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2018 UCLA Football Fall Preview: Building the Offensive Line

After losing fourteen players from last year’s team, the offensive line needs to be built from the ground up.

New UCLA offensive line coach Justin Frye demonstrates techniques to the Bruin offensive line during spring practice on March 6, 2018.
Joe Piechowski

For far too long, the UCLA offensive line has been a point of concern for the Bruins. How long is too long? Well, let’s just say that I’m looking forward to the day when the offensive line is not a concern on a Bruin team.

To be sure, Hank Fraley deserves some credit. He took last year’s guys and managed to piece together a line that improve by nearly an entire yard per carry rushing last season. But that came at a price to the passing game as the line gave up 5 more sacks last year than they did in 2016.

Fraley returned to the NFL in February when he took a job with the Detroit Lions and was replaced by Justin Frye. Frye has a proven track record of developing offensive linemen at Temple as well as Boston College,

Given the state of the line in past years, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the offensive line has the biggest turnover on the team.

Personnel Changes

Who’s gone: There are fourteen offensive linemen which were on last year’s roster who will not be returning. Scott Quessenberry, Najee Toran and Kolton Miller are off to the NFL. Gyo Shojima, Zach Bateman,Kenny Lacy, Poasi Moala were all seniors while Sunny Odogwu was a graduate transfer. Underclassmen Jax Wacaser, Sean Seawards, Paco Perez, Clayton Demski, Stephan Zabie, and Alex Akingbulu will also not be returning.

Who’s new: It’s hard to make up for losing so many players with half as many, but that’s where UCLA is at with eight new guys this year. The two guys expected to have the biggest immediate impact are grad transfer Justin Murphy and freshman Chris Murray. The remaining newcomers are Jon Gaines, Stephen DeFranco, Mohamed Khalil, Alec Anderson, Baraka Beckett, and Lucas Gramlick. Boss Tagaloa has switched from defense to offense and is expected to be the starting center at this point.

Here’s the complete roster of offensive linemen.

2018 UCLA Football Offensive Line Roster

# Player name Height Weight Year
# Player name Height Weight Year
57 Jon Gaines 6-4 280 Fr.
65 Stephen DeFranco 6-4 270 Fr.
66 Mohamed Khalil 6-2 295 Fr.
70 Alec Anderson 6-4 300 Fr.
71 Baraka Beckett 6-3 280 Fr.
76 Christaphany Murray 6-2 298 Fr.
78 Lucas Gramlick 6-8 310 Fr.
74 Justin Murphy 6-6 291 Gr.
75 Boss Tagaloa 6-1 315 Jr.
60 Zach Sweeney 6-2 290 R-Fr.
64 Sam Marrazzo 6-3 290 R-Fr.
72 Zach Cochrun 6-5 291 R-Fr.
56 Josh Wariboko-Alali 6-0 293 R-Jr.
77 Andre James 6-5 305 R-Jr.
55 Michael Alves 6-4 322 R-So.
61 Bryan Weitzman 6-4 310 R-So.
73 Jake Burton 6-4 302 R-So.

With so many changing parts, it really wouldn’t be fair to call this a rebuilding effort. There are no seniors on this unit and only three juniors. For these reasons, it’s more of a complete tear-down and build from the ground up.

At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to say that, other than Tagaloa, the only guy whose role appears settled is Andre James at left tackle. Justin Murphy will probably end up at left tackle as long as he’s healthy. Michael Alves could start at guard along with Chris Murray, but camp will determine that for sure.

Since so much of the offensive line appears to be in flux, I’m not going to try to piece together a projected depth chart here because most of it would be guessing.

I certainly don’t envy offensive line coach Justin Frye. He’s got his work cut out for him. I’m just hopeful that he can teach these guys the way he did at Temple and Boston College because that’s going to be an important part of this year’s Bruin offense.

Go Bruins!!!