With expectations from a wide variety of sources (including the New York Times, Rival.com, and CollegeFootballNews.com) projecting the Bruins to continue to experience growth and improvement in the program (again, not necessarily in the win/loss column, but in the quality of play and development of talent, laying the foundation for a solid run in the coming seasons), it's time to walk through how our program will shake out in the next few seasons.
Why? As we've mentioned before on BN, this is CRN's program now and CRN has to be accountable for both the successes and failures of this program now. So far, the signs have been encouraging, especially with one of the most respected offensive minds in the game, Coach Norm Chow, extending his contract in Westwood.
It's pretty well known that CRN can take over a program and win (see the 2000 Rose Bowl), but one of the lingering questions after his relatively short stints in Boulder and Seattle is whether CRN can sustain a program successfully. CRN has gone out, targeted a bunch of big bodies for both the offensive and defensive line, shoring up both current depth chart holes and projected shortfalls in the future. It's clear that the "Neuheisel only recruits flash" gibe is fading with CRN bringing in plenty of the big men.
We started with the defensive side of the ball, discovering that CRN is really in tune with the future needs of his program, making 23 offers to defensive linemen alone (and not just chasing the local 3-star talent, but the 5- and 4-star nationally exposed talent). Fans of the Bruins haven't had much to complain on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense has been, well, lackluster to say the least. Except for MJD's freakish athletic abilities, the Bruin faithful haven't seen any offensive fireworks in over a decade. This year, however, after reading Nestor's breakdown of our offense (quarterbacks, wide receivers/tight ends, running backs, and offensive line) we can be cautiously optimistic for this upcoming season.
How that offensive talent shapes over the next three seasons will get broken down after the jump.
To make it a bit easier to sort, I've broke each group up into separate block quote sections:
'10-'11 (5 total players):
QB Richard Brehaut (SO)
Nick Crissman (RS SO)
Clayton Tunney (RS JR)
Incoming Freshmen/Transfers: Darius Bell (2 stars by Scout)
Notes: Kevin Prince is the clear-cut starter. Brehaut was very highly touted coming out of high school (4 stars, #9 by Scout in Class of 2009) but lost out to Prince for the starting job. There are fears he'll bail on the Bruins and look for playing time somewhere else, but with Darius Bell in the fold now, a lot of Bruins (and I'm sure CRN and CNC as well) are hoping they can redshirt Brehaut this year and prepare him to take over for Prince when he leaves the program. That will be something to keep an eye on. Nick Crissman is a great Bruin: he'll always be the backup but he's sticking with the program and actively recruiting other guys for his university. Darius Bell is the younger brother of former Bruin RB Khalil Bell and is coming from CCSF, which produced Masoli. Hopefully, Bell brings Masoli talent without the Masoli intelligence (or lack thereof) and judgment.Clayton Tunney is a transfer from UC Davis (having finished his LDS mission) who provides some deep cover in case we suffer another horrific injury run (a la Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan). The glaring problem is that no one on the roster is a freshman, so CRN will need to bring in a recruit this upcoming year to start planning for our long term transition from Prince/Brehaut to the next generation.
'11-'12 (5-6 total players):
QB Richard Brehaut (RS SO)
Darius Bell (JR)
Nick Crissman (RS JR) Brett Hundley or Stephen Rivers (FR)
Jerry Neuheisel (FR)
Class of 2011 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: Brett Hundley, QB (4 stars, #5 by Scout); Stephen Rivers (3 stars, #30 by Scout); Jerry Neuheisel (2 stars by Scout)
Notes: As long as Prince doesn't get hurt (Kevin, if you're reading this, please keep your mouthpiece in, please), he'll be the starting QB going into his junior season. The kid has a lot of upside and if CRN, Chow, and Prince can get it working on all cylinders, then Prince's junior year might be the year he garners some national attention. That being said, don't expect Prince to leave after his junior campaign. Brehaut will keep pushing him, though and if Prince struggles, don't be surprised if CRN turns to the talented (hopefully) redshirt sophomore (and I'm assuming in this projection that Brehaut redshirts this upcoming season).
