Undervalued, and underappreciated, Rahim Moore's play goes unnoticed east of the Rocky Mountains for the most part. Recently, the UCLA program has fallen short of expectations resulting in less attention from the national media. The 2010 season will be a great test to gauge just how Moore performs with the departures of several key defensive players.
As a sophomore, the Bruin free safety recorded 45 tackles and led the nation with ten interceptions (the most by any college player since 2003). At 6'1, 197 pounds he has the size and speed (4.50 forty yard dash) that professional teams covet. Many have Moore ranked as the top safety prospect for the 2012 draft. Many also believe that this will be the last season in Pasadena for the star athlete.
A prep standout from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, the Rivals four-star recruit was ranked nationally as the third best prospect at his position. Starting in all twelve games as a freshman, he recorded 60 tackles and three interceptions in 2008.
Strong arguments could be made for Florida's Will Hill, North Carolina's Deunta Williams, Clemson's DeAndre McDaniel, Alabama's Mark Barron, Texas' Blake Gideon and Oklahoma's Quinton Carter as comparable safefties. Few would dispute how important strong play from Moore means to his teams success, though. Especially in the Bruins' 2010 season.
UCLA is regrouping after losing seven defensive starters including Alterraun Verner, and Brian Price. Along with linebacker Akeem Ayers, the two are considered the undisputed leaders of this defense.
With three returning starters in the secondary, look for another tremendous season for Moore. Sophomore Aaron Hester will most likely take Verner's cornerback position, and the Bruins welcome back safety Tony Dye, and cornerback Sheldon Price.
If the Bruins can pull out a successful 2010 campaign and Moore continues to produce, the California native will receive his due recognition. Heading into the season, Moore is the best safety in college football.