Priest Willis to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star Safety Recruit

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2013

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It's official—Marcos De Niza defensive back Priest Willis has signed with UCLA. reporter Richard Obert had the news:

Marcos de Niza DB Priest Willis chooses UCLA over ASU and LSU.

— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) January 24, 2013

Rated as a 4-star prospect by 247Sports' composite rankings, Willis brings excellent length, speed and physicality to the secondary.

He's listed at 6'2" and 200 pounds, and Rivals has him running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds and maxing his bench press at 285 pounds. 

247Sports' composite rankings have Willis as the sixth-best player at his position available in this year's class and the 45th-best overall recruit. With his combination of size, speed and strength, it's easy to see why.

ESPN Insider provided the following scouting report on the exciting young talent:

Willis is very versatile and has a great combination of size and closing speed at the cornerback position. He will be able to matchup with today's bigger college receivers and also set the edge on run support. Has a nose for the ball, but he needs to continue working on his reads, particularly out of different coverage schemes. In coverage, he shows the ability to make deep plays and also limit the run after catch underneath. He has a lot of range. Shows good ball skills and will go up and compete utilizing his size and proper positioning.

Here's a little bit more scouting on Willis:

Not surprisingly, Willis had a slew of offers from major programs, including Nebraska, Florida State, LSU, Arkansas, Boise State, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and West Virginia, among others.

Willis helped lead Marcos De Niza to the Arizona Division II state semifinals, where the team lost to Tucson Ironwood Ridge, 35-21. Willis had made it a priority to focus on the team's season even in the midst of heavy recruiting, so the result was surely tough to stomach.

Given his size and range, Willis could potentially make the move to safety in college, namely free safety. He has proven to be a willing contributor in run support and has the size to lay a lick at the safety position, so if he doesn't adjust as a cornerback at the next level, safety could be in his future.

That sort of versatility makes him all the more valuable a signing.


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