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UCLA Football: Projecting Post-Spring 2-Deep Depth

UCLA head coach Jim Mora, left, talks with an NFL scout from the Nashville Titans during UCLA pro day at Spaulding Field on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Alex Gallardo
Jason FrayCorrespondent IApril 28, 2014

The UCLA football team just finished the spring sessionculminating with a spring game this past weekend. An official depth chart hasn't been publicly released. At this point, speculation originates from practice reports and injury concerns. 

This piece will attempt to illustrate a preliminary depth chart for the Bruins. It will not include freshmen entering the program in June. Only current members of the team will be accounted for. 

 

Offense

Quarterback

1. Brett Hundley (redshirt junior)

2. Jerry Neuheisel (redshirt sophomore)

3. Asiantii Woulard (redshirt freshman)

4. Mike Fafaul (redshirt sophomore)

Victor Calzada

Hundley is the unquestioned starter at the position. The Chandler, Arizona, native will be considered one of the top quarterbacks in the entire country. After Hundley, the position is a bit dicey. 

Promising redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard was thought to be the leader for the spot behind Hundley heading into the spring. However, he's struggled a bit with consistency. Woulard went 4-of-13 for 42 yards in the spring game. Neuheisel went 14-of-22 for 180 yards in the contest but did throw two interceptions. 

Neither looked overly impressive, to say the least. Based on the experience factor, Neuheisel gets the nod right now. That's not to say Woulard can't wrestle the spot back before the season starts. The competition will remain fluid for the duration of the season. 

 

Running Back

1. Jordon James (redshirt senior)

2. Paul Perkins (redshirt sophomore)

3. Steven Manfro (redshirt junior)

4. Craig Lee (redshirt freshman)

This group likely won't have a signature back shouldering the proverbial load. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will utilize all four of the options at the position. James will likely be atop the depth chart at this point. 

However, nothing's solidified with this group. It could be a case of "riding the hot hand" on a game-by-game basis. Manfro was the best of the bunch in the spring game. Lee flashed immense physical ability, but he still needs to become a more polished runner. 

Sep 21, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Jordon James (6) runs past New Mexico State Aggies defensive back Kawe Johnson (16) during the game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

 

H-Back/Fullback

1. Nate Iese (redshirt sophomore)

2. Tre Hale (redshirt senior)

From a physical standpoint, Iese is one of the most impressive-looking athletes on the entire roster. He will be utilized in a myriad of ways—whether it be as a receiver, blocker or even a runner. Iese could be an integral member of the offense going forward. 

 

Tight End/Y

1. Thomas Duarte (sophomore)

2. Mossi Johnson (freshman)

UCLA doesn't have a tight end in the traditional sense. Duarte is more in the mold of an H-back, and Johnson is essentially a slot receiver. Both do offer UCLA the ability to hurt opposing defenses with their unique skill sets. 

Expect Duarte to become one of Hundley's top targets. Duarte is physically strong and has a great set of hands. Johnson has arguably been the biggest surprise of the spring. He looks capable of becoming a contributor this season. 

PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Thomas Duarte #18 of the UCLA Bruins can not catch a pass while defened by Jordan Richards #8 of the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 

Z Receiver

1. Devin Lucien (redshirt junior)

2. Kenny Walker (redshirt sophomore)

Lucien looks primed to take the mantle as the top receiver on the team. Walker is someone to look out for. Now healthy, the Richmond, California, native has big-play ability. He can stretch the field vertically and take the proverbial top off the defense. He could be the fastest member on the football team. 

 

X Receiver

1. Jordan Payton (junior)

2. Eldridge Massington (redshirt freshman)

Payton is Mr. Reliable in UCLA's offense. He's a guy with the ability to move the chains and pick up the tough yards after contact. Massington is now healthy, after recovering from a torn ACL. He will add valuable depth to the receiver corps. 

 

Slot

1. Devin Fuller (junior)

2. Jalen Ortiz (sophomore)

Fuller has a firm grasp on the position. He should be one of UCLA's best receivers in 2014. Ortiz is a shifty, quick type. He will battle Darren Andrews for a role behind Fuller. 

 

Offensive Line

*The offensive line is an interesting case. If healthy, Simon Goines will start at right tackle. He should be ready to play by the fall. 

This line is extremely versatile. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has the flexibility of plugging in players at multiple spots. Poasi Moala, Caleb Benenoch, Kenny Lacy, Malcolm Bunche and Ben Wysocki all have the capabilities of performing at both tackle and guard. 

Freshman Najee Toran and sophomore Scott Quessenberry are both a bit undersized. Each are capable of playing in 2014, but the prudent thing might be to redshirt them. 

