Analysis of 2013 Recruiting Needs

With the 2012 recruiting class in the books, and having recognized some of the best targets for 2013, we take a look at what exactly will be UCLA's recruiting needs for the 2013 class...

UCLA has a scholarship crunch.

As of right now, if the 26 players who signed National Letters of Intent as part of the 2012 class are enrolled by fall, UCLA will have to find 8 scholarships to accommodate them.

As we've reported previously, there will be a number of players leaving the program between now and next fall. In fact, we've heard it could be more than 8.

This pertains in terms of UCLA recruiting the 2013 class by helping us gauge just how many scholarships the program will be able to give out for that class. If UCLA fills its 85 scholarships for the 2012-2013 school year, it will then only have the scholarships that become available from graduating seniors, and UCLA has 15 in the graduating class of 2013. There might, though, be one or two of those seniors that are among those that leave the program before the next school year, so their scholarship would already be utilized.

Really, at this time, you can't determine an exact number of scholarships that will be available for 2013. There are just too many things that will happen between now and fall 2013. But you can use that number of 15 seniors as your basis. Then figure in 1 or 2 already having been utilized for fall of 2012. And then you also have to always figure in natural attrition through transfer, injury or just players hanging it up. Between now and fall of 2013 you can probably expect 3-5 of those types.

So, roughly, UCLA should have about 20 or so scholarships available for the 2013 class. But again, the ever-present caveat: If there's an elite 2013 recruit that wants to jump in the boat the program will make room for him.

So, armed with 20 or so scholarships to give, and then plugging in the 2012 recruits, here's a projection of UCLA's 2013 depth chart. This is not intended to be an accurate projection of player position, but done to get a grasp of recruiting needs for the class of 2013.

QUARTERBACK

The position that jumps out at you clearly is quarterback. UCLA is losing at least three quarterbacks after the 2012 season, Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Nick Crissman. Darius Bell, who was in the same class as those three, redshirted last season and intends to move to wide receiver, so you can essentially count him as another quarterback lost. Projected for the 2013 depth chart is:

Brett Hundley, R-SO
Jerry Neuheisel, R-FR
Devin Fuller, R-FR
T.J. Millweard, R-FR
Eddie Printz, FR, 2013 Committed

It's not bad to be able to project having five scholarship quarterbacks on your roster two seasons down the road. In fact, you have to give the new staff a huge amount of credit for getting commitments from both Fuller and MIllweard -- and Printz -- making this projected depth chart so much better than it would have been.

But there are some extenuating circumstances here. First, and not to be harsh, but to be candid, it's uncertain if Neuheisel is worthy of being a contributor at this level. As a high school prospect we would have said he wasn't. But neither was his father coming out of high school, and we all know what he did in college. Fuller, too, while he has some of the biggest upside of the five on this list, very well might not be in the quarterback depth chart by the fall of 2013. Put it this way: He's either so good that he's seriously competing to start at quarterback, or he's scrapped the quarterback dreams and is probably threatening to start at wide receiver. And with Printz, he's currently a high school junior and only verbally committed to UCLA; in other words, there's a long way to go between now and Signing Day 2013, and who knows if UCLA hangs onto him.

You'd have to think UCLA would be in the market for another quarterback in the class of 2013, mostly because of the uncertainty of Neuheisel, Fuller and Printz. But even if we could project Printz as definitely being enrolled in fall of 2013, and Neuheisel a legitimate contributor and Fuller proving himself at the position, it wouldn't be out of bounds for UCLA to take another quarterback for 2013. The word we've heard is that the new staff recognizes the importance of quarterback recruiting and would rather be over- than under-stocked. Plus, this staff now actually has a dynamic offense and offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, to sell to recruits, which makes it a whole new world for UCLA quarterback recruiting.

Projected Number of 2013 Quarterbacks: 1-2

OFFENSIVE LINE

The issue when projecting a depth chart for 2013 and beyond at offensive line is how many players who should be on the roster actually will be. There could be some that leave the program due to a lack of perceived playing time or, regretfully, injury. Of course, it's almost useless to try to project where the incoming 2012 recruits will end up on the depth chart in the fall of 2013, but for the purposes of projecting depth, we take a shot.

LT: Xavier Su'a Filo, JR; Torian White, SO; Colby Cyburt, R-FR
LG: Chris Ward, SR; Wade Yandall, JR; Casey Griffiths, SR; Lacy Westbrook, R-FR
C: Jacob Brendel, SO; Carl Hulick, R-FR
RG: Greg Capella, SR; Albert Cid, SR; Kody Innes, JR; Ben Wysocki, SO
RT: Alexandru Ceachir, JR; Will Oliver, SO, Simon Goines, R-FR

Again, this depth chart isn't specifically for projecting where we think each of these players will end up in 2013, but merely to get a gauge on depth and recruiting needs.

It generally looks fairly good in terms of depth, two years out. In fact, UCLA will have probably its deepest and most talented group of OL in recent memory (actually, it very well might have that too in 2012).

There are three senior OLs graduating in the 2012 class, Jeff Baca, Brett Downey and Conor Bradford. There there are four 2013 seniors, Ward, Capella, Griffiths and Cid. For two seasons, losing 6 players is just about average, but to be candid, only three, or maybe four, will really be significant contributors. So you can probably expect UCLA to go after an average amount of prospects in 2013.

We know that Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm likes to recruit tackle types, the theory being: It's easier to move a tackle inside than it is to move an inside player to tackle. In other words, good, pure tackle types are difficult to find. But if there's some weakness in terms of depth you'd have to say it's inside, at guard.

We have also heard that Klemm and the new staff highly value having strong, capable OL depth and would, again, rather over- than under-stock this position.

