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Projecting the Future: UCLA Football's 2013 Depth and Recruiting Needs - Part I: Defense

The dust from signing day is only now beginning to settle, but the focus has already shifted to recruiting the Class of 2013. As we noted earlier, Jim Mora is already on the recruiting trail around Atlanta, putting in face time with the next group of recruits he'll try to pull into Westwood. So, since our current depth chart and composition of next season's roster are totally up-in-the-air with the soon-to-come wave of medical retirements, transfers, and other miscellaneous ways that our roster will get reduced to 85 guys, it seems kind of speculative to project what the team will look like going into, not this fall, but the fall of 2013.

But, if Mora is going to succeed in Westwood, he needs to do exactly that: project what his roster will look like this fall, and then make recruiting decisions re: the Class of 2013, as well as the Class of 2014. After all, the early bird gets the worm, right?

So, with that in mind, let's try to make a way-too-early projection of how the Bruins will look come the fall of 2013, so we'll know where our recruiting needs are and can gauge Mora's recruiting success over the next year (form now until National Signing Day, 2013) as accurate as possible. As with the depth chart projections for this upcoming year (defense and offense), we'll assume Mazzone's spread offense concepts, as well as a 3-4 base defense, for the purpose of these projections.

Let's get this started with the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line

Entering the fall of 2013, here's how I project the front-three will look for the Bruins:

Owamagbe Odighizuwa (SR)
Ellis McCarthy (SO)
Cassius Marsh (SR)
Iuta Tepa (RS SR) Kevin McReynolds (RS SO)
Brandon Willis (JR)
Sam Tai (RS SO)
Seali'i Epenesa (SR)
Keenan Graham (RS SR)
Eli Ankou (RS FR)
Brandon Tuliaupupu (RS SO)

How does that front-three look? Senior ends in Marsh and Owa, with Tepa and Willis right behind, sandwiching the big monster on the inside, Ellis McCarthy. In 2013, we have very solid depth, with Willis, Tai, Ankou, McReynolds, and Tuilaupupu still with eligibility going into 2014. That said, given attrition and injuries, Mora should look to bring in at least two more DE (in the 3-4 mold) and another DT in the Class of 2013. We don't want to be in a position where we're looking at true freshmen to give us depth in 2014.


Jeremy Castro (SO) Aaron Porter (RS FR)
Jordan Zumwalt (SR)
Eric Kendricks (RS JR)
Aramide Olaniyan (RS JR) Isaiah Bowens (RS SR)
Todd Golper (RS SR)
Aaron Wallace (RS SO)
Keenan Graham (RS SR) Anthony Barr (SR)
Nate Iese (RS FR)
Ryan Hofmeister (RS SO)

Kenny Orjioke (RS FR)

This might be the deepest group of UCLA linebackers we've had in a long time. Entering the fall of 2013, we'll have only one senior in our projected starting four. And it's not like these kids won't be good. There is very good depth with Olaniyan, Bowens, Wallace, Iese, and Orjioke all expected to vie for time, and that's not even including Barr (if he is still on the defensive side of the ball by 2013. Our projected depth in the middle will be thin going into 2014, so Mora should look to bring in some interior linebackers in the Class of 2013.

Defensive Backs

Ishmael Adams (SO)
Dietrich Riley (SR)
Tevin McDonald (RS JR)
Anthony Jefferson (RS JR)
Brandon Sermons (RS SR)
Stan McKay (RS SR)
Alex Mascarenas (RS SR)
Marcus Rios (SO)
Paul Perkins (RS FR)
Taylor Lagace (SO)
Anthony Thompson (RS SO) Randall Goforth (RS FR)
Justin Combs (RS FR)

Despite the sheer volume of guys we brought in who could play in the secondary, this will be our area of biggest need on the defensive side of the ball. Even if Goforth, Lagace, and Perkins end up playing in the secondary, instead of on the offensive side of the ball. UCLA will still find itself very thin at the safety positions in 2014. Hopefully, Mora realizes this too (given the number of graduating players there are at safety) and will bring in some safety prospects in the Class of 2013.

Alright everybody, that's a very preliminary look at how our defense could, possibly, maybe shape up in the fall of 2013. So, with that, 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..Stay tuned for our the second part of this series, looking at the way-too-early depth chart projection for 2013 soon.

Fire away in the thread.