The UCLA offense had some major problems in 2016—almost a complete lack of a run game, weak pass protection, and an injury to the starting quarterback. These issues all pointed to an extremely weak offensive line, which was a complaint from just about every Bruin fan all season. But the problems didn’t start there. If you go back two years, former offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was suspended for two games in the 2015 season due to recruiting violations, and he was slapped with a show-cause order back in September of last year. When the UCLA run game finished second-worst out of the 128 FBS teams, it was no surprise that Klemm and UCLA parted ways at the end of the 2016 season.
Enter Hank Fraley, who was hired back in January to fill Klemm’s vacancy. This was not the home run hire that many fans were hoping for, and there was definitely a lot of nail biting in the Bruin fan base. However, there seems to be positive news coming out of Westwood, both from practice observations and the players. According to senior center Scott Quessenberry at the Pac-12 Media Days last week, Coach Fraley had already taught him more about the center position than he had ever learned before. And back in the spring, there were already positive remarks about the way Coach Fraley was getting back to the fundamentals and focusing on details that had often derailed the line in the past.
National Signing Day brought some new talent to the line as well, so hopefully this unit is on an upward trajectory and not continuing the downward spiral. One of the biggest 2017 recruits, Stephan Zabie, has an amazing story that is definitely worth a read. It had become a possibility that he wouldn’t play this year, but he has been cleared by the NCAA.
Don’t forget about the most recent addition to the line, Sunny Odogwu, out of Miami. If you haven’t seen him in person, he is a sight to behold. At the Bruin Viewin’ event, he was already clad in a UCLA jersey doing bicep curls with small children. This guy is a beast and will be fun to watch this year.
Who’s Out: Conor McDermott, Christian Garcia
Who’s New: Stephan Zabie (OT), Kanan Ray (G), Jax Wacaser (G), Zachary Sweeney (C), Sean Seawards (G), Sunny Odogwu (OT)
Here is the current offensive line roster:
2017 UCLA Football Offensive Line
As for a depth chart, these things can of course change after Fall camp. There will be competition among the returning players but also among the new recruits. With that said, here is a projection as of now:
2017 UCLA Football Offensive Line Projected Depth Chart
|Kolton Miller||Najee Toran||Scott Quessenberry||Kenny Lacy||Sunny Odogwu|
|Andre James||Andre James||Najee Toran||Poasi Moala||Kenny Lacy|
|Jake Burton||Josh Wariboko-Alali||Gyo Shojima||Paco Perez||Michael Alves|
Call it women’s intuition, but I’m more confident in the depth on the right. There can always be movement depending on how camp and the season plays out, but there’s no doubt in my mind that on either side, you’ll see newcomer Odogwu starting.