Projected Number of 2013 Offensive Linemen: 4

TIGHT END

The tight end position is clearly a position of need for 2013.

John Young, JR
Ian Taubler, F-FR

This looks thin, but Mazzone's offense doesn't really use a traditional tight end. The position clearly won't be used like it has been recently at UCLA -- as predominantly a sixth offensive lineman and occasional receiver. And it won't need great depth because it just doesn't utilize the two-tight end alignment like UCLA has. Mazzone has tended to go more toward the smaller, H-back, fullback-types as his "tight end." Picture Ryan Moya. You could see someone else on the roster being moved to this spot by 2013.

Projected Number of 2013 Tight Ends: 1

RUNNING BACK

The depth at running back for 2013 looks good on paper, for now, but it's very difficult to project how this will look by, say, even fall of 2012. There could be some considerable shake-out at the position, or some of the 2012 committed athletes might prove they have a legitimate future at tailback.

A note: For the sake of this analysis, we're not going to include a fullback position, since the spot doesn't really exist in Mazzone's offense. We were actually kind of wondering exactly how Christian Powell, the 2012 fullback who was verbally committed to UCLA before committing to Colorado, would have been utilized. There has been some talk that Mazzone was going to incorporate some pro-style sets, but we'll include a fullback in the depth chart when we actually see that.

Malcolm Jones, SR
Jordon James, JR
Steven Manfro, SO
Fabian Moreau, R-FR
Paul Perkins, R-FR

Regardless of what happens this fall at the position (say, Moreau and Perkins turn out to be legit at the position), you can clearly expect UCLA to go out and try to find at least one big-time tailback in the class of 2013. If, then, among Manfro, Moreau, Perkins or any of the other athletes/F backs in the 2012 class, UCLA doesn't really have a future carry-the-load tailback, it very well might intend to take two tailbacks in the 2013 class.

Projected Number of 2013 Running Backs: 1-2

WIDE RECEIVER

This is where it's going to get wild and wooly because, with Mazzone's offense, it's a complete departure for UCLA. Mazzone runs a system that utilizes the spread type of receiver spots, X, Y an Z, as well as the F. Essentially these are all wide receiver types, and their roles are defined by their physical attributes and abilities. What you need to know right now in terms of projected depth chart and recruiting needs is that Mazzone's offense uses 3-5 receivers on any given play, so there is a need for far more depth at receiver than in a conventional pro-style set (or in the Pistol). While, for the last decade, UCLA has had more or less 5 receivers in its rotation that saw the field in any given game (at the most), you can now expect 7-8. So that creates a much bigger demand for depth at the position.

Shaquelle Evans, SR
Ricky Marvray, SR
Damien Thigpen, SR
Darius Bell, JR
Devin Lucien, SO
Jerry Rice, JR (walk on)
Jordan Payton, SO
Randall Goforth, R-FR?
Javon Williams, R-FR?
Ahmaad Harris, R-FR?

There are many question marks here. After Evans and Marvray, and probably Lucien, it's pretty much up for grabs. This fall, of course, will sort out most of how this looks for fall of 2013, and that will greatly impact how UCLA approaches its wide receiver recruiting for 2013. I'll go out on a little bit of a limb and predict that Jordan Payton will play as a true freshman, since he's the most physically ready. Regardless of how it shakes out, even if Payton, Williams and Harris all pan out, and Goforth does play receiver, it's a very safe bet to project, even this far in advance, that UCLA will want at least 3 receivers in the 2013 class, especially with three seniors graduating in 2013.

A note: In Mazzone's offense, the X and Z spots are more or less the typical wide receiver/flanker positions. The Y spot is the slot, which utilizes a bigger, near-tight end type, and the F is the smaller, quicker type that commonly lines up in the backfield and almost always goes in motion. So, it will be interesting to see how UCLA's existing and incoming receivers plug into these rolls under Mazzone. It has to be said: While we reported that Anthony Barr is moving to strongside linebacker, he does look to be the perfect Y type in Mazzone's offense.

Projected Number of 2013 Receivers: 3-4

DEFENSIVE LINE

It's also difficult to project a depth chart for 2013 when we don't really know at this point if Jim Mora and UCLA Defensive Coordinator Lou Spanos are going to run a base 4-3 or 3-4. Spanos told us it will utilize multiple alignments, but didn't elaborate.

For the sake of analyzing depth and recruiting needs, then, we'll stick with the conventional 4-3 here.

DE: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, SR; Iuta Tepa, SR; Sam Tai, SO
DT: Brandon Willis, JR; Sealii Epenesa, SR, Kevin McReynolds, SO; Brandon Tuliaupupu, SO
DT: Ellis McCarthy, SO; Cassius Marsh, SR,
DE: Keenan Graham, SR: Nate Iese, R-FR; Eli Ankou, R-FR

The depth at defensive tackle -- two years out -- is outstanding. And it's just not bodies, but talent: There are four U.S. Army All-Americans on the depth chart at DT. What it might mean, though, is someone might, by 2013, be a little disgruntled about playing time and there could be some transfers.

Defensive end is thin, especially if you figure you lose Owa, Tepa and Graham after the 2013 season. We think eventually, too, Tai and Ankou might be better suited playing inside. But you could also possibly add Castro to the DE depth, since he very well could end up there. And if the base D is a 3-4, a few of the listed DTs end up at DE, too.

Projected Number of 2013 Defensive Ends: 2-3

Projected Number of 2013 Defensive Tackles: 1-2

LINEBACKER

The projected depth at linebacker for 2013 is fairly good, with UCLA only losing one linebacker after the 2012 season (Patrick Larimore).

SSLB: Jordan Zumwalt, SR