UCLA Football: Jaleel Wadood poised to lead a young Bruin defense

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26: Jaleel Wadood
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26: Jaleel Wadood /

Jaleel Wadood has been a mainstay in the UCLA Football defense since he arrived on campus his freshman year, earning immediate playing time. Now, entering his senior season, Wadood looks to lead a young Bruin secondary that’s loaded with talent.

The 2017 version of UCLA Football’s defense is loaded with talent at all levels, but the secondary has the potential to be one of the best in all of college football.

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Considering UCLA plays in a conference filled with Sam Darnold, Luke Falk, and Jake Browning (just to name a few), the secondary may well be the most important part of this year’s defense.

Last season’s secondary quietly put together an incredible season. With veteran safety Jaleel Wadood patrolling the back end of the secondary, the Bruins had the third best pass defense in the Pac-12, allowing only 210.5 yards per game. Next season’s secondary has the potential to be even better.

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Though DC Tom Bradley‘s defense is loaded, it is young, with just three seniors as projected starters for week one, including Wadood, who is the only senior projected to start in the secondary.

Wadood’s leadership will be especially important in the development of incoming five-star freshman Darnay Holmes, who is expected to start at one of the cornerback positions in his first game at the Rose Bowl.

Wadood will make Holmes’ job easier, as he knows he will have one of the best safetys in the conference backing him up. Additionally, having Holmes be a lockdown corner will help Wadood to be more of a ball hawk and make more plays all over the field.

All of the stars seem to be aligned for Wadood to have an All-Conference or possibly even an All-American type of season and people are starting to notice. Jack Follman of Pacific Takes ranks Wadood as the best defensive back in the Pac-12 conference coming into the 2017 season, ahead of Washington’s Taylor Rapp and USC’s Iman Marshall.

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The talent is there for Wadood and there is talent around him. If Wadood puts it all together, look for a big season from the Bruin defense.