds aren’t common, so embrace them.
Regardless, this dude is a prospect and we will break him down. First, though, enjoy some game tape:
From this tape, we can probably conclude that he’s versatile; although the video quality is shoddy, it looks as if he does a good job in coverage and can cover ground pretty quickly. He also seems to be a decent tackler — though we’ve noticed some mistakes — and can track down ball-carriers really effectively. He’s also returned a few kicks in that video and does a good job of squeezing between blocks and using his speed to accelerate past defenders.
Do the scouting reports agree with this analysis? As always, to a degree.
The reports like Willis’ versatility, and that’s mainly due to his speed and his size — he’s 6’2” weighing in at 200 pounds — which is bigger than your average cornerback. The reports, however, love his ability to play the safety position as well as cover most wide-outs and can compete with bigger wide receivers which are the ones that cause most cornerbacks serious trouble. The scouts also like his ability to get position and fight for jump-balls thanks to his athleticism and size.
They also rave on about his ability to play underneath and limit large yard gains off of short passes. They may knock on his tackling skills a tad here, but overall, his ability to wrap up the ball-carrier is a plus.
Overall, Willis is a solid defensive back. Currently, UCLA is lacking in depth at the secondary and we don’t want this to carry over into the next season, so Willis should be a valuable prospect for UCLA to make extra efforts to recruit.