UCLA Football: Winners and Losers from Bruins' 2013 Spring Practice
The spring camp for the UCLA Football team has come to a close.
Aside from a few injuries, the camp was considered to be a success. Jim Mora's bunch is a young group that continues to mature—both physically and mentally.
Depth concern did continue to rear its ugly head in the spring. The offensive line and the secondary, as a whole, will benefit tremendously from the reinforcements set to enter in June.
Additionally, there were multiple players on the offensive side of the ball who took considerable strides. A perpetually injured defensive back also displayed a renaissance of sorts.
Here are the winners and losers from UCLA's spring practice.
Winner: Anthony Jefferson
Anthony Jefferson was a big-time prospect coming out of high school.
The Cathedral High School product chose to become a Bruin over the likes of Southern Cal, Oregon, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Notre Dame, among others.
Unfortunately for Jefferson, he's been beset by injuries throughout his career. He hasn't quite been able to regain the speed and quickness he once had.
During this spring period, he's begun to flash the immense potential he demonstrated in high school.
Jefferson's shown the ability to defend in coverage quite well. He's used his length to shadow taller defenders. In addition, his overall speed has seemingly reverted to what it once was pre-injury.
It was announced that rising sophomore Marcus Rios is likely going to be out for the entire season with a rare fungal infection. Rios' departure is just another hit to what is already a considerably shallow unit.
With overall depth a huge question mark, Jefferson's foray into the fold couldn't have come at a better time.
*Fellow cornerback Ishmael Adams also had a very strong camp. His impressive play in the spring puts him squarely in the running for a starting spot.
Loser: Special Teams
Special teams has always been perceived as a big strength of a typical UCLA Football team.
Heading into 2013, sophomore Ka'imi Fairbairn should be solid in his role as the starting place-kicker. As for the punter, it's anyone's guess.
The punting situation in the spring was, shall we say, tenuous at best.
All-everything punter Jeff Locke has departed for the NFL, and there are no current options on the roster that are even mediocre. The expected starting punter will most likely come in the form of incoming freshman Sean Covington.
Covington could turn out to be a stellar punter in his freshman year. However, if the spring is any indication, Covington will be the only feasible option.
If Covington gets injured, look out.
Winner: Devin Fuller
The quarterback-turned-receiver could turn out to be UCLA's most explosive receiving option in 2013.
Devin Fuller brings a great deal of versatility. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has been tinkering with Fuller in a Wildcat package. His experience at playing quarterback will serve him well should he be asked to throw the ball.
Additionally, he's very capable of taking off and running for good yardage.
Fuller has become a much more polished receiver during the spring. He's incredibly smooth for someone with little experience at the position. His route-running has impressed immensely, as has his ability to explode out of his breaks.
Fuller led the team with six catches for 66 yards and a touchdown during the spring game. His touchdown catch came on a 25-yard pass play, in which he abused the defender with a devastating juke.
The New Jersey native should be one of Brett Hundley's top targets in 2013.
*Fellow wide outs Jordan Payton and Devin Lucien also had very strong camps. The trio, along with Shaq Evans, should make up a very productive unit this upcoming season.
Loser: The Offensive Line
It isn't so much that the offensive line has been bad. However, there's no semblance of playable depth whatsoever.
That notion was really made apparent in the spring game. The state of the line limited the length of the scrimmage—shortening it considerably from what Jim Mora would have probably liked.
Alberto Cid was a potential candidate to start at the vacant spot left by Jeff Baca's departure. Regretfully for Cid, he just announced that he'll medically retire due to problems with concussions.
Already a thin unit became even more decimated.
During spring practice, there were times that Adrian Klemm had seven to eight scholarship linemen to work with. It caused the unit to become fatigued quite easily, and that was somewhat apparent during the spring game.
While the term "loser" might be a big harsh, there's not much in the means of playable talent. That should change with the injection of seven highly regarded O-line prospects entering Westwood in June.
Of the bunch, Caleb Benenoch, Christian Morris and Alex Redmond could make an early impact. It's very feasible to believe that at least one—if not more—will start this year.
Winner: Brett Hundley
Only heading into his redshirt sophomore year, Brett Hundley could be one of the top quarterbacks not only in the conference, but also in the country.
The Arizona native threw for 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns in his inaugural campaign. However, his awareness in the pocket was sometimes compromised. He was sacked a staggering 52 times—much of the time due to his inability to throw the ball away.
As a freshman, it's expected that he'd have some bumps in the road.
During this spring camp, he's truly taken the next step in becoming an elite quarterback. Hundley's gotten both stronger and faster. He's gained twenty pounds of muscle since the end of last season, and is down to 8% body fat. His arm strength has also improved considerably.
More than anything, he's fully comfortable as the top signal caller. There's no question that he's "the man" in Westwood. Hundley's leadership skills continue to grow day by day—as does his progression as a quarterback.
Look for him to have an incredibly strong sophomore year in what, theoretically, could be his last season in college.
Loser: The Defensive Line
The UCLA defensive line has been beset by injuries throughout the spring session.
Much ballyhooed defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy has been sidelined throughout with a balky knee. McCarthy's upside is through the roof, but he's yet to be fully healthy.
Nose tackle Brandon Tuliaupupu suffered a torn ACL, and is likely out for the entire season. Tuliaupupu was playing well throughout camp. His injury adversely affects the defensive tackle position. Currently, the only two healthy bodies at the position are Seali'i Epenesa and Eli Ankou.
Lastly, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa has been out the entire spring with a torn hip flexor. It's not known when he'll be back, and he could be forced to sit out the 2013 season.
Odighizuwa really came on last season. His potential is vast, and he was finally starting to display that immense ability last season.
With the litany of injuries, the Bruins will have to rely on young players such as Ankou and incoming freshmen Kylie Fitts and Kenneth Clark.
Fortunately, upperclassmen Keenan Graham, Cassius Marsh and Brandon Willis should provide stability at the position. Marsh in particular could have a big senior season.