The Bruins’ first commit of the 2023 cycle has backed off his word.
Cornerback Maliki Crawford decommitted from UCLA football on Sunday night, he announced on Twitter. Crawford initially committed to the Bruins on July 30, and he remained the team’s only class of 2023 commit before walking it back six months later.
Crawford had over a dozen FBS offers when he committed over the summer, and he said UCLA will remain one of his top options as he reopens his recruitment.
When he first commited, Crawford raved about everything UCLA brought to the table in a discussion with 247Sports’ Greg Biggins.
“I’m really excited to be a Bruin,” Crawford told 247Sports. “I loved the all around fit and it just felt like the best place for me. I’ve always liked UCLA and have had a couple of really good visits earlier in the week and last month too. … I was the first defensive player they offered in my class and that meant a lot to me. Plus I love the location and it’s a chance for my family to see me play anytime. My family visited with me and they loved it too and it’s a great academic fit as well so it just felt like the best all around move for me.”
Crawford took multiple visits to Westwood in June and July, the first culminating in a scholarship offer and the second ending in his commitment. But since then, Washington has dove head first into Crawford’s recruitment.
Two weeks after the Huskies brought Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer in to be their next head coach, they hosted Crawford on a visit and extended him an offer. Fresno State never made Crawford an offer, and both of DeBoer’s co-defensive coordinators at Washington followed him there from Fresno, so it was very much a zero-to-60 situation between the SoCal defensive back and the Huskies’ staff.
Florida State, Florida International Michigan, Michigan State, Miami (FL), Minnesota, San Diego State and UNLV are among the schools recruiting Crawford, on top of the nine Pac-12 programs that have made him an offer.
Coming in at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Crawford is a four-star prospect according to both 247Sports and ESPN. At the time of his commitment, the long cornerback was the highest-rated defensive back commit since coach Chip Kelly arrived at UCLA.
Kelly signed a four-year extension to remain in Westwood through 2025, but there have been changes to the defensive staff since Crawford made his initial commitment. Defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro resigned, while defensive line coach Johnny Nansen and outside linebackers coach Jason Kaufusi left to join Arizona’s staff. Defensive backs coach and assistant head coach Brian Norwood, who spearheaded Crawford’s recruitment, remains employed, though.
As a consensus top-30 player in the state of California, Crawford recorded 63 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, one interception, one fumble recovery and seven pass breakups in 10 games for Pacifica High School (CA) in 2021. Crawford also racked up 99 receiving yards on seven receptions and accumulated 62 yards on five kickoff returns.
The Bruins’ defensive backfield leaned heavily on veterans this past season, and with Obi Eboh, Cameron Johnson and Jay Shaw all leaving, they were bound to face some turnover in 2022. Adding super senior transfer Azizi Hearn from Wyoming will help for one year, but with him and Mo Osling III running out of eligibility after this coming season, 2023 stands as key turning point at cornerback for the blue and gold.
Devin Kirkwood will be a junior at that point and Inglewood (CA) product Clint Stephens will be heading into his sophomore year, but it still remains to be seen if he will line up as a corner or safety at the college level.
Without a single commit in the 2023 class, there are a lot of positions that project to be similarly thin looking that far ahead.
UCLA has sent 25 scholarship offers to rising high school seniors, five of which have gone out to cornerbacks. Cole Martin has already committed to Oregon, so unless he has a change of heart, that leaves four-star prospects Caleb Presley, Aaron Williams and Rodrick Pleasant as fresh faces who could pick the Bruins in the coming months.