On the recruiting front, CRN actually offered 9 different QBs and were actively recruiting a number of others. Most of them have committed somewhere else (although I would not count CRN of changing someone's mind between now and signing day, perhaps Berglund, Wittek, or Kessler), so I've only listed those with an offer who are still uncommitted.
We're in an one-on-one fight for Hundley with Washington and hopefully the kid realizes that Norm Chow is in the long haul and commit to playing for the Hawaiian Master. Stephen Rivers, Chargers' QB Phillip Rivers' younger brother, has an offer and he knows better than anyone what Coach Chow can do for a quarterback's career. Finally, Jerry Neuheisel gets the offer because, well he's CRN's kid and he's not a bad QB. I don't think Jerry ever starts for the Bruins, but then again, that's what folks said about some scrawny blond-haired walk-on named Rick.
'12-'13 (4-5 total players):
QB Richard Brehaut (RS JR)
Darius Bell (SR)
Nick Crissman (RS SR) Brett Hundley or Stephen Rivers (RS FR)
Jerry Neuheisel (RS FR)
Class of 2012 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: None
Notes: How Prince's junior season plays out will decide whether the job is still his or not. Brehaut has a lot of talent and one would assume that by his fourth year in the program, he'll be ready to play. Maybe I have had too much CRN Kool-Aid, but I expect Prince and the Bruin offense to have solid seasons the next few years, so I'm projecting Prince to start his senior year.
On the recruiting front, it's still early to make an offer to a QB, unless you're Lame Kitten, who is probably trolling local hospital nurseries for his QB in the Class of 2028. Jerry is a for-sure Bruin, but will probably be stuck on the bottom of the depth chart for the balance of his career (although I'd be very happy if he proved me wrong) and I think we're definitely landing either Hundley or Rivers. In an ideal world, we'd get both, but I think, in this modern recruiting world (with the way these kids talk to each other about who is going where), we're only getting one (and I'm hoping it's Hundley).
ASSESSMENT: Quarterback play has been a major problem for the Bruins during the last decade. With QB guru Norm Chow in the fold, things are starting to turn around. Prince has gotten stronger, is a year more experienced, and has really shown some great on- and off-the-field leadership. I think he's the Bruins QB for the foreseeable future, but once he graduates, we only have one year of Brehaut. In fact, if you look at the 2012-2013 roster, every QB on the roster will be graduating but Brehaut. Now you all can see why landing a QB in this class is crucial. Everyone can agree having a true freshman at the helm is not an ideal situation and unless we bring in Hundley or Rivers (or swing an already committed guy), we'll find ourselves in a situation where a kid fresh out of high school has to run the Bruin offense.
'10-'11 (10 total players):
RB/HB/TB F FB Jayson Allmond (RS FR) J.(RS SO) Morrell Presley (SO) Tobi Umodu (RS SR) Christian Ramirez (RS SR) Jordon James (FR)
Anthony Barr (FR)
Incoming Freshmen: Malcolm Jones, RB/HB/TB (5 stars, #3 by Scout); Jordon James,RB/HB/TB (4 stars, #11 by Scout); Anthony Barr, RB/OLB/SS (4 stars by Scout)
Notes: Our offensive backfield is in complete flux, with no clear cut projected starter. Initially, it looked like JetSki Franklin had the lead to start, but now Coleman is listed on top of the depth chart. I would expect the workload to get spread around: this Bruin squad has a lot of talent but no clear-cut superstar back in the MJD or DeShaun mold. That's okay though because this is a pretty talented group (assuming Coleman can be more aggressive and JetSki can learn to hold on to the rock). Malcolm Jones is the most anticipated Bruin running back recruit in a very long time. I don't think he'll redshirt because I think he's a legitimate threat to Coleman and JetSki's playing time. He'll make a solid contribution his freshman year, assuming he is able to adequately grasp Chow's blocking schemes. I expect James to redshirt given the depth in front of him.
