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Getting Ready for Spring and Beyond: UCLA's 2013 and 2014 Depth and Recruiting Needs - Part III: Offense

Spring football is fast approaching, with Jim Mora and our Bruins returning to Spaulding Field on April 2. As we get ready for what we hope will be an exciting (and successful) second year of the Jim Mora era in Westwood, Bruins Nation takes a look at how our 2013 and 2014 depth chart projects to look like, all to assess where our coaching staff will need to focus their recruiting efforts. The third and final part of our three part series takes a look at the fun side of the ball, as we get ready for the second year of Brett Hundley and Noel Mazzone's high-flying spread-it-out offense.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With our basketball team about to launch into the final stretch of Howland's farewell tour, all of us have had our focus squarely on a dysfunctional program with a lame duck coach, a roster decimated by poor personnel management, and morale among the fan base sagging. In other words, the basketball program looks a lot like the football program in the final years of both Karl Dorrell's and Rick Neuheisel's tenures in Westwood.

But, this morning, let's distract ourselves from the rampant Howland-to-Pitt speculation, the questions over whether Chianti Dan gets to cash in on his $750K bonus for torpedoing our once proud athletic department, and talk about one of the few bright spots for UCLA athletics: Jim Mora and our football program. As we discussed last week in breaking down the special teams and defense projections, the Class of 2013 is on its way to UCLA, and now focus has shifting on landing the big recruits in the Class of 2014. So with that in mind, we take a look at how our depth chart projects on the offensive side of the ball, both this upcoming season (with spring practice tantalizing close) and the following season, all to gauge how Jim Mora and his staff are holding up in recruiting the Class of 2014. We began this three-part project last week with a look at the special teams, followed by the defense, and now it's time to take a look at Noel Mazzone's spread offense, led by super sophomore QB Brett Hundley.

As with the other two projections, this is way-too-early, with some key position battles still to be fought out on Spaulding Field. But, it will give us a very rough idea of how the offense will look this fall and where we'll need to add bodies to the program to keep UCLA marching toward returning to being in the mix for the national title. So let's take a look at how the Mora/Mazzone offense looks, beginning with the projected depth chart for fall of 2013:

Offensive Line

Torian White (RS SO) Xavier Su'a Filo (JR) Jake Brendel (RS SO)
Greg Capella (RS SR) Simon Goines (SO)
Christian Morris (FR) Caleb Benenoch (FR)
Kody Innes (RS JR)
Alberto Cid (RS SR) Poasi Moala (FR)
Colby Cyburt (RS FR) Kevin McReynolds (RS SO) Carl Hulick (RS FR)
Alexandru Ceachir (JR) Kenny Lacy (FR)
Conor McDermott (RS FR) Ben Wysocki (RS SO) Scott Quessenberry (FR)
Lacy Westbrook (FR) Will Oliver (RS SO)
Tre' Hale (RS SO) Alex Redmond (FR)

John Lopez (FR)

So, how does that depth look? Talk about a welcome change. Yes, the Bruins lose senior starting RG Jeff Baca, but senior guard Greg Capella, who was lost for the entirety of the 2012 season due to concussion issues, should be able to return and be in the mix to take over for the departed Baca. White and Goines will both be pushed to keep their spots on the depth chart, as Colby Cyburt (3 stars, #50 OT in Class of 2012) (all star ratings and rankings per Scout), who was highly-recruiting coming out of high school (including an offer from current OL juggernaut Stanford) is returning after redshirting his first year on campus. If that isn't motivation enough for the duo, they'll have a lot of competition from a trio of highly-recruited freshmen: Poasi Moala (4 stars, #11 OT), Kenny Lacy (4 stars, #18 OT), and Christian Morris (4 stars, #20 OT).

At center, the Bruins are set with Jake Brendel, last year's starter, returning for his redshirt sophomore season. Behind him will be career reserve Kody Innes, as well as man-child redshirt freshman Carl Hulick. Freshman Scott Quessenberry (3 stars, #7 C) provides emergency depth, but will likely redshirt in his first year in Westwood. The big question mark will the RG position, with Alberto Cid (he of "getting chewed out by Mora causing the team to run sprints" fame) the only other interior lineman with experience, beside projected starter Capella. Lacy Westbrook (3 stars, #18 OG in Class of 2012) is expected to be back in fold after taking the year off on a greyshirt due to a very scary medical issue. Alexandru Ceachir, DL-convert Kevin McReynolds, Tre' Hale, and Ben Wysocki all provide depth at guard, although none really stand-out as a future starter. And if none of those options work, Mora could always turn to top freshmen recruits in Caleb Benenoch (4 stars, #12 OG), Alex Redmond (4 stars, #14 OG), or John Lopez (3 stars, #29 OG). Regardless, with the infusion of 7 freshmen along the offensive line, the Bruins have a wealth of depth along the OL for the first time in a very long time.

