Nathan Starks to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 4, 2014

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The UCLA Bruins have reportedly landed 4-star athlete Nathan Starks of Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, Colo.

FOX Sports' Brandon Huffman had the news:

USAAAB: Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek ATH Nathan Starks Picks UCLA

— Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman) January 5, 2014

Starks is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the 2014 class and has excelled as both a running back and safety. As a junior in 2012, he ran for 1821 yards and 27 touchdowns on just 170 carries.

According to's composite rankings, Starks is the No. 12 athlete and No. 185-ranked overall recruit in the country.

It's always a bit of a shock to see the 5'11", 200-pounder go down, because Starks packs a serious punch when he hits the hole. On almost every big run he shakes off contact from multiple defenders and displays outstanding balance.

But it doesn't end there. What separates a lot of great running backs from really good ones is the ability to finish runs. When Starks is already 30 yards down the field, he is still looking for ways to maximize the play and shows incredible fluidity and deceptive quickness in his lateral movements.

That combination, along with a strong understanding of blocking concepts, makes him a threat to find the end zone every time he touches the ball. His football savvy also translates to the defensive side, where he was a first-team all-state selection at safety, as noted on his profile.

Detractors will note that the competition Starks is facing isn't exactly of the highest caliber. While that is a fair point to an extent, there is no denying how special Starks is with the ball in his hands.

The 4.46 speed that Starks has in the 40-yard dash could easily be improved upon; he seems to only get faster the longer he's on his feet.

Being gifted with a unique blend of top-end speed and agility should lead to Starks making an impact at the collegiate level very quickly for UCLA. It might be a bit of an adjustment for Starks because of the raised level of competition, and it remains to be seen which side of the ball he will ultimately be on.

What is clear is that he has the chops to play anywhere for the Bruins given his skill set and instincts on the gridiron.