Coming into this season, a lot of the national writers seem to be concerned about UCLA's ability to replace Jordan Payton, Devin Fuller and Thomas Duarte.
Well, Bruin fans, I'm here to tell you that I don't believe that the receiving corps merits such concern.
Are there position battles which will take place as UCLA heads towards its season opener against Texas A&M? Absolutely. But, are the weapons there? Definitely.
Let's look at the personnel changes UCLA has at both the receiver and tight end positions.
Obviously, such an analysis starts with the trio of Payton, Fuller and Duarte who are all off to the NFL. Beyond those three, the only other player who saw the field last year and is no longer with the team is Logan Sweet.
So, this year's receivers are guys who have been biding their time in the program waiting for their chance to shine.
As far as tight ends go, while Duarte was considered a tight end and will likely play as one for the Dolphins, he was really the Y receiver in UCLA's spread offense. Only Colby Cyburt was listed on last year's roster as a tight end. But, he is not on the current roster.
Due to the change in offensive philosophy, there are a bunch of guys who have switched positions. The first one is Ishmael Adams who has switched from defense to offense as a receiver. In addition to Ish, every guy listed as a tight end was listed at a different position last season because the Mazzone offense didn't use a tight end. The exception to that is Jordan Wilson who is a true freshman and was not on the team last season.
Here is the complete roster of wide receivers and tight ends.
|10||Kenneth Walker III||WR||5-10||180||R-Sr.|
|83||Alex Van Dyke||WR||6-4||210||Jr.|
Projected Depth Chart
Now, this is where things get tough. The tight end depth chart is probably easier to figure out based on past playing time. At least, when it comes to figuring out who's most likely to start and who will be the second string tight end. When it comes to figuring out who the third string is your guess is as good as mine.
As far as some of the projections I'm making at wide receiver go, I'd personally be surprised if it ends up like this, but it's about as likely as any other scenario because these guys are going to battle it out up until the A&M game and, maybe, all season long.
|X Receiver||Tight End||Z Receiver||Slot Receiver|
|Mossi Johnson||Nate Iese||Alex Van Dyke||Ishmael Adams|
|Theo Howard||Austin Roberts||Eldridge Massington||Darren Andrews|
|Jordan Lasley||Jordan Wilson||Kenny Walker||Stephen Johnson|
That's a pretty nice problem to have and it's why there shouldn't be much concern about the wide receivers.