UCLA's offense now falls on his shoulders. (Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire)
As we got started with yesterday, with football season finally here, it's time to take another look at how our depth chart projects into the future to help guide our assessment of Jim Mora's recruiting efforts during his first season in charge of a college program. Rather than riding the hype of a new coaching staff in one of the nation's premier collegiate destinations, Mora and his staff will have to build and sustain recruiting momentum during the season.
In the 6 months since we looked at the future offensive depth chart projections, our offensive system has come into a much clearer focus, especially with Brett Hundley being handed the reins as the starting QB, marking a complete and total break with last year's mediocre, Pistol-based, often-sputtering offensive system. While Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince deserve the praise of the wider Bruin Nation for all of their efforts, Mora's anointment of Hundley as the present and future QB for UCLA marks the start of, what we hope, is a new era for UCLA.
However, like with the defensive unit, the offense has been hit by transfers, medical retirements, and injuries, which will strain an already depleted offensive line. So, let's go ahead and take a look at how UCLA's offense projects into 2013. As with the defensive side of the ball, let's start with our current depth chart (as it is currently projected) and then project how that picture will hold up for the start of next season (2013). For reference, you'll find this season's offensive projections here: offensive line, the receiving corps, the running backs, and finally, quarterback.
So, let's take a look at how UCLA's offense will look in the fall of 2013, after the jump.
|Xavier Su'a Filo (JR)
||Alexandru Ceachir (JR)||
Jake Brendel (RS SO)
|Colby Cyburt (RS FR)||
Carl Hulick (SO)
||Tre' Hale (RS JR)
|Michael Padovese (RS SO)||Lacy Westbrook (FR)
||Will Oliver (RS SO)|
|Christian Morris (FR)||John Lopez (FR)
||Erik Bunte (FR)|
|Sean Dowling (FR)|
On paper, this unit looks well-stocked heading into the fall of 2013. XSF will return as a junior to anchor the offensive line, while Brendel should have a year of solid playing time and experience behind him. The biggest question mark will be replacing Jeff Baca, who will have graduated, and who will start at the other tackle position, with it looking like a battle between Torian White and Simon Goines. And as all UCLA fans know, injuries pile up at an unusually high rate for offensive linemen in Westwood.
Fortunately, Jim Mora seems to appreciate this, having already secured verbal commitments from John Lopez from Orange (3 stars, #27-ranked OG) (all ratings and rankings by Scout unless otherwise noted), and Christian Morris from Tennessee (4 stars, #25-ranked OT), Erik Bunte from Santa Margarita (4 stars, #26-ranked OT), and Sean Dowling from Fallbrook (3 stars, #31-ranked OT). Mora has spread the line love around too, making offers to (only uncommitted prospects listed) Kenny Lacy from Arizona (4 stars, #17-ranked OT), Riley Sorenson from Santa Margarita (3 stars, #47-ranked OT), Aaron Cochran from Atwater (3 stars, #62-ranked OT), Denver Kirkland from Florida (4 stars, #6-ranked OG), Na'Ty Rodgers from Maryland (3 stars, #33-ranked OG), Scott Quessenberry from Encinitas (3 stars, #7-ranked C), and David Maka from Tustin (2 stars, #23-ranked C).
Receiving Corps (WR and TE)
SLOT WR (F)
Devin Lucien (RS SO)
Darius Bell (RS SR)
|Jordan Payton (SO)||Jordon James (RS JR)||John Young (RS SO)||Jerry Rice, Jr. (RS SR)|
|Javon Williams (RS FR)||Kenny Walker (RS FR)||
Ian Taubler (RS FR)
|Ahmaad Harris (RS FR)||Jordan Barrett (RS SR)
|Roosevelt Davis (RS SO)|
Heading into 2013, with Big Joe Fauria graduating, Mazzone's system will likely shift back to the more familiar four-WR spread sets that we saw him employ at Arizona State. We'll still see some use of a TE type receiver/blocker, but with the options he'll have at the slot (Marvray, James, Walker, Harris), not to mention the receivers available on the outside (Lucien, Payton, Williams, Evans, and Rice), it'd be hard to see Mazzone not using a lot of four-WR sets. That said, even by next season, we'll need to stock up with more bodies since Mazzone's system requires a lot of WRs and we'll be using two heavily-relied on seniors in 2013 (Evans and Marvray). 2014 would have a very thin group if Mazzone and Yarber don't bring in some quality replacements.
