UCLA Football: Projecting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp

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UCLA Football: Projecting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp
USA TODAY Sports
QB Brett Hundley

Jim Mora and the UCLA football team officially begin their quest for a Pac-12 title on Aug. 4. This marks the opening day of the Bruins' fall camp program in San Bernardino, California. 

Led by stalwarts Brett Hundley and Myles Jack, the Bruins return a relatively deep and talented roster for this upcoming season. In recent years, UCLA has relied upon young and inexperienced players due to depth concerns. Mora and his staff have done a great job of replenishing the overall quality on the team. 

As a result, there won't be too much of a reliance upon true freshmen to play extended minutes. 

This piece will be a preliminary picture at what could be the depth chart heading into the start of camp. Incoming freshmen will be included, based on their conceivable readiness to play right away. 

 

Quarterbacks

QB

1. Brett Hundley (RS-JR)

2. Asiantii Woulard (RS-FR)

2. Jerry Neuheisel (RS-SO)

 

What to Watch For

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The real competition here is to see who will be the top reserve to Hundley. As is the case with mobile quarterbacks, Hundey could be prone to injury. 

In the event of a serious ailment, I believe Woulard would get the call. His overall upside is greater when compared to Neuheisel. On the other hand, a minor injury to Hundley—such as for a half or one game—would likely signal the insertion of Neuheisel. 

This battle will likely continue throughout the season. 

 

Fullback

FB

1. Nate Iese (RS-SO)

2. Tre Hale (RS-SR)

 

What to Watch For

Iese is a fantastic athlete. Coming out of high school, he virtually competed at every position on the field (sans offensive and defensive line). His athleticism and versatility should come into play this year.

Not only is he capable of using his physicality at the point of attack from a blocking standpoint, but Iese can also catch passes out of the backfield. He's one to watch for in fall camp. 

 

Running Backs

RB

1. Jordon James (RS-SR)

2. Paul Perkins (RS-SO)

3. Craig Lee (RS-FR)

4. Steven Manfro (RS-JR)

 

What to Watch For

This will like be a running back by committee for the duration of the year. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone loves to utilize virtually his entire allotment of skill-position talent. With the pace in which UCLA's offense operates, the frequent substitution patterns are a necessity. 

Eric Francis/Getty Images
RB Jordon James

James and Perkins will likely see the bulk of the carries. Perkins in particular has value in third-down situations—having the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. 

I have Lee ahead of Manfro due to his ability. In terms of natural talent, Lee has the best combination of size and speed within the unit. However, he's yet to compete on the collegiate level. He could be the big surprise for the Bruins on offense in '14. 

Incoming freshman Nathan Starks would be the biggest back of the bunch. With the numbers ahead of him, I think UCLA would like to redshirt him. Plus, it's likely Jack will assume the role as the bigger back for the Bruins in specified packages and situations. 

 

Wide Receivers

Y

1. Thomas Duarte (SO)

2. Mossi Johnson (FR)

 

X

1. Devin Lucien (RS-JR)

2. Kenneth Walker (RS-SO)

3. Jordan Lasley (FR)

 

F

1. Devin Fuller (JR)

2. Jalen Ortiz (SO)

3. Darren Andrews (SO)

 

Z

1. Jordan Payton (JR)

2. Eldridge Massington (RS FR)

3. Alex Van Dyke (FR)

 

What to Watch For

There might not be a true No. 1 receiver within the group. However, it's a very deep and talented unit across the board. 

Eric Francis/Getty Images
WR Jordan Payton

The trio of Payton, Fuller and Lucien are the most experienced members. Payton is a physical receiver with a great set of hands. Fuller is very quick and could be a nightmare from the slot on crossing routes across the middle of the field. 

Lucien possess the most big-play potential of the projected starters. He's adept at plucking the ball out of the air with his considerable leaping ability. 

Duarte could ultimately become Hundley's favorite target. The rising sophomore from Mater Dei High School has perhaps the best hands on the entire roster. He's also sound in regard to his route running. His ability to separate from coverage—coupled with his size—makes him a walking mismatch. 

Two reserves to keep an eye on include Johnson and Walker. Johnson seemingly has a knack for getting open, and Walker is likely the fastest player on the team. He in particular could add a dynamic element to UCLA's offense. 

 

Offensive Line

LT

1. Caleb Benenoch (SO)

2. Poasi Moala (RS-FR)

 

LG

1. Malcolm Bunche (GS)

2. Ben Wysocki (RS-JR)

 

C

1. Jake Brendel (RS-JR)

2. Scott Quessenberry (SO)

 

RG

1. Alex Redmond (SO)

2. Kenny Lacy (RS-FR)

 

RT

1. Simon Goines (JR)

2. Conor McDermott (RS-SO) 

 

What to Watch For 

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is a master at cross-training the vast majority of his personnel for multiple positions. Surely this is done to compensate for any possible injuries. 

