UCLA Football: 5 Potential Breakout Stars
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With a multitude of talented young players on the roster, it's time for some of those individuals to take the leap and become consistent performers—relying on production rather than potential.
Let's take a look at five Bruins in line for a breakout season...
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
Oregon native Owa Odighizuwa
Junior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa has perhaps the highest ceiling of any member on the entire football team.
A former 5-star prospect, "Owa" has been a bit of a disappointment thus far during his career in Westwood.
He's looked extremely raw and has flashed his immense potential sparingly during his first two years in the program. At this point, it's a matter of "the light turning on" for Odighizuwa.
If the light does turn on, watch out.
The Portland, Oregon prospect has tremendous physical gifts. He possesses outstanding strength and couples that with great quickness. His technique has to improve, but once he becomes a more polished prospect, the sky is the limit.
He had a great spring practice and looks to be battling Cassius Marsh and Datone Jones for a starting spot.
DT Brandon Willis
Courtesy of 247sports.com
Brandon Willis has it made to Westwood.
The defensive tackle from South Carolina had a tumultuous whirlwind process just getting to UCLA.
He was set to attend Tennessee—until Lane Kiffin decided to leave Knoxville for Southern Cal. Willis then decided to enroll at North Carolina—until his father got a job out in Southern California, precipitating a transfer to UCLA.
After a season, Willis transferred back to North Carolina in order to be near an ailing family member. Due to some concerns over his position coach, he yet again transferred back to UCLA.
He now is a sophomore in terms of eligibility despite not competing in a college game up to this point.
Did everyone get that?
Despite being well-traveled, the Bruins are ecstatic to have Willis on board. He's slated to be the starting nose tackle and has performed extremely well during spring practice.
He is an SEC-caliber athlete on the defensive line, and that type of player doesn't come around too often for the Bruins.
ILB Eric Kendricks
Courtesy of Scout.com
The addition of Eric Kendricks' name to this list might surprise some. But hear me out, Bruin fans.
Kendricks finished second on the team with 76 tackles as a redshirt freshman. The more impressive fact was that he accomplished this feat in a reserve role.
This upcoming season, he'll be starting as an inside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme.
He most definitely should be in line for an ever bigger year statistically. With that will come accolades and more notoriety across the conference and perhaps even the country.
The Fresno native plays with an abundance of energy—often resembling a man playing "with his hair on fire." An extremely active player, Kendricks is seemingly always around the ball looking to make plays.
His pairing in the middle with Patrick Larimore should be considered to be one of the stronger tandems in the conference.
WR Devin Lucien
Courtesy of Scout.com
The Bruins are looking for a consistent receiver with big-play capabilities. Red-shirt freshman Devin Lucien might fit the bill.
Due to the veteran depth at the position last season, Lucien was asked to redshirt. However, he was more than capable of playing.
As a scout team member, he showed daily what he could potentially develop into as a player.
Not only has he been demonstrating an advanced maturity for a younger player, but he's also displayed the ability to separate from defenders and utilize his outstanding route running ability.
With UCLA losing multiple receivers to graduation, the depth chart is completely wide open. Lucien hopes to parlay his solid spring practice into a possible starting position.
Head coach Jim Mora likes the progress that Lucien has been making in this spring session.
RB/WR Jordon James
Corona native Jordon James
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It's time for Jordon James to be unleashed.
Possessing quickness rivaling that of a jitterbug, it's a shame that James hasn't been given the ball more in space during his first two years in Westwood.
That should change with the transition to the spread offense. His potential position and impact could be likened to that of current Arizona State Sun Devil Jamal Miles.
Nicknamed "joystick" by his teammates, James has the overall skill set to be a dynamic force in the spread offense.
His value will come when given the opportunity to utilize his agility in space out on the perimeter. When faced with a one-on-one situation, the Bruins have to like their chances when James has the ball in his hands.
James' versatility also makes him a valuable commodity. Not only can he line up in the backfield, but he can also be positioned in the slot as a receiver.
Expect the Corona, Calif. native to be showcased on swing passes, screens, reverses and on kick/punt returns.