This week, the Pac-12 blog will finish looking around the conference at several players who really stood out during spring ball. It’s only 15 practices, but it’s enough time to catch the eyes of coaches and gain momentum going into the season.
We continue the series with the UCLA Bruins.
Breakout player: CB Fabian Moreau
2013 statistics: A starter in all 12 games he played in, Moreau ranked ninth on the team with 51 tackles and earned all-conference honorable mention. He also had four pass breakups.
The case for Moreau: The 6-foot, 200-pound Moreau might not be the traditional “breakout” player, as he received honorable mention accolades last season. But in this case, he’s a perfect fit.
Head coach Jim Mora is looking for leadership. The previous couple seasons the Bruins have had the benefit of players such as Johnathan Franklin or Cassius Marsh to serve as the voice in the locker room. UCLA has four of its six team captains from last year returning, but Mora said he believes Moreau is ready to step up and lead the secondary.
Mora told the Pac-12 blog in a recent Q&A that Moreau has some “special traits” and has the potential to be a great player. He’s also been equally impressed with Moreau’s maturation physically and at the position, telling the Los Angeles Times: “The way he is developing, that’s a sure-fire first-round pick. I’d pick him in the first round and I’ve coached some pretty good corners.”
That's high praise for a converted running back. Then again, UCLA has had a knack the last couple of years for turning former backs into defensive standouts.
The Bruins will have a high preseason ranking and a lot of expectations this season. Should they recapture the South Division and return to the conference title game, chances are Moreau will play a huge role.
Other spring breakout players: