Redshirt/Scout Player Evaluations

It's an annual tradition -- to analyze the UCLA football teams' scout players after Signing Day. We break down the players that didn't see action last season, and where they project as contributing in the program next season and beyond...

Brett Hundley (QB): There was a moment during the last month of the season, when Mike Johnson was the head coach and Marques Tuiasasopo was the primary quarterback coach, that illustrates what went on with Hundley this season. Hundley was struggling with a one-on-one drill, throwing either low and behind his receivers or high and ahead. Then Tuiasasopo took him aside and demonstrated the necessary footwork for his drop. All of a sudden, Hundley was, if not perfect, noticeably better on his throws, hitting most of the receivers in stride.

The point is, Hundley probably showed more improvement in the last month of the season, when UCLA was afforded the opportunity to go to more of a camp atmosphere in practice, than he showed all year, and a lot of that has to be attributed to coaching. The post mortem on Rick Neuheisel's staff has been done, but the effects of poor talent development are probably going to be felt for quite a while.

Hundley, right now, is not much more developed as a passer than he was at the beginning of the year, but then again, neither is Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut. He's still a great talent, and showed striking athleticism in practice, and he still has a strong arm. His accuracy, release, and footwork, though, still leave much to be desired. All of that can be improved upon by a new coaching staff, and the word is that Noel Mazzone is a very effective developer of quarterbacks.

The quarterback battle is going to be interesting to watch in the spring. If I had to handicap it, I'd put Prince and Brehaut in a dead heat, with Hundley fairly close behind, and maybe T.J. Millweard as a dark horse (mostly because of the neck beard). With Prince and Brehaut as fairly known quantities (although I'd argue they also never received real quarterback coaching), it'll probably come down to how much progress Hundley can make under Mazzone by the end of spring practice.

Prediction for this season: 2nd string, will inevitably start a couple of games.
Long term outlook: 3 year starter.

Devin Lucien (WR): I started covering practice in October, so I wasn't witness to the feats of strength Lucien performed during fall camp. But it was obvious during scout team drills that this guy had no business being on the scout team. Whenever you heard an oooh or an ahhh during practice coming from the scout team offense, it was invariably Lucien making a great catch in traffic. During the season, even counting the seniors, he was probably one of the top 3 or 4 receivers on the team.

What sets Lucien apart is that he's much more polished than an average freshman. He runs good routes, has good hands, and knows how to create separation. While his top-end speed isn't amazing, he gets off the line pretty quickly.

Prediction for the season: Starter, 2nd leading receiver
Long term outlook: 4 year starter.

Jacob Brendel (FR): The previous staff was very high on Brendel, and it's easy to see why. He spent a lot of the year shuffling between 2nd and 3rd string, and showed some very good quickness. The real remaining issue for him is gaining strength. He improved on snapping the ball this year, and snapping the ball should, in general, prove to be less of an issue now that the Pistol is on the scrap heap. Right now, with the way the depth chart is looking, Brendel is almost certainly going to have to start at center next year, because Greg Capella is almost certainly going to have to man one of the starting guard spots, and Kody Innes isn't expected to crack the rotation.

Prediction for the season: Starting Center.
Long term outlook: 4 year starter.

Steven Manfro (RB): Manfro is a great back to have for the scout team. He runs hard on every play and has decent enough quickness and shiftiness to give the 1st team defense an adequate look for preparation purposes. That said, it's very unlikely that he ever gets considerable playing time at UCLA. He's a small back who doesn't have great speed. If he can put on some strength, he should be able to make an impact on special teams. You have to hope, though, that it doesn't hit the point where Manfro is getting significant playing time at running back, because that'll likely mean there were some serious injuries ahead of him.

Prediction for the season: Scout team/special teams.
Long term outlook: Scout team/special teams.