When looking at the projected depth chart, virtually every single player in the two-deep has the ability to play as both a guard and tackle. This is also the first time where depth doesn't appear to be a major issue. Klemm has done a masterful job of not only recruiting talent, but integrating the said talent from the start. 

The unit should be improved from a season ago. Physically, it also should be one of the bigger offensive lines in the conference. 

Quessenberry might be a redshirt candidate. He still needs to put on both weight and strength. In the event he does redshirt, Carl Hulick will likely play behind Brendel.

Moala and Lacy both have the talent to be very good down the road. Each can play both tackle and guard in a pinch. With Goines' injury history, it will be vital to get another option ready for action.

The addition of Bunche also helps to add experience to a relatively young group. 

 

Defensive Line

LDE

1. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (RS-SR)

2. Kylie Fitts (SO)

 

NG

1. Kenneth Clark (SO)

2. Eli Ankou (RS-SO)

3. Ainuu Taua (FR)

 

RDE

1. Eddie Vanderdoes (SO)

2. Ellis McCarthy (JR)

 

What to Watch For

This is arguably UCLA's deepest and most talented unit on the entire squad. 

McCarthy is essentially UCLA's fourth starter on the defensive line. He's truly the lynchpin on the line from the standpoint he can play any of the three positions.

Depending on the situation (and the amount of pass-happy Pac-12 offenses the Bruins will see), it's very feasible to think defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will opt for a 4-2-5 alignment a good majority of the time. In this situation, McCarthy will start inside with Clark. 

Taua will battle Ankou for the spot behind Clark. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Taua eventually win the job. He's not exceptionally big, but he makes up for his lack of size with quickness and energy. 

The return of "Owa" from injury is also a massive development. The former 5-star prospect has all of the tools to become an all-conference performer. 

 

Linebackers

LOLB

1. Myles Jack (SO)

2. Aaron Wallace (RS-JR)

 

ILB

1. Eric Kendricks (RS-SR)

2. Ryan Hofmeister (RS-SR)

 

ILB

1. Isaako Savaiinaea (SO)

2. Zach Whitley (FR)

 

ROLB

1. Kenny Orjioke (JR)

2. Deon Hollins (SO)

 

What to Watch For

Again, the situation will dictate the formation. UCLA could ultimately be playing a great majority of the time in a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5. For this piece, we will stick with the base 3-4 defense. 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
LB Myles Jack

The duo of Jack and Kendricks could be the best in the nation. Kendricks is a tackling machine, and Jack is one of the most exciting players in the entire country. The return of Wallace also gives the Bruins a veteran option with starting experience. 

Depth at outside linebacker will be something to watch. Both Orjioke and Hollins are talented, but they are also inexperienced. Orjioke has all of the physical tools to be very good. Hollins could be a force on third-down situations as a rusher off of the edge.

It would not be a shock to see incoming freshman Kenny Young usurp the gig behind Kendricks in the middle. 

 

Secondary

CB

1. Fabian Moreau (JR)

2. Adarius Pickett (FR)

3. Denzel Fisher (FR)

 

FS

1. Anthony Jefferson (RS-SR)

2. Ron Robinson (FR)

3. Jaleel Wadood (FR)

 

SS

1. Randall Goforth (JR)

2. Tahaan Goodman (SO)

 

CB

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Priest Willis (SO)

 

What to Watch For

This isn't necessarily the depth chart one will see once the Bruins open the season in Virginia. Again, the alignment will depend upon the opposition. 

I could see UCLA opting to operate out of the nickel a good majority of the time. In the event of this scenario, Adams will likely be the starting nickelback.

Versatility is the name of the game for Demetrice Martin's group. Jefferson has the ability to play as both a corner and a safety. If Adams is matched up versus the slot receiver, Jefferson will likely move over to the boundary as the outside defensive back. This will also depend upon the development of both Willis and Goodman. 

Goodman came on toward the end of last season. Physically, he might be the most gifted member of the secondary on the roster. He would, in theory, assume the other starting safety spot in a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 scheme.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
DB Ishmael Adams

Depth at corner is somewhat of a concern. Johnny Johnson and Marcus Rios have battled injuries throughout their careers.

Freshman Adarius Pickett enrolled early and will likely push for play time. Additionally, do not count out fellow freshmen Denzel Fisher and Jaleel Wadood. I'd think Wadood will see plenty of time on special teams early in his career with the Bruins. Fisher has great physical tools, but he needs to continue to get physically stronger and bigger. 

It should also be noted this is a veteran group. This is the only unit in which all four starters from a season ago return. 

 

Special Teams

K

1. Ka'imi Fairbairn (JR)

 

P

1. Sean Covington (SO)

 

KR

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Darren Andrews (SO)

 

PR

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Kenneth Walker (RS-SO)

 

What to Watch For

This should be a solid unit across the board. Covington generally looked good as a true freshman last season. Fairbairn regressed a bit from his freshman to sophomore year. Now a junior, he'll be looking to improve upon his 66.7 percent conversion rate from 2013. 

Adams and Walker should be dynamic options in the return game. Andrews has the pure speed to impact in the return game as well. 

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