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2019 UCLA Football Fall Preview: Progress and Growth for Bruin Receivers

The stable of receivers at UCLA is seeing a positive change.

USC v UCLA Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

The receiving corps at UCLA has been up and down over the last few years, and has definitely received criticism from fans over the number of dropped balls and missed opportunities. In 2017, Jimmie Dougherty was hired as the receivers coach and fans saw the likes of Jordan Lasley and Theo Howard finally climbing the depth chart. With that said, the UCLA Bruins have also added players who saw valuable time on the field last season in the first year of the Chip Kelly era.

Now, it’s time to see the receivers take the next step. Who is gone, who is back, and who have the Bruins added to the roster?

Who’s Gone?

  • Stephen Johnson III
  • Audie Omotosho
  • Christian Pabico

Every position saw matriculation with the hiring of Chip Kelly and the wide receivers were no exception. The bleeding wasn’t terrible, as Stephen Johnson III and Audie Omotosho were the only receivers who left the program by choice. Christian Pabico, who cemented himself as a key receiver and scholarship player after four years as a walk on, was part of only a handful of seniors that graduated last year. His play actually dropped off quite a bit from 2017 (280 yards of offense) to 2018 (140 yards of offense), but this could be attributed to the new system brought in by Chip Kelly.

Who’s Back?

  • Chase Cota
  • Michael Ezeike
  • Demetric Felton
  • Ethan Fernea
  • Theo Howard
  • Delon Hurt
  • Dymond Lee
  • Josiah Norwood
  • Kyle Philips

Theo Howard returns as the unit’s only senior as does redshirt junior Demetric Felton. These two veterans will definitely be the number one and two, at least to start the season. Howard was almost on autopilot last year when he made 51 grabs for an average of 13.3 yards per catch. He’ll be the go-to guy for UCLA’s quarterback, but Felton will also play a significant supporting role in this cast.

Additionally, redshirt junior Dymond Lee, sophomore Michael Ezeike, and redshirt freshman Kyle Philips will be back. Philips is a beneficiary of the new redshirt rule which took effect last season. Because he only played in four games last season, he was able to redshirt last year. This gives Phillips an extra year of experience on the field without burning a year of eligibility. He will looks to be a player that will be exciting to watch.

As the UCLA roster finally starts to show some age, the Bruins also bring some valuable experience. For example, sophomore receiver Chase Cota appeared in 12 games but only logged 13 receptions for 168 yards. But put him back on the field this year with a more experienced quarterback throwing behind an offensive line that is finally getting its act together and you might actually see some magic happen. Cota was highly touted out of high school and definitely has raw talent that just needs to be honed for the collegiate level.

There is depth here and UCLA’s receivers will give the Bruins’ quarterback a number of options, but clearly the top spots will go to Howard and Felton barring any injuries or talent explosion. After that, Lee, Cota, Ezeike, and Phillips all have a shot at some decent playing time, depending on their showing in Fall camp.

Finally, you’ll note that Josiah Norwood has shifted from quarterback to receiver for the season.

2019 UCLA Projected Wide Receivers Depth Chart

Theo Howard Chase Cota Kyle Philips
Jaylen Erwin Demetric Felton Michael Ezeike

Who’s New?

  • Jaylen Erwin
  • Ashton Authement
  • Hudson Habermehl
  • Kain Medrano
  • Charles Njoku

UCLA signed three scholarship wide receivers this off-season, Jaylen Erwin, Kain Medrano and Charles Njoku. Erwin, a transfer who played two seasons at Hutchinson Community College, turned heads during Spring Practice. Njoku arrives from New Jersey and will be exciting to watch as he grows with the team and adds to his skill set. He’s a big guy at 6’4” and caught 52 passes for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. He’ll definitely be a contributor in the future, and hopefully will see some reps on the field this year during garbage time (fingers crossed).

Kain Medrano originally tried out for the team as a defensive back, but was offered a scholarship as a receiver. He racked up 1,272 all-purpose yards and scored 12 total touchdowns in his senior season and was also the Colorado state champion in shot put and discus. With his versatility and athleticism, it won’t be surprising if we see him play both sides of the ball down the road.

Ashton Authement and Hudson Habermehl will be joining UCLA as preferred walk-ons and, although they are not on scholarship, they are guaranteed spots on the roster. Both will be eligible to compete for scholarships after one year. One can never underestimate the contributions of walk-ons, as both Joshua Kelley and Christian Pabico were walk-ons and made significant contributions to the team.

Here is our projected depth chart for the wide receivers:

2019 UCLA Projected Wide Receivers Depth Chart

Theo Howard Chase Cota Kyle Philips
Jaylen Erwin Demetric Felton Michael Ezeike

Here is a full roster of the 2019 receivers:

UCLA 2019 Wide Receivers Roster

# Player Name Height Weight Year
# Player Name Height Weight Year
2 Kyle Philips 5-11 176 R-Fr.
9 Dymond Lee 6-1 179 R-Jr.
10 Demetric Felton 5-9 189 R-Jr.
14 Theo Howard 6-0 182 Sr.
17 Josiah Norwood 5-8 160 So.
20 Charles Njoku 6-5 212 Fr.
21 Michael Ezeike 6-5 225 So.
22 Kain Medrano 6-2 211 Fr.
23 Chase Cota 6-4 205 So.
26 Ashton Authement 6-2 187 Fr.
29 Delon Hurt 6-0 193 So.
37 Hudson Habermehl 6-6 195 Fr.
39 Ethan Fernea 5-11 193 Sr.
81 Jaylen Erwin 5-11 177 Jr.

Final Thoughts

The Bruins aren’t winning the Rose Bowl this year. Let’s just get that out there now. However, 2019 definitely won’t be as dismal as last year. The new additions are solid and will be strong contributors as they work with Chip Kelly and Company in the coming months.

The returners have had a year to build their skills and make progress from the program’s less than lackluster performance, and that coupled with the rest of the offense coming together should add up to more yards in the air and catches in the endzone this season.

Go Bruins!