Darius Bell (WR): Bell redshirted last season, and worked as a wide receiver on the scout team for most of the season, only occasionally providing some snaps at quarterback, and then after the season it was announced he was officially moving to WR. It's not a move that will likely get him on the field, however. Bell doesn't have a great body, for either quarterback or receiver, at maybe 5-11 and pretty stocky. He ran decent routes and showed solid hands, but lacked quickness off the ball. At 226 pounds, he might fit in Mazzone's offense at the Y or F. Perhaps Mazzone will use him on a specifically designed trick play to throw the ball out of either of those spots. Probably the only way he gets on the field is if he shows a penchant for blocking -- or head hunting on special teams.

Prediction for the season: Scout team/special teams
Long term outlook: Scout team/special teams

Torian White (OT): White is a very good athlete for an offensive tackle, and at times showed some pretty good footwork in pass protection. He didn't look out of place matching up against UCLA's starting defensive ends, although that's probably faint praise. The big question for him is still adding more strength, but he was noticeably bigger by the end of the season. If he comes in and has a good spring, there's a chance he could solve some of UCLA's depth concerns by allowing Jeff Baca to move back inside to guard, which is his more natural position. Odds are, though, that Baca will get the nod at right tackle and White will be the primary backup at both tackle spots to give him another year to get stronger.

Prediction for the season: Primary backup at left and right tackle.
Long term outlook: 3 year starter.

Will Oliver (OT): At 6'7, 300, you can easily say that Oliver has the size to be an offensive tackle, but he really didn't get a chance to display much during the season after suffering a shoulder injury in early November. He's definitely going to be a project, and looks like he could do with a redistribution of his weight, looking very top heavy. After undergoing shoulder surgery in December, it's a question whether he'll be fully ready to go in spring. At this point, it would be a stretch to expect him to provide much depth on the line.

Prediction for the season: Scout team
Long term outlook: Back up/Scout team

Ben Wysocki (OG): Wysocki didn't make a tremendous impact on the scout team this year, but the coaches were liked him. He has a good build for guard, and looks like he can put on more weight. For a guard, he's also a pretty good athlete. While it's tough to project him as a starter, he could certainly provide some depth at guard down the road.

Prediction for the season: Third-string guard
Long term outlook: Back up.

Casey Griffiths (OG): A JC transfer a couple of years ago, it was hoped Griffiths could provide some quality depth, but the word is that Griffiths hasn't show much development and hasn't generally been mentioned in any conversation about the future of the OL. You can probably anticipate that he'll have a hard time winning over the new staff.

Prediction for the season: Battling with incoming freshman for third-string guard, scout team
Long term outlook: Getting over-recruited, scout team

Kody Innes (C/OG): He'll be entering his third year in the program in fall, and it's pretty much the same as the description for Griffiths, however it's a bit more disappointing with Innes since he was a fairly well-hyped high school prospect. He's listed as a center, but didn't play there much on the scout team last season, mostly at guard, and didn't stand out. The word is that he doesn't look to have much of a chance of breaking into the rotation.

Prediction for the season: Battling with incoming freshman for third-string guard, scout team
Long term outlook: Getting over-recruited, scout team

Aaron Wallace (LB): Wallace was a bit of a an unknown coming into the season, after having missed his senior year of high school with an ankle injury. Now, it's pretty safe to say that, after a year of playing very well on the scout team, he'll be getting some playing time this season. He was a force on the inside for the scout team defense, and during the scout on scout scrimmages, he was completely disruptive in the back field. Some of that was having Kevin McReynolds and Brandon Willis eating up blockers in the middle, but Wallace himself showed great strength and agility in run support and pass rush situations. He was another guy who also looked bigger and more muscular by the end of the season, and looks to be rounding into the kind of size you'd want from an outside linebacker. With UCLA looking like it's going to be moving toward more of a hybrid 4-3/3-4 defense, linebackers will be of paramount importance, and you can expect Wallace to factor in to the two deep.

Prediction for the season: Back-up outside linebacker.
Long term outlook: in rotation at linebacker, potential starter

Mike Orloff (LB): Orloff missed the season after undergoing ACL surgery in the fall, so it's hard to project where he'll be. Judging just physically, he's probably a little undersized for a linebacker, and will have to put on some strength. The early word was that he would be ready for spring practice, but we'll check on that.