And things look just as good in the fall of 2014:

Torian White (RS JR) Xavier Su'a Filo (SR) Jake Brendel (RS JR)
Caleb Benenoch (SO) Simon Goines (JR)
Christian Morris (RS FR)
Kevin McReynolds (RS JR)
Kody Innes (RS SR)
Alexandru Ceachir (SR) Poasi Moala (SO)
Colby Cyburt (RS SO) Ben Wysocki (RS JR) Carl Hulick (RS SO)
Lacy Westbrook (SO)
Kenny Lacy (SO)
Conor McDermott (RS SO) Tre' Hale (RS JR) Scott Quessenberry (RS FR)
Alex Redmond (RS FR)
Will Oliver (RS JR)

John Lopez (RS FR)

The following season the Bruins will only lose Greg Capella, who is solid, but replaceable (hey, we're not talking about losing Johnathan Ogden to the NFL here). Now, of course, XSF could very well leave a year early, which wouldn't be surprising, given both his skill and the fact he would be older than most other college juniors. But, if Mora is capable of keeping Barr in Westwood, we'll hope he can do the same for XSF. Even if he leaves, there will still be ample depth, with four-deep available (barring injury or transferring) across the board. That said, you can never have too many good offensive lineman and Jim Mora seems to know it; Mora has been hitting the OL of the Class of 2014 up pretty hard, making 13 offers so far: Casey Tucker (5 stars, #4 OT, committed to Southern Cal), Jamarco Jones (4 stars, #6 OT), Damien Mama (4 stars, #11 OT), Toa Lobendahn (4 stars, #26 OT, committed to Southern Cal), Ja'Merez Bowen (3 stars, #57 OT), Brian Wallace (3 stars, not ranked OT), JC transfer Jermaine Eluemunor, Roderick Taylor (4 stars, #4 OG), Natrell Curtis (4 stars, #6 OG), Viane Talamaivao (4 stars, #7 OG), Jordan Sims (3 stars, #12 OG), Austin Hall (3 stars, #16 OG), and Marcelys Jones (3 stars, #27 OG, committed to Ohio State).

Receiving Corps (WR and TE)

Obviously, this is where the Bruins are going to feel one of the biggest holes, as leading TD pass-catcher and 6'8" giant-Brett-Hundley-safety-net Joe Fauria is off to the NFL. With Fauria and Jet Ski gone to the NFL, Mazzone's offense will revert more to what we saw during his time at Arizona State: more reliance on the receivers. So, here's how the receiving corps looks for 2013:

TE (Y)
Shaq Evans (RS SR)
Devin Fuller (SO)
Darius Bell (RS SR)
Devin Lucien (RS SO)
Jordan Payton (SO)
Damien Thigpen (RS SR)
Thomas Duarte (FR)
Kenneth Walker (SO)
Eldridge Massington (FR)
Ahmaad Harris (RS FR)
Ian Taubler (SO) Jerry Rice, Jr. (RS SR)
Ricky Marvray (RS SR)
Roosevelt Davis (RS FR)
John Young (RS JR) Tyler Scott (RS FR)
Logan Sweet (RS FR)
Darren Andrews (FR)
Jordan Barrett (RS JR)

Obviously, the Bruins will feel the loss of Big Joe Fauria, who hauled in a dozen TD receptions last year. Replacing him will be a fight between Darius Bell, a converted QB, true freshman Thomas Duarte (4 stars, #8 TE), Ian Taubler, and returning-from-injury John Young. None of them will come close to filling the massive shoes left by Fauria, so Mazzone and Hundley will need to adjust for that and spread the ball out more.

