UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said this week that he’s coaching the deepest secondary he’s ever had in Westwood — one that will also welcome a highly touted freshman this summer in four-star recruit Dechaun Holiday.
Much of that has been due to Martin’s own recruiting efforts, landing multiple four-star prospects every cycle. This year, the Bruins’ top five defensive backs have 80 combined games of starting experience in this system.
The assistant coach broke down a few of his players.
On cornerback Marcus Rios, who put on more than 20 pounds since the end of last season:
“Now he’s feelin’ a lot more cushion for the pushin’. I always joke with him, say he took his legs off and attached them to his shoulders, put his arms on his legs. He’s able to run into guys, feeling real muscular. … He’s fearless, man.”
On cornerback Fabian Moreau, who struggled out of the gates in what was a heavily hyped junior campaign:
“I call him a Cadillac. He’s a such a smooth, powerful guy, where sometimes he feels like he’s in great position, and then it looks like he relaxes. Last year, a lot of times where you see him versus the deep ball, he’s running stride for stride with a guy — and then when he locates the ball, his feet stop. That’s something we’ve got to work on and constantly be on. Hopefully those plays now, when he’s in good position, they can turn into interceptions.”
On cornerback Johnny Johnson, a four-star recruit in 2013 who has yet to play a down due to shoulder injuries:
“He’s the one-armed bandit out there. He’s still carrying that arm real cautiously, but he’s not afraid to stick his face in there. He has awesome feet. His feet put him in very good positions. Now when he’s able to use that shoulder, and use that other hand, he’s going to be something special. … I can’t wait until he gets all the way healthy.”
On safety Randall Goforth, who missed most of 2014 and underwent surgeries on both shoulders:
“Basically, I wanted him to become a coach on the sideline. Those are a lot of the things we worked on — ‘Hey, I want you on the sideline. I want you to listen to the in-game adjustments. I want you to watch the route concepts. I want you to even watch the offensive coaches on the other side. Watch their body language; watch their demeanor. Just the things that coaches look at, I want you to look at that.’ I think that’s helped him a lot now because you can tell when he’s in there with the first group — or with any group — it’s much more calm.”