Well we have less than month to go till the opening of 2010 summer/pre-season camp. So, I think now is a good time to start checking in with the football program on a more regular basis. I will start by looking through the update roster which was released few weeks ago with the names of incoming freshmen on the official roster. Here are some of my notes in context of the spring roster and depth chart (also linked within the following bullets):
- Defensive Tackles: David Carter is now up to 6-4/301, up 9 pounds from this past spring. Nate Chandler is holding steady around 291. Freshmen defensive linemen Cassius Marsh check in at 6-4/285 while Seali'i Epenesa checks in 6-2/320. This was released 2-3 weeks ago. So there is a good chance Marsh could get up 290 range. I think Marsh is more polished off the two and might more ready to contribute technique wise but you can't teach Epenesa's size. He is freaking massive. Donovan Carter has gained another 9 pounds from March as he is up to 280 from 271.
- Defensive Ends: Both Luta Tepa and Keenan Graham are holding steady for now in the mid 240s range. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (number 94) checked in at 6-4/240.
- Linebackers: Glenn Love at least during spring ball made smooth transition from safety to WLB. He is now listed at 6-4/220, up 4 lbs from spring. I could be wrong but I think he might have the edge against Sean Westgate for the starting spot. Ayers at 6-4/255 and Patrick Larimore at 6-3/249, at least on paper appear imposing. I don't recall having this kind of size in the UCLA LB corps for a while. Among freshmen Aramide Olaniyan checks in at 6-2/202, Jordan Zumwalt at 6-4/225, and Eric Kendricks at 6-1/213. It will be all about S&C and weight gain for these guys rest of this summer.
- Defensive Backs: Sheldon Price has been hitting the meal table. He is up 7 lbs from March, now up to 6-2/178. He has now gained 15 lbs from the beginning of his freshman season. He needs to keep at it. Christian Ramirez is still listed as a DB. Among the frosh Dietrich Riley checks in at 6-0/201 and Anthony Jefferson, who I think has an outside shot at breaking in the rotation this season checks in at 6-1/177.
I will get to the offense and some other football related notes after the jump.
So moving along here are some of my observations from the offensive side:
- Offensive Line: The first guy that stood out to me was Wade Yandall, who was listed during spring at 6-4/300. He is now at 6-4/329 (up 29 pounds). Just wow. On the other end Ryan Taylor seems to have slimmed down to 6-4/298 (down from 330 last spring). Among the incoming freshmen Chris Ward is already listed at 6-4/318. Kody Innes is at 6-4/279. Rest of the guys such as Greg Capella (RS Freshman), Micah Kia, Eddie Williams, and Stand Hasiak are around the same range they were in last spring (north of 300).
- Running Backs/Receivers/Quarterbacks: Freshman backs Malcolm Jones check in at 6-0/223, Jordon James at 5-11/191, and Anthony Barr at 6-5/228. It will be interesting to see where Barr ends up during camp. He could be switched over the defensive side where he could fit in as SS or a LB. I can't wait to see Jayson Allmond make his debut at FB (6-0/260). No real changes in the numbers for Jet Ski, Derrick Coleman, and Damien Thigpen. They are holding steady from spring depth chart numbers. Also not a movement in the numbers for WRs/TEs. Among WRs, Embree is down to 201 from 207 (perhaps he is trying to get leaner and faster?). No real changes in the number for QBs (at this point the development we are looking from them are inside their heads).
- Omissions: The list does not include Paul Richardson, Shaquille Richardson and Josh Shirley, who have been suspended from UCLA (not just the football program) at least for the Fall Quarter of 2010.
Keep in mind these guys still have about a month left in the weight room to keep building on these numbers. Over all, looking through and comparing them to numbers from spring and last summer, the methodical progression is pretty clear. The key is going to be whether there has also been progression in terms of development of their mindsets and ability to execute game plans on Saturdays. We have less than two months to go till we start getting some answers.
As we are on the topic of development, let me go back to the topic of assessment of OL talent again. I have been really intrigued by this topic since Woochifer brought it up little more than a week ago. I went ahead and looked up the OL recruits from Bob Toledo's recruiting classes of 1998 and 1999. Those two classes were perhaps the two most talented classes in the history of UCLA football in last quarter century with few highly regarded, uber talented OL recruits. Yet the end results didn't match up the hype around them from high school. From the Class of 1998 we had:
- Steve Morgan
- Mike Saffer
- Blake Worley
- Jeff Wright
And from Class of 1999:
- Bryce Bohlander
- Shane Lehmann
From the group above Saffer, Worley, and Bohlander were three of the most publicized OL recruits to come into UCLA. Yet unfortunately for us none of them developed into the dominant OL we thought they would emerge as in Westwood. The reason I bring them up is not to knock those guys down (they are all Bruins no matter what).
The reason to bring them is to keep emphasizing the point what a crapshoot OL recruiting really is when it comes to assessing it via the star system or recruiting accolades. The key will be is how our coaching staff develops the recruits coming into Westwood in recent years. Thankfully we do have a coach like Bob Palcic with proven track record in terms of talent spotting and evolution from his previous college stops. Hopefully the current guys will continue to make progress under him (like they did last year) while he helps Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow spot more talents on the recruiting trail.
Lastly, speaking of the recruiting trail, ICYMI there was an interesting article on Mike Bell, the father of former Bruin Kahlill Bell in the Marin Independent Journal. Mr. Bell is of course the Dad of possible Bruin transfer QB Darius Bell. Per the article Darius is still "waiting on paperwork to clear him to play next year at UCLA." Hopefully there will be news on that front soon.