UCLA Football: 5 Names to Remember on Offense
With fall camp set to start Saturday in San Bernardino, it's time to take a look at some Bruins on the offensive side of the ball that could make a name for themselves in the upcoming season.
This preview will stay away from the proven offensive commodities—such as tailback Johnathan Franklin and tight end Joseph Fauria—and will instead focus on a somewhat under-the-radar quintet that the casual Pac-12 fan might not be fully aware of.
There's no secret that the team is thirsting for some sort of consistency scoring the football. Head coach Jim L. Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone hope to find those types of scoring threats during the upcoming two-week camp period.
Here's a look at five potential playmakers on the offensive side of the ball for the UCLA Bruins...
QB Brett Hundley
The much ballyhooed Brett Hundley has been the main target of interest for the vast majority of the Bruin fanbase since he stepped foot on campus.
A former 5-star prospect from Chandler, Ariz., Hundley had been pegged as the "savior" that would help to turn the program around.
Only if it were that easy.
No decision has been made upon who will be the starting quarterback on Aug. 30 when UCLA takes on Rice to open the season.
However, all signs are pointing at the redshirt freshman to take the reins of the offense. Hundley will have to fend off experienced seniors in Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, but Hundley's ceiling and overall intelligence should give him a leg up in the quarterback derby.
With a combination of above-average speed, good arm strength and great character, Hundley definitely has the makings of being a quality quarterback—or at the very least providing the team with satisfactory quarterback play not seen since the days of Drew Olson.
RB Malcolm Jones
It's time for Malcolm Jones to make his mark.
Coming out of Oaks Christian High School, the big tailback was named the Gatorade High School National Player of the Year. Over the duration of his high school career, he ran for 6,280 yards and totaled 113 touchdowns.
Thus far at UCLA, he's amassed 303 yards on 80 carries—and this has been over a two-year span.
With his junior year upcoming, Jones will assume the big back role now that Derrick Coleman has graduated. The talent has always been there, but there's a question as to whether Jones has been utilized to the best of his abilities.
He probably should have redshirted as a freshman, and just hasn't gotten much of an opportunity behind the older backs.
UCLA needs him to be a bruising back that can get the tough yards and wear out opposing defenses. With an opportunity to play, Jones could show flashes of his stellar play from high school—giving UCLA a good complement to Franklin in the process.
WR Devin Lucien
If there's a wide receiver that has the potential to become a household name on the roster, it's Devin Lucien.
The Crespi High School product has shown a professional demeanor since entering the program last year. Not only is he very mature for a redshirt freshman, but he also has a wonderful work ethic.
With Mazzone implementing the spread offense in Westwood, there will be plenty of three and four wide receiver sets. Without sounding obvious, this change in offensive philosophy should provide the receivers with an infinite number of opportunities to make plays.
Lucien's skill set makes him an intriguing option in this offense. He's said to be a very polished route-runner, and has demonstrated in practice the ability to separate from coverage and exploit small pockets of space on the field.
With a lack of proven playmakers from the receiver corps, expect Lucien to see lots of time on the field this fall.
RB Steven Manfro
If you're a fan of the program, the chances are you've definitely heard of Steven Manfro.
If you haven't, here's an introduction to the man nicknamed "White Mamba."
Manfro's story is pretty well documented. After an excellent high school career, he had only one other offer from a major college (Wyoming) before choosing UCLA.
Comparisons were made to Danny Woodhead of the New England Patriots, but no one really knew what to expect from the diminutive back.
Based on his play during the spring, he'll be a known commodity sooner rather than later.
He absolutely turned heads during this past spring with a strong comprehensive performance.
Manfro constantly utilized his agility to make defenders look foolish in space. Not only did he make people miss, but he displayed surprising speed and power. At 5'9" 192 pounds, he has a low centre of gravity—making him extremely tough to tackle.
Manfro can catch the ball out of the backfield well, and can also act as a returner on kickoffs.
No one expects Manfro to unseat Franklin as a starter, but he's certainly a bona fide weapon that should be used within the frameworks of the offense—especially as a change-of-pace back.
WR Jordan Payton
Out of all the incoming freshmen on the offensive side of the ball for UCLA, Jordan Payton might be the most physically ready to play on the collegiate level.
At 6'2" 205 pounds, he brings a physicality to the position. In high school, Payton was a man amongst boys.
On jump balls, he used his body like a power forward and would routinely box out opponents in order to rise up and snatch passes out of the air.
In addition, the talented product from Oaks Christian High School is not averse to making plays in traffic while breaking tackles and pushing forward for extra yards.
With UCLA needing production from the wide receiver spot, Payton has every chance to come in and compete for minutes as a true freshman.