As was mentioned before, Barr is a guy we don't know what to do with. Scout projects him as an OLB but the coaches are willing to give him a shot in the offensive backfield. He's a bit tall (6'4" to 6'5") to really be a running back and given our long-term depth projections at linebacker and safety, I'd expect him to end up there. That said, he's an explosive athlete and the F-Back position in the new Revolver formation is geared toward getting explosive athletes (like Thigpen, Presley, and Barr), so it's still possible (and I suppose probable) he ends up staying on the offensive side of the ball.
The depth chart is somewhat misleading because the F-Back position in the Media Guide lists two different sets of players in one heading. In reality, expect the F-Back players to be used in formations that more closely resemble the spread and expect the fullbacks, Jayson Allmond and Tobi Umodu, to be used in a more traditional formation in a lead-blocking or short yardage situation role. Although with Norm Chow's creativity, he'll find interesting ways of using all these guys.
One great note: unlike QB, our backfield is well-spread out over class years, giving us a lot of quality talent for the forthcoming few seasons.
'11-'12 (8 total players):
RB/HB/TB F FB J. Franklin (RS JR)
Jayson Allmond (RS SO) Derrick Coleman (SR) Morrell Presley (JR) Anthony Barr (SO)
Jordon James (RS FR)
Class of 2011 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: Harvey Langi, RB (4 stars, #11 by Scout); Shon Carson, RB (4 stars, #22 by Scout)
Notes: Expect JetSki to finally figure out to hold on to the ball by his junior season. The kid has a lot of talent and once he has squaring the ball away down, the starting job should be his. Malcolm Jones will be a major contributor and I wouldn't be surprised if Neuheisel and Chow move Coleman over to FB and use him in a hybrid-type Moline role.On the recruiting front, don't hold your breath for either guy CRN has offered. Langi is pretty much a lock to go to BYU and Carson isn't leaving SEC country unless the Bruins do the impossible and win the national title this year. No worries though: we're talent rich in the backfield and don't need to bring in more talent until the Class of 2012.
'12-'13 (7 total players):
RB/HB/TB F FB J. Franklin (RS SR)
Jayson Allmond (RS JR) Malcolm Jones (JR)
Morrell Presley (SR) Jordon James (RS SO) Anthony Barr (JR)
Class of 2012 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: None
Notes: By this point in time, don't be surprised if JetSki has been displaced by Jones. Jones has the talent and if he lives up to his hype, it'll be hard for CRN and Chow to keep him off the field. James has a ton of speed and he'll get some touches, maybe out of the F-Back. Don't be surprised to see him contribute on special teams as well. If the Revolver works and CRN sticks with it, then Thigpen and Presley will see a lot of playing time. At this point, the depth starts to project getting thin, so CRN will need to make some moves on kids in the Class of 2012. It's still very, very, very early in the game for that class, and I'm sure CRN already has his eyes on some prospects.
ASSESSMENT: On the offensive side of the ball, this is the most up-in-the-air. First, we're introducing the F-Back this season and who gets touches remains to be seen. JetSki and Coleman are the established runners, but it will be very hard for CRN not to play a kid with the talent and potential of Malcolm Jones. It's a good problem to have, having this many guys with talent. The one downside is that no one, at this point, has the MJD-type dominance to be the clear-cut starter. Jones will be that guy in a few seasons, but right now, with a weakened offensive line and JetSki and Coleman in the mix, that won't happen right away. We're well stocked, talent-wise, but CRN will need to start looking for bodies to fill some holes by the time the Class of 2012 is coming in. No real need to chase someone now, but expect him to be in the mix for some elite talent in the Class of 2012. If he's not, then that would be a pretty big red flag.
