UCLA Football: Defensive Backs Roster and Projected Depth Chart


Continuing our previews of position groups for UCLA Football, today we look at the talented Bruins secondary.

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Last month, the Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes ranked the UCLA secondary as the best defensive backfield in the conference. It is not surprising that UCLA Football head coach Jim Mora would have a strong secondary, as he played defensive back in college and was a defensive backs coach in the NFL for ten years before taking the 49ers defensive coordinator position in 1999.

Since Mora arrived at UCLA in 2012, he’s been stockpiling top safety and cornerback recruits, and the strength and depth of that unit bears witness to his success.

UCLA Football Defensive Backs Projected Depth Chart

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Five Guys for Four Spots

Oct 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins cornerback Fabian Moreau (10) breaks up a pass to California Golden Bears wide receiver James Grisom (85) during second quarter action at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Two players with significant playing time are coming off of medical redshirts, and only Anthony Jefferson left for the NFL; the Bruins secondary has the potential to resemble a game of musical chairs. As with other position groups we’ve covered, though, the name of the game is fluidity. Guys will be rotating in and out as needed, depending on who needs rest and what formations coordinator Tom Bradley wants to put on the field.

Senior Fabian Moreau looks to have locked down the lead cornerback spot. Moreau has a history of looking better in camp than in the season, and last year he had a very uneven campaign, but he settled down as the season wore on. He’s been working with unit coach Demetrice Martin on his ball skills and route running, and ‘Coach Meat’ is confident that Moreau’s athleticism and honed skills will allow him to step up his game.

At safety, redshirt junior Randall Goforth returns from missing most of last year due to surgeries on both shoulders. He has speed and a strength that belies his smaller frame, and his experience and expertise allow him to act as a quasi-coach to his younger teammates. Look for him to amass a ton of tackles this year.

Next to Goforth will be sophomore Jaleel Wadood (or ‘WAOOOO,’ as it appears when the font on his jersey gets distorted). Wadood filled in impressively for Goforth last year as a true freshman, and his ball-sensing skills and propensity to lay big hits make him a dangerous asset.

MORE: UCLA Football 2015 Schedule Preview – USC Trojans

Despite being first team All Pac-12 last year and on the preseason watchlists for the Hornung and Thorpe awards, redshirt junior Ishmael Adams is surprisingly the defensive back with the weakest hold on his starting slot. We all saw Adams really struggle in the second half of last year’s Alamo Bowl to rein in Kansas State‘s Tyler Lockett.

That alone wouldn’t be enough to cost Adams his job, but redshirt junior Marcus Rios is finally at full health after missing all of 2013 with a life-threatening illness. Rios impressed down the stretch last year and in spring practice to tentatively grab the corner spot opposite Moreau in the first string. I include both Rios and Adams in the starters because they may very well leapfrog each other as the season progresses. Also, whoever isn’t the starting corner is likely to be the go-to fifth back in nickel situations.

Second Unit

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

The backup cornerbacks are likely to be Johnny Johnson and DeChuan Holiday. Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, has battled injury but has displayed speed and footwork that Mora calls ‘magical.’ The freshman Holiday comes in as a four-star recruit, and, if he doesn’t redshirt, could see playing time this season.

At safety, junior Tahaan Goodman is a big hitter, but he had some key mistakes last year that allowed for big plays. Look for him to spell Goforth and Moreau. Next to him could very well be Nate Meadors, a three-star recruit who enrolled early and participated in spring camp. He has a chance to become a key part of the unit’s future.

Deep Talent Pool

Behind all of these guys are plenty of key newcomers: incoming freshmen Colin Samuel, Octavius Spencer, and Will Lockett; cornerback Denzel Fisher coming off of redshirt; and Dwight Williams both coming off of redshirt and changing positions from linebacker to safety.

UCLA Football Defensive Backs Roster

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Next: Is Bryce Alford Losing His Scholarship?

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