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2019 UCLA Football Spring Training Preview: WRs and TEs Should Be Fun To Watch

The Bruins have a lot of talent at both the receiver and tight end positions. That should make it fun to watch these guys improve over last season.

Theo Howard makes a one-handed grab during Spring Practice 2018.
Joe Piechowski

We’ve almost come to the end of our UCLA Football Spring Training previews for 2019. The last position groups to take a look at are the tight ends and the wide receivers. While I will group them together in this preview, I will also look at each position separately.

First, I’m going to look at the tight ends.

Tight Ends

Who’s Gone?

The big loss among the tight ends is one of the biggest losses for the UCLA Bruins, in general, and that’s Caleb Wilson. Last season, Wilson was a beast and I have little doubt he would have been an even bigger threat this season if he hadn’t opted to leave for the NFL Draft a year early. But, as his performance at this past weekend’s NFL Combine seemed to show, he’s definitely ready to move on to the next level.

The other tight end to leave was the first Chip Kelly recruit to choose to leave the program and that’s Matt Alaimo. Looking at how this affects the team, it really doesn’t seem to cause much of a problem. Alaimo was only a freshman this past season and he didn’t see any action at all. So, he would have been a redshirt freshman this Fall.

It can be hard for some kids to pick up and travel 3,000 miles from home and that’s what Alaimo did when he came to UCLA. Personally, I was a little surprised and disappointed that he opted to transfer to Rutgers in January if only because I loved having a guy from my high school in Jersey playing for the Bruins.

Who’s New?

Chip Kelly signed just one tight end in the 2019 class and that’s Michael Martinez. Since he didn’t sign until National Signing Day, he is not yet enrolled in school and, therefore, won’t be able to participate in Spring Training. The net result is that there are no new tight ends joining the team for Spring Training.

Who’s Back?

With Caleb Wilson gone, the Bruins will most likely turn to Jordan Wilson and Devin Asiasi to replace Caleb’s production. He led the Bruins in receiving yards last year with 965 yards on 60 receptions and four touchdowns. Last season, UCLA sometimes went with a three tight end set which include both Wilsons and Asiasi. So, one of the big questions with respect to the tight end group is who will be the third tight end this season.

While that could end up being Martinez by the time Fall Camp arrives, for now, two redshirt sophomores and two redshirt freshmen will battle it out. Call it a feeling, but I think Chip Kelly and new OC Justin Frye will look to utilize David Priebe’s size. Here’s a guy, who at 6’6” tall, is one of the tallest guys on the team and he’s the tallest pass catcher on the team, at least until Martinez, who’s also 6’6” tall, arrives for Fall Camp.

Let’s look at the expected tight end roster for the start of Spring Training:

2019 UCLA Football Spring Training Tight Ends Expected Roster

Number Name Height Weight Year (as of Fall 2019)
Number Name Height Weight Year (as of Fall 2019)
33 Drew Platt 6'2" 230 R-Sophomore
83 David Priebe 6'6" 230 R-Freshman
85 Greg Dulcich 6'3" 210 R-Freshman
86 Devin Asiasi 6'3" 250 R-Junior
87 Jordan Wilson 6'4" 250 R-Junior
88 Connor Beadles 6'2" 230 R-Sophomore

Wide Receivers

Who’s Gone?

The Bruins have lost two receivers from the 2018 roster. One is Christian Pabico, who was a redshirt senior in 2018 and has no eligibility left. The other is Audie Omotosho who announced in January that he would be leaving the program as a graduate transfer later this year.

Pabico’s production slipped significantly from 2017 to 2018. in 2017, he caught 18 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown while in 2018 he caught just 13 passes for 140 yards and no touchdowns. This means that the Bruins aren’t losing a lot of production by losing Pabico.

On the other hand, Omotosho never saw the field for UCLA, despite the fact that he was a four-star recruit when he entered the program in 2016.

Who’s New?

UCLA signed three wide receivers in the 2019 recruiting class, but only Jaylen Erwin has already enrolled. As a result, Bruin fans won’t be able to watch Kain Medrano or Charles Njoku this Spring.

Erwin was a surprise signing during the Early Signing Period in December. He played last season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Will Erwin be able to contribute to the Bruins in 2019? That remains to be seen, but UCLA fans will get their first glimpses of Erwin starting tomorrow.

Who’s Back?

The good news is that UCLA has their top two wide receivers, Theo Howard and Demetric Felton, coming back in 2019. The bad news is that those two receivers didn’t have as many yards as Caleb Wilson did.

Also returning are Chase Cota and Michael Ezeike who both made some big plays last year as freshmen. This pair should help make up for some of the lost production caused by Caleb Wilson’s departure for the NFL.

Let’s look at the expected wide receivers roster for Spring Training.

2019 UCLA Football Spring Training Wide Receivers Expected Roster

Number Name Height Weight Year (as of Fall 2019)
Number Name Height Weight Year (as of Fall 2019)
2 Kyle Philips 5'11" 180 R-Freshman
6 Stephen Johnson III 5'10" 195 R-Senior
9 Dymond Lee 6'1" 187 R-Junior
10 Demetric Felton 5'9" 184 R-Junior
14 Theo Howard 6'0" 182 Senior
21 Michael Ezeike 6'5" 215 Sophomore
23 Chase Cota 6'4" 206 Sophomore
25 Antonio Brown 5'11" 182 R-Sophomore
29 Delon Hurt 5'11" 190 Sophomore
39 Ethan Fernea 5'11" 192 Senior
TBD Jaylen Erwin 5'11" 173 Junior

Overall, the mixture of both young talent and experience from the upperclassmen and that should actually make the Bruin receivers a fun group to watch both this year and in the future.

Go Bruins!!!