'10-'11 (12 total players):
WR1 (SE) WR2 (FL) TE Nelson Rosario (JR)
Taylor Embree (JR)
Cory Harkey (JR)
Jerry Johnson (RS SO)
Josh Smith (RS JR)
Joseph Fauria (RS SO)
Randall Carroll (SO)
Morrell Presley (SO) Jerry Rice, Jr. (RS FR)
Kevin McDermott (RS SO) John Young (FR)
Incoming Freshmen/Transfers: Josh Smith, WR (Transfer - Colorado); Joseph Fauria, TE (Transfer - Notre Dame); John Young, TE (3 stars, #25 by Scout)
Notes: Rosario and Embree are the clear-cut first-choice receivers. If Rosario can develop some consistency, he has the talent to be a top-class receiver. Josh Smith is suffering through a knee injury which isn't expected to keep him out of any action, but is still something to keep an eye out for, especially since he is the front-runner to take over return duties from the departed Terrence Austin. Jerry Johnson has great size and should be a contributor over time. Marvray and Carroll are real playmakers and once they gain experience, they could be real explosive players for the Bruins. Jerry Rice, Jr. has a famous name and with his pedigree, you can't count the walk-on out, but don't expect to see him except on special teams or mop-up duties. Harkey and Fauria have great size and I'd love to see them in two TE sets near the goal line: big targets in the end zone for Prince. Morrell Presley has to be included at the TE spot, given his athletic ability and the need to get a playmaker like him on the field as often (and in as many different spots) as possible.
In recruiting terms, CRN did have one new WR lined up, but Paul Richardson blew it by being a knucklehead. Rumor is that he's going to bail on the Bruins. If he does, no worries: we have solid depth at WR for the next couple of seasons. Big-bodied John Young joins the program from Loyola HS, but he will be out this season due to an injury; he should redshirt as a result. CRN needs to bring in some more talent in the Classes of 2011 and 2012 because after Rosario and Embree, we have a lot of talent but not a lot of consistency.
'11-'12 (13 total players):
WR2 (FL) TE Nelson Rosario (SR)
Taylor Embree (SR)
Cory Harkey (SR)
Jerry Johnson (RS JR)
Josh Smith (RS SR)
Joseph Fauria (RS JR)
Randall Carroll (JR)
Morrell Presley (JR) Jerry Rice, Jr. (RS SO)
Brandin Cooks (FR)
John Young (RS FR)
Kevin McDermott (RS JR)
Incoming Freshmen/Transfers: Brandin Cooks, WR (3 stars, #75 by Scout)
Class of 2011 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: Kasen Williams (5 stars, #1 by Scout); George Farmer, WR (5 stars, #2 by Scout); DeAnthony Arnett, WR (4 stars, #7 by Scout); Nickolas Brassell, WR (4 stars, #9 by Scout); Darius Jennings, WR (4 stars, #14 by Scout); Tobias Singleton, WR (4 stars, #16 by Scout); Devon Blackmon, WR (4 stars, #32 by Scout); Dominique Terrell, WR (4 stars, #38 by Scout); Hakeem Flowers, WR (3 stars, #85 by Scout); Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (5 stars, #2 by Scout); Chris Barnett, TE (4 stars, #7 by Scout); Junior Pomee, TE/WR (4 stars, #11 by Scout); Troy Niklas, TE (4 stars, #16 by Scout); Raymond Nelson, TE (3 stars, #30 by Scout)
Notes: Barring major injury or transfer, the Bruins will return their entire receiving corps for the 2011-2012 season, which will be a huge boost to our offensive production, especially for QB Kevin Prince. Rosario and Embree will be the starters, but expect Marvray, Smith, and Carroll to see regular playing time, especially in the Revolver formation where speed will be of paramount importance.
On the recruiting front, CRN is addressing the projected depth chart shortage in the 2012-2013 season and is handing out a lot of WR offers. Best of all, CRN is going after some pretty talented guys. Farmer is a very strong U$C lean, although that could very well change given the situation that Second Choice finds itself in. Williams is a long shot, but he, like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, are both Seattle-area products and CRN has definitely got strong recruiting ties to the area, especially after his volunteer stint at Rainier High. Arnett is not going to become a Bruin, but it's encouraging to see CRN making an offer at solid talent. Expect CRN to land another WR or two from this group as well as a TE or two. Pomee was a Bruin commit, but went soft after a visit to Urban Meyer territory. I think that he'll swing back to Westwood when all is said and done.