Caleb Benenoch
Caleb BenenochUSA TODAY Sports

 

Left Tackle

1. Caleb Benenoch (sophomore)

2. Poasi Moala (redshirt freshman)

 

Left Guard

1. Malcolm Bunche (senior)

2. Kenny Lacy (redshirt freshman)

 

Center

1. Jake Brendel (redshirt junior)

2. Carl Hulick (redshirt sophomore)

 

Right Guard

1. Alex Redmond (sophomore)

2. Ben Wysocki (redshirt junior)

 

Right Tackle

1. Simon Goines (junior)

2. Conor McDermott (redshirt sophomore)

 

Defense

New defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will have a young, but talented defense to work with. UCLA's base defense is likely going to be a 3-4. However, there is a dearth of hybrid outside linebackers/defensive ends currently on the roster. In order to maximize the strengths of the personnel, a 4-2-5 alignment might be the preferred means of functioning. 

In other words, UCLA will be multiple from a defensive standpoint. 

 

Defensive Line

UCLA virtually has four starters on the defensive line in Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kenny Clark, Eddie Vanderdoes and Ellis McCarthy. The quartet could be the most talented of any Pac-12 team.

 

Left Defensive End

1. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (redshirt senior)

2. Ellis McCarthy (junior)

 

Nose Guard

1. Kenny Clark (sophomore)

2. Eli Ankou (redshirt sophomore)

Victor Calzada

 

Right Defensive End

1. Eddie Vanderdoes (sophomore)

2. Kylie Fitts (sophomore)

 

Left Outside Linebacker

1. Kenny Orjioke (junior)

2. Deon Hollins (sophomore)

Orjioke and Hollins represent the best pass-rushing options for the Bruins off the edge. Hollins has a great first step. He should feature prominently on third-down situations.

Orjioke is a physical freak. He's equipped with all of the tools to become a vital cog in UCLA's defense.  

Mark J. Terrill

 

Inside Linebacker

1. Eric Kendricks (redshirt senior)

2. Ryan Hoffmeister (redshirt senior)

Kendricks is the quarterback of UCLA's defense. A tackle machine, Kendricks will likely be an All-Conference performer in his senior year. Hoffmeister is an excellent special teams player. He's a solid player and one of the leaders on the team. 

 

Inside Linebacker

1. Isaako Savaiinaea (sophomore)

2. Zach Whitley (freshman)

This is perhaps the most competitive battle on the defense. Both Savaiinaea and Whitley are talented players. Savaiinaea has a leg up from an experience standpoint. However, Whitley has a very high ceiling. Expect both to play extensively in 2014. 

 

Right Outside Linebacker

1. Myles Jack (sophomore)

2. TBD

Nothing really needs to be said about Myles Jack. He'll likely play on all three downs. Depth behind him is a concern and will likely be addressed with the incoming class in June. 

Mark J. Terrill

 

The Secondary

As previously mentioned, UCLA could opt to play nickel a great deal of the time. UCLA returns its entire secondary from a season ago. It will be the deepest unit on the entire team. The depth will be enhanced even more with a strong secondary class entering in June.

If UCLA does play in a 4-2-5 alignment, expect sophomore safety Tahaan Goodman to be the fifth starter. Fabian Moreau and Anthony Jefferson would play as the corners, Randall Goforth will play as a safety and Ishmael Adams will be the nickelback

This depth chart will operate under the assumption of UCLA's 3-4 base defense.

 

Left Cornerback

1. Ishmael Adams (junior)

2. Marcus Rios (redshirt sophomore)

Adams is the unquestioned starter at the position. Kudos to Rios for making a remarkable comeback. He will battle John Johnson for time behind Adams. Rios should likely be an impact player on special teams as well. 

 

Strong Safety

1. Randall Goforth (junior)

2. Tahaan Goodman (redshirt freshman)

Goforth is the leader in the secondary. Although not exceptionally big, he packs a punch and plays well at the line of scrimmage. Goodman perhaps has the highest ceiling of any player in the secondary. He's got the ability to be special down the line. 

 

Free Safety

1. Anthony Jefferson (redshirt senior)

2. Priest Willis (sophomore)

Jefferson returns as a starter. Although a corner, Willis' best position could ultimately be as a safety. 

 

Right Cornerback

1. Fabian Moreau (junior)

2. Adarius Pickett (freshman)

Mora has heaped high praise on Moreau. The Sunrise, Florida, native could cement himself as one of the top corners in the conference. Pickett enrolled early from El Cerrito High School in Northern California. He's a physical player with the ability to play as a safety (if need be). 

 

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Wide receiver Paul Richardson #6 of the Colorado Buffaloes makes a seven touchdown catch between defensive backs Fabian Moreau #10 and Randall Goforth #3 of the UCLA Bruins in the scond quarter at the Rose Bowl on November 2, 2
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Specialties

Punter

1. Sean Covington (sophomore)

 

Kicker

1. Ka'imi Fairbairn (junior)

 

Kick and Punt Returners

1. Ishmael Adams (junior)

2. Steven Manfro (redshirt junior)

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