Prediction for the season: Scout team.
Long term outlook: Back up.

Kevin McReynolds (DT): While Manfro's scout offensive player of the year award came a little out of left field, McReynolds' was well earned. He was nicked up at times, with a concussion early in the fall and a stretched MCL in December, but in between, he was a force for the scout team defense. He's a load inside, and plays with a good pad level. There were some questions about his motor coming into the season, but McReynolds seemed to play with consistent effort. The only question for him is where he fits in to the new defense. If UCLA goes 3-4, he'd probably have to put on a little weight to be a nose tackle, and in a 4-3, he might have 3 or 4 guys ahead of him at defensive tackle. But the future is bright for McReynolds, and it's easy to project him getting some playing time.

Prediction for the season: Back up nose tackle.
Long term outlook: In the rotation at defensive tackle.

Brandon Willis (DT): The Brandon Willis saga ended with him in Westwood this season, and if he'd been eligible to play this season, he might have actually gotten some playing time. . He looks like he has added some weight and strength, and was probably around 285 or so by the end of the season. He's very quick for a defensive tackle, and has a good explosion off the line. He and McReynolds in tandem gave the first-team offensive line fits at times. The question will be, like with McReynolds, where he fits into the new defensive scheme. In a 3-4, he'd probably have to bulk up some more to be a nose tackle, and might have to slim down slightly to play end. His quickness, though, might make up for weight issues.

Prediction for the season: Back up.
Long term outlook: Significant contributor/possible starter.

Anthony Thompson (CB/S): Thompson did not have a good season, consistently getting torched in coverage and not looking particularly quick. He might have more of a future at safety, but he would need to add some strength.

Prediction for the season: Scout team.
Long term outlook: Back up/Scout team.

Anthony Jefferson (CB): Jefferson will be entering his third year in the program in fall, but has only played three games in his career, after being hampered by foot and back injuries. This year, he had back surgery in August, and didn't practice until early November. He certainly looked a step slow when he made it back, and it looked like his back was hampering him quite a bit. The question for him is just going to be a matter of getting back in shape, and also learning to trust his back again. If he can get his conditioning and strength back to where it needs to be during workouts, he could fight it out with the incoming freshmen, and Brandon Sermons, for the fourth cornerback spot.

Prediction for the season: 4th cornerback.
Long term outlook: If recovers fully, possible 2 year starter.

Sam Tai (DE): Tai was actually a bit of a pleasant surprise this year. Again, he was probably helped by playing next to McReynolds and Willis, but Tai had his moments in both the scout on scout drills and against the first team offense. He's a big kid, probably about 250 or 260, and was able to make some plays in the back field. He's not super quick, so he might project best inside which would mean adding some more weight. But he was another bright spot for the at-times very good scout team defense.

Prediction for the season: Scout team
Long term outlook: Back up.

Brandon Tuliaupupu (DT): He looks like he added some weight this year, some of it bad, so he'll need to work on his body. He's very raw, and will likely be a project on the inside. He does have good upside though, showing some good strength.

Prediction for the season: Scout team
Long term outlook: Back up nose tackle.

Ryan Hofmeister (LB): Hofmeister was in and out of practice, suffering through a few nagging injuries. He's definitely undersized, but when he was in, he showed decent quickness and strength. He looks like he's about 5'11 or so, and he's not really big, and could be Sean Westgate-type player down the road, which, on a normal team, means he'll be a quality backup.

Prediction for the season: Scout team/back up.
Long term outlook: Contributor/back up.

Jared Koster (LB): An undersized linebacker, Koster had shown he could make an impact on special teams, playing with a good motor, but some unfortunate injuries have nagged him. He was knocked out for the 2010 season in the Houston game that year on a cheap hit, which made him undergo surgery for a torn labrum on his shoulder. He then has struggled to get back to 100%, suffering from stingers last season. There's a question of whether he'll ever be completely healthy.

Prediction for the season: If healthy, special teams
Long term outlook: If healthy, special teams

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