'12-'13 (9 total players):
WR2 (FL) TE Ricky Marvray (RS JR)
Randall Carroll (SR)
Joseph Fauria (RS SR)
Jerry Johnson (RS SR)
Brandin Cooks (RS FR)
Morrell Presley (JR)
Jerry Rice, Jr. (RS JR) John Young (RS SO)
Kevin McDermottt (RS SR)
Class of 2012 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: Trent Sewell, WR (Bothell, WA); Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, TE (Indio, CA)
Notes: As mentioned before, this season is where depth becomes an issue. The Bruins should be okay since CRN has made a lot of moves on talented WR and TE recruits in the Class of 2011. I would expect Marvray's playmaking ability will move him to the top of the depth chart, although Jerry Johnson's wide frame should cause him to continue to be a regular contributor.
ASSESSMENT: The receiving corps is the strongest part of the Bruin offense. There is a depth of quality talent on the roster, well spread-out over class years, with clear cut, experienced starters at the top. Best of all, the entire receiving corps will return the following season, giving Prince continuity, which should show itself on the field in terms of improved timing, and thus, an improved passing game. If Nelson Rosario develops consistency in his game, he's going to be scary-good. Don't be surprised if Chow dials up some plays with Thigpen at F-Back, Presley at TE, and Carroll lining up in a slot. With that much speed, the Bruins will really be able to stretch a defense this year.
'10-'11 (16 total players):
LT LG C RG RT Sean Sheller (RS SR)
Jeff Baca (JR)
Kai Maiava (RS JR)
Eddie Williams (SR)
Mike Harris (RS JR)
B. Downey (RS SO)
D. Savage (RS SR)
R. Taylor (RS SR)
Wade Yandall (FR)
Micah Kia (RS SR)
C. Bradford (RS SO)
Stan Hasiak (SO)
Greg Capella (RS FR)
Chris Ward (FR)
Casey Griffiths (SO)
Kody Innes (FR)
Incoming Freshmen/Transfers: Chris Ward, G (4 stars, #8 by Scout); Kody Innes, T (3 stars, #34 by Scout); Wade Yandall, G (3 stars, #55 by Scout); Casey Griffiths, T (NR by Scout)
Notes:Those who read BN on a regular basis know that Stan Hasiak continues to struggle at UCLA and will academically ineligible this season. Four out of five starters return this year, with CRN only needing to replace super-freshman Xavier Su'a-Filo (who is gone for 2 years on his LDS mission). Sean Sheller, who at one point was projected to be a starter until a horrific injury ended his season, will get the initial nod at XSF's old spot. We have more bodies this year and CRN has brought in some talented players, including highly-touted Chris Ward from Mater Dei. At this point, he may not redshirt, but I would expect freshman Kody Innes to use his redshirt this year, especially with JUCO transfer Casey Griffiths now also competing for time.
This has been the Bruins' weak spot the last few seasons, hurting our offensive production, but Palcic and CRN recognize the problem and CRN has been going after the big men in the trenches like a mad man, bringing in 4 offensive line recruits this year and already signing a handful in the Class of 2011. We've beat the point to death here on BN, but KD left our offensive line in absolute shambles and CRN and Palcic have had to do a major reconstruction job to get it to the point where it was at least marginally workable. Now, with four out of five starters returning, continuity with Palcic and Chow (unlike KD who had a new OC every season), our offensive line should be much more consistent this season, allowing our offense to be more effective than it has been the last few years.
