Nov 22, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Mossi Johnson (14) runs with the ball against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
UCLA added another dynamic athlete to its 2016 football recruiting class, as Marquis Lawson from Crenshaw announced his commitment to the Bruins.
Impressed by the results they’ve seen so far from another under-the-radar Crenshaw alum in Mossi Johnson, the Bruins have decided to dip back into Crenshaw and the LA City Section again to snag two-way recruit Marquis Lawson, a shifty athlete who plays both wide receiver and cornerback for the Cougars.
Lawson is the definition of a sleeper recruit, as UCLA was the first, and remains as the only, school to offer him. In fact, Lawson is such a sleeper that only one recruiting service has even rated him, with Scout listing him as a 3-star athlete. None of 24/7, ESPN, or Rivals have had a close enough look at Lawson to give him an even cursory evalutation. However, with the recruiting prowess of this staff and the number of highly-touted prospects still on the board for the Bruins at both receiver and cornerback, the UCLA staff must see something special in Lawson for it to have doggedly pursued him in the manner it did despite there being little competition for his services.
There are two obvious reasons why Lawson’s profile has remained low on the recruiting trail to date. The biggest knock on Lawson and the factor probably negatively affecting his recruitment the most has been an element totally out of his control: his size. Standing at 5-foot-8, Lawson is obviously diminutive for the high-level prospect.
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Furthermore, it is widely known in West Coast recruiting circles that players in the inner-city, especially the LA City Section, are under-recruited for many reasons. The schools in that part of the city receive much less publicity for their teams; the schools do not have the resources to showcase their players’ talents with glitzy highlight reels; and the largely under-privileged players attending these schools lack the personal resources to take measures that players at the private schools do, like hiring personal position coaches and strength coaches to accelerate their development in high school. City Section recruits generally arrive at their schools far more raw than their peers, but with far more upside during their college careers because of that lack of refinement in high school.
As Bruin fans have seen in Mossi Johnson, City Section players who do get the chance to shine on bigger stages have shown themselves to be players that, at a bare minimum, are tough, physical, and completely fearless. Following in that lineage, Lawson’s film shows him to be exactly those things, whether he’s playing on offense, defense, or special teams. Lawson also sprinkles in a bit of magic with his elusiveness and sudden burst in small spaces.
Interestingly, despite Crenshaw alum and UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber being the designated recruiter for the LA City Section on the UCLA coaching staff, it was actually defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin who broke the news of Lawson’s commitment early Thursday morning on Twitter. The Los Angeles Times‘s Eric Sondheimer indicated in June, when the Bruins offered Lawson a scholarship, that the staff saw Lawson as a defensive back and Martin’s involvement in today’s scoop does nothing to dispel the idea that the Bruins intend to bring in Lawson as a defensive back.
Welcome to Westwood, Marquis!