Profile: Jaleel Wadood
Position: Defensive Back
Location: Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Weight: 175 pounds
Recruiting: It’s hard to remember that one time in the process, Wadood was actually committed to Arizona State. He then switched his commitment to California but backed off during the season and narrowed his choices to UCLA and USC. The athlete said he really connected with Bruin head coach Jim Mora after his official visit and decided to shut down the process and committed a day after an in-home visit with Bruin DB coach Demetrice Martin.
What to Like: Wadood is what you call a ‘football player.’ You can’t define him by what position he plays because he’s able to do so many different things well. Offensively, he can play running back or slot receiver and on defense, he can play corner or safety as well as return kicks. He’s incredibly competitive but what stands out most is his football instincts and IQ. Wadood is one of those players who just always seems to be about two or three steps ahead of everyone else. His nose for the ball and knack for making the big play is incredible and his overall compete level and desire to win is unmatched by anyone else out west.
What may be of concern: Wadood has always been one of the toughest players for us to rank all season. He plays safety but has a corner frame. He runs well but isn’t a true burner so you wonder how he’ll do in coverage. He has great safety skills and awareness but at 175 pounds, doesn’t have the prototype safety size. Those are real concerns however after watching him play multiple times this year, the feeling is Wadood is such a great player, what position he plays really won’t matter. He’ll find a way to not just get on the field but be a difference maker. He’ll start out as a safety and even though he lacks great size, he’s a very physical player and a solid tackler. The way the Pac 12 is now played with so many teams running a spread offense, you almost need your safeties to be smaller and more mobile than the old standard 200+ pound safeties who play great in run support but can’t cover.
Overall Analysis: Landing Wadood was a huge pickup for UCLA on several different levels. For starters, he’s a great player and will be an early impact player for the program. He’s widely respected by other top players in the area and will have influence on recruiting other players at UCLA. Landing a player from the top program in Southern CA is also huge, especially when there were rumors of some friction between UCLA and the Bosco program.