So far, Mora and Mazzone have not reeled in any of their receiving targets, but there are a handful of uncommitted prospects with UCLA offers in hand that the coaching staff will look to bring to Westwood: Devon Allen of Arizona (4 stars, #15-ranked WR), John Ross from Long Beach (4 stars, #31-ranked WR), Juwan Dickey of Georgia (3 stars, #117-ranked WR), Craig Moore of Texas (2 stars, #225-ranked WR), and Joe Horn Jr. of Georgia (2 stars, not ranked). So, yes, we could end up with Jerry Rice, Jr. and Joe Horn, Jr. on the same team.
Offensive Backfield (QB and RB)
|Malcolm Jones (SR)|
|Devin Fuller (SO)||Jordon James (RS JR)
T.J. Millweard (RS FR)
|(RS FR)||Damien Thigpen (RS SR)|
Eddie Printz (FR)
||Paul Perkins (RS FR)|
|Craig Lee (FR)
First, you'll notice that I did not include fullbacks in the projection. Given Mazzone's offensive system, I'd expect to see even less use of the traditional fullback, except in specialized short-yardage situations (such as goal line offense), as we move into his second year running the offensive show in Westwood. This conclusion is only reinforced by the fact that UCLA has not made an offer to any high school fullbacks in the Class of 2013 as of yet. As I said in the original offensive 2013 projection back in February:
Also, you'll notice I did not include a fullback in this projection. Why? If you follow Mazzone's offense, it does not utilize a fullback in any significant way. I know there has been some discussion about the position following David Allen's move from the defensive side of the ball to fullback, but there is a good reason why both Psalm Wooching and Christian Powell, both fullbacks (although in totally different molds) both wavered in their commitments to the Bruins and ultimately bolted for Washington and Colorado, respectively. Simply put, don't expect to see much fullback action in a Mazzone offense, unless we're talking about special situation packages (such as goal line plays).
Moving on to the signal caller, with Hundley being named the starting QB, we know now who our presumptive starter will be for the future, assuming he doesn't lose the job in 2012 and is able to hold off competitors (Fuller, Millweard, and Neuheisel). I'd expect Fuller to see some time on the field in 2012, simply because he's too dynamic of a player to keep off the field, even if he's not the best passer of the group. Eddie Printz has shored up his verbal commitment, with both Printz and UCLA's coaching staff making it clear they were both locked into one another. With Hundley, Millweard, and Fuller ahead of him, I'd expect Printz to redshirt in 2013 and not really compete for the starting QB job until 2015.
As for the ball-carriers, with Jet Ski likely to carry a significant bulk of the carries (barring injury), it is hard to project who will be the starting RB in 2013. In all likelihood, unless Malcolm Jones or Jordon James can distinguish themselves during this season or in next year's spring and fall camps, they will likely split time at RB, much as we saw with Jet Ski and Derrick Coleman the past few seasons.
The biggest development for the ball-carriers since February was the decommitment of Keyante Green of Georgia (3 stars, #73-ranked RB), and his replacement in the class with the verbal commitment of highly sought-after recruit Craig Lee from Redlands (4 stars, #24-ranked RB). Lee is the prototypical Mazzone offense running back: a shifty runner who can catch out of the backfield and create in space, rather than being a one-trick run-between-the-tackles kind of runner. Mora and Mazzone have a few offers outstanding among the uncommitted running backs: Khalfani Muhammad from Sherman Oaks (3 stars, #35-ranked RB), Deon Martin of Bakersfield (3 stars, #50-ranked RB), and Aaron Baltazar (3 stars, #54-ranked RB).
With that, that's how our offense projects not this season, but next year. With this projection in mind, as well as the defensive 2013 projection, we have a rough rubric to use in evaluating Mora's recruiting efforts during the season. But, as always, feel free to pick it apart, put up your own projections, and figure out how we'll need to recruit in the Class of 2013 to ensure UCLA's depth chart is fully stocked.
Fire away in the thread with your thoughts, additions, disagreements, and/or analysis. You all know how this works by now.