The UCLA Bruins reached their second straight Pac 12 title game under first year head coach Jim Mora in 2012, but were once again turned away. They followed that up with a disappointing effort in the Holiday Bowl against the Baylor Bears, leaving a pretty bad taste in the mouths of fans following what was a very successful season. If Mora hopes to get back to that level and beyond in 2013, he’ll have to hope that some young stars emerge in his completely rebuilt secondary. That’s where Tahaan Goodman comes in.
The Bruins lose all four starters from their secondary a year ago, leaving a massive hole in the back end of their defense heading into next fall. Thanks to a very strong recruiting class, however, the incoming defensive backs may be more physically talented than the players they are stepping in for. Mora brought in four four-star defensive backs in the 2013 class that will all make an impact at some point next fall.
Goodman has as good a shot as any of them to step into the starting safety role right away. He was the No. 9 rated safety in the class and has the size and skills to step in and be a playmaker at the college level from day one and will likely be the leader of a young, talented corps of cover-men in 2013. He’ll be joined by the No. 5 safety in the 2013 class, Priest Willis, and cornerbacks Johnny Johnson Jr. and Jalen Ortiz, the No. 20 and No. 31 cornerbacks in the class, respectively.
There will undoubtedly be growing pains, but Goodman must grow up in a hurry next fall and minimize the freshman mistakes. It will be a lot to throw on the young man’s shoulders, but with a razor-thin secondary heading into next fall, Mora may not have much other choice. Will he be able to hold the Bruins’ pass defense together?