Fortunately, Shaq Evans does return and he is a sure-fire starter at WR. Devin Fuller was electric when he started getting regular time as a slot WR (known as the F in Mazzone's N-Zone offense) and while he's still listed as a QB (and F) on the depth chart, with Hundley firmly set at QB, expect Fuller to get 99% of his action at WR. Opposite Evans will likely be either Devin Lucien, who showed a lot of promise before getting injured (effectively ending his 2012 campaign), or Jordan Payton, who came on strong for UCLA in his first year on campus. Since Mazzone's offense spreads the ball around and uses a lot of multiple receiver sets, there will be plenty of action to spread around to other receivers. Damien Thigpen returns after getting hurt against Southern Cal and he'll provide some electric moves to the receiving corps. Likewise, shifty WR Kenneth Walker returns, and experienced veterans like Ricky Marvray and Jerry Rice, Jr. will provide depth. Given how many WRs Mazzone uses in one season, don't be surprised to see Eldridge Massington (4 stars, #27 WR) gets some catches in his first season.

While the depth at WR is serviceable in 2013, with Evans, Thigpen, Bell, Marvray, and Rice, Jr. all graduating, Yarber will have some holes he'll need to fill to keep Mazzone's offense coasting with enough fresh legs. Bear in mind that most Mazzone plays have at least three, if not four, WRs on the field at a time. With that in mind, let's look at how the 2014 season looks:

TE (Y)
Jordan Payton (JR)
Devin Fuller (JR)
Thomas Duarte (SO)
Devin Lucien (RS JR)
Eldridge Massington (SO)
Ahmaad Harris (RS SO)
Ian Taubler (JR)
Kenneth Walker (JR)
Logan Sweet (RS SO)
Roosevelt Davis (RS SO)
John Young (RS SR)
Tyler Scott (RS SO)

Darren Andrews (RS FR)
Jordan Barrett (RS SR)

Daniel Eaton (RS FR)

Obviously, we don't want to be in a position where we're beginning to rely on walk-on receivers. That means Yarber and Mazzone will have to emphasize recruiting the ball-catchers in the Class of 2014. Ideally, Mora and Company will sign at least one TE and three solid WR prospects. At this point, the program is a bit bottom-heavy, with Mora having been able to sign a large number of underclassmen, so the projected scholarship limit for the Class of 2014 appears problematic. However, at this time, the staff should just go out and recruit as many guys that they really want to bring to Westwood: as we've seen before, the numbers always find a way of working out.

But, at the end of the day, this is the one area of recruiting we should keep a close eye on. So far, it seems Mora is making upgrading the depth in the receiving corps a top priority, with six TE offers extended and eleven WR offers already made. At this point, the Bruins have made WR offers to Michiah Quick (5 stars, #1 WR), Malachi Dupre (4 stars, #7 WR), Jalen Brown (4 stars, #8 WR), Mark Andrews (4 stars, #11 WR), Cameron Denson (4 stars, #12 WR, committed to Arizona), Demarre Kitt (4 stars, #16 WR), Rahshead Johnson (4 stars, #19 WR), Josh Malone (4 stars, #33 WR), K.J. Williams (4 stars, #35 WR), Jacob McCrary (3 stars, #80 WR), Ryan Sousa (3 stars, not ranked WR). Quick is a Fresno Central product, and UCLA has made good in-roads in the Fresno recruiting scene, but will have to battle the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Southern Cal for his services. Brown, Andrews, and Denson all come from Arizona, where the Bruins have been on a tear of late, so keep an eye on them. At TE, the Bruins are recruiting Dalton Schultz (4 stars, #1 TE), Tyle Luatua (4 stars, #2 TE), Jacory Washington (4 stars, #3 TE, committed to LSU), Bryce Dixon (4 stars, #8 TE), Koda Martin (3 stars, #11 TE), and Milan Richard (3 stars, #15 TE). Mora has his work cut out for him, but he's targeting top talent, so if he can land a handful of these guys, the Bruin receiving corps will look very strong in Brett Hundley's redshirt junior (and likely final) season in Westwood.

Offensive Backfield (QB and RB)

Speaking of Hundley, he's pretty much a lock (barring the UCLA QB injury bug that seems to cripple every UCLA QB since Cade) to return as the starting QB for the Bruins in 2013. The real question is who will be the primary backup QB? With both Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut graduating, it leaves the #2 spot on the QB depth chart wide open. Likewise, with the departure of UCLA career rushing yard leader Johnathan Franklin to the NFL following his record-setting senior season, there is a huge void in the offense, one that will be fought out over spring and fall camps. Here's how the QB and RB situation projects as, going into fall of 2013:

Brett Hundley (RS SO)
Jordon James (RS JR)
T.J. Millweard (RS FR)
Paul Perkins (RS FR)
Devin Fuller (SO)
Malcolm Jones (SR)
Jerry Neuheisel (RS FR) Steven Manfro (RS SO)
Asiantii Woulard (FR)
Craig Lee (FR)
Mike Fafaul (RS FR)
Jalen Ortiz (FR)
Jake Hall (FR)
Melvin Emesibe (RS SO)