'11-'12 (15 total players):
LT LG C RG RT B. Downey (RS JR)
Jeff Baca (SR)
Kai Maiava (RS SR)
Chris Ward (SO)
Mike Harris (RS SR)
C. Bradford (RS JR)
Stan Hasiak (RS SO) Greg Capella (RS SO)
Wade Yandall (SO)
Casey Griffiths (JR)
Kody Innes (RS FR)
Ben Wysocki (FR)
Jacob Brendel (FR)
Torian White (FR)
Marc Mustoe (FR)
Incoming Freshmen/Transfers: Jacob Brendel, C (3 stars, #6 by Scout); Ben Wysocki, G (3 stars, #60 by Scout); Marc Mustoe, T (3 stars, #37 by Scout); Torian White, T (3 stars, #68 by Scout)
Class of 2011 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered:Cyrus Kouandjio, T (5 stars, #1 by Scout); Antonio Richardson, T (4 stars, #12 by Scout); Paulay Asiata, T (4 stars, #15 by Scout); Kyler Kerbyson, T (4 stars, #21 by Scout); Donovan Smith, T (4 stars, #27 by Scout); Ray Ball, T (3 stars, #58 by Scout); Patrick Flavin, T (3 stars, #63 by Scout); Matt Williams, T (3 stars by Scout); Jordan Walsh, G (4 stars, #4 by Scout); Anthony Zettel, G (4 stars, #7 by Scout); Cyrus Hobbi, G (4 stars, #11 by Scout); Jacob Fahrenkrug, G (4 stars by Scout); Errin Joe, G (3 stars, #23 by Scout); Brent Walker, G (3 stars, #49 by Scout)
Notes: The next season will be interesting as CRN and Palcic will have to replace 2 starters. Expect Chris Ward to be the front-runner to take over for the departed Eddie Williams, although Wade Yandall, who has the edge now due to enrolling early, will push him hard for the position. If Hasiak can finally get his act together off-the-field, he has a shot at getting the starting position.
On the recruiting front, CRN and Palcic are going full-court press on these guys. In the Class of 2011, CRN has made 32 offers. I've only listed the recruits that have verbally committed or those with offers who have yet to commit to a program. All-in-all, I expect Brendel to bolt once he gets an offer from Texas, but Paulay Asiata is reportedly a strong UCLA lean and I would expect CRN to reel in at least 3 or 4 of the guys still available, or swing some already committed guys to our cause. CRN knows this program is hurting up front and, with Palcic, is chasing down a lot of big bodies to help us out. It's a very encouraging sign for the long term viability of CRN's program.
'12-'13 (12 total players):
LT LG C RG RT B. Downey (RS SR)
S. Hasiak (RS JR)
G. Capella (RS JR)
Chris Ward (SO)
C. Bradford (RS SR)
Kody Innes (RS SO)
Wade Yandall (JR)
J. Brendel (RS FR)
Ben Wysocki (RS FR)
C. Griffiths (SR)
Marc Mustoe (RS FR)
Torian White (RS FR)
Class of 2012 Recruits Neuheisel has Offered: Zach Banner, T (Lakewood, WA); Michael Flint, G (Oxford, AL); Joshua Garnett, G (Puyallup, WA); Jordan Simmons, G (Los Angeles, CA)
Notes: Here comes some depth problems. Hopefully, by this point, Hasiak has worked out his issues and is living up to his potential. If not, Yandall could be starting in his spot. Downey and Bradford are penciled in at tackle, which isn't encouraging, but this is the season that the Bruins may see the return of XSF. Hopefully, CRN and Palcic are going to re-recruit him hard because that kid was amazing as a true freshman last year.
Of course, the 2012-2013 projection is very rough given the injuries offensive linemen sustain during their time in a program (a la Abele), the large number of scholarship offers CRN has made (and is likely to reel in at least 3 or 4 more guys in the Class of 2011), and the inevitable transfers from local junior colleges (such as Eddie Williams). Depth will be an issue by this point if everything stays static, but CRN and Palcic are already on top of it.
ASSESSMENT: The weakest part of the Bruins' offense is slowly improving under Palcic. With four out of five starters returning this season, and then three out of five starters returning the following season, our offensive line might finally be able to gel and get the consistency we've been lacking. If that happens, watch out: our running game will finally have some legs, Prince will have more time, and overall offensive production will spike. At the end of the day, the Bruins have a lot of fast, talented play-makers on offense (Rosario, JetSki, Carroll, Presley, Smith, Marvray, Malcolm Jones, Thigpen, etc.). If the offensive line can get its job done, then Chow can finally unleash this talent on the Pac-10 (err, Pac-12 or whatever the hell it's called in a few seasons).