Right now, given Fuller's projected role in the passing game as a slot WR, I don't see him getting an extended look as the primary back-up QB. I would think T.J. Millweard, a prototypical Mazzone QB would have the inside track on landing the primary back-up job, but it'll be a tight competition between Millweard, Neuheisel, Fuller, and incoming freshman Asiantii Woulard (4 stars, #34 QB). Woulard is still raw as a QB (having played WR for two years in high school), but he has the mobile ability that would make him very dangerous in the open field. Mike Fafaul and Jake Hall, both walk-ons provide the kind of emergency depth we hope we'll never see again after suffering through the travesty of the Law Firm vs. Notre Dame.

As for the running game, you'll again notice (as with last year's projections), that the traditional FB has been left out. Mazzone's offense typically does not utilize the FB, although it was implemented more often due to David Allen's outstanding play at the position. I'd expect to see that aspect greatly reduced. Jordon James will have to fight off redshirt freshman Paul Perkins, as well as Damien Thigpen (currently listed at WR on the UCLA roster), and returning running back and former HS Gatorade POY Malcolm Jones. Jones, returning as a walk-on, after leaving the program last fall, gives the Bruins the kind of bruising runner they lacked last season and have not had since Derrick Coleman graduated. If Jones can maintain his focus and intensity (and we would think Mora would be the guy to get that out of him), he could provide a very strong complement to Jordon James' speed. Right now, Craig Lee, who could see playing time if he becomes eligible is listed on the projected depth chart, based on an assumption that he will be able to become academically eligible for admission into UCLA. All-in-all, both positions look good for 2013, assuming Mora is able to solve those questions about who will step up to fill the large shoes left by Fauria and Franklin in the offense. As for 2014, it looks like this:

Brett Hundley (RS JR)
Jordon James (RS SR)
T.J. Millweard (RS SO)
Paul Perkins (RS SO)
Devin Fuller (JR)
Craig Lee (RS FR)
Jerry Neuheisel (RS SO) Steven Manfro (RS JR)
Asiantii Woulard (RS FR)
Jalen Ortiz (RS FR)
Mike Fafaul (RS SO)
Melvin Emesibe (RS JR)
Jake Hall (RS FR)

Not bad, although in all likelihood, Hundley's redshirt junior season (2014) will probably be his last, as he'll likely end up going to the NFL a year early (which wouldn't surprise anyone here at BN). All of the current QBs on the roster will return (barring injury or transfer), which will be good for UCLA's depth. That said, Mazzone is still actively trying to nab top-tier QB recruits, making offers to five QBs for the Class of 2014: Kyle Allen (5 stars, #1 QB, who like Hundley hails from Arizona), David Cornwell (4 stars, #8 QB), Foster Sawyer (3 stars, #22 QB), Rafe Peavey (3 stars, #29 QB, committed to Arkansas, and A.J. Long (not ranked at all, committed to Syracuse). In 2014, Jones will be gone, but I'd expect James to return. Hopefully, Perkins and Lee can push him for legitimate competition at the spot. Mora is also working on getting some high quality running backs into the program, making offers to ball carriers in the Class of 2014: Racean Thomas (5 stars, #3 RB), Joe Mixon (4 stars, #5 RB), Bo Scarborough (4 stars, # 8 RB, committed to Alabama), Nathan Starks (4 stars, #9 QB), Myles Autry (4 stars, #17 QB), Demario Richard (4 stars, #26 QB), Tony James (3 stars, #41 QB), and Chris Leggett (not ranked RB).

So, that's your preliminary look at how our offense will line up over the next two seasons. Feel free to pick it apart, put up your own projections, and tell us how UCLA will need to recruit in the Class of 2014 to help the offense become the offensive juggernaut we're hoping for. And with this last post, it is the final segment of the projected future depth chart (special teams here and defense here) outlook. But with it behind us, we know have a rough rubric to evaluate Mora's recruiting efforts for the Class of 2014, as it apparently where we'll need to recruit strong (read: WR!) to keep the wheels on the program moving forward.

Stay tuned as we get ready to start with our pre-spring practice position-by-position discussion, breaking down each individual position. We'll begin again with special teams (returners, then kickers/punters/long snappers, before transitioning through the defensive units, and then wrapping up with the various components of Mazzone's offense.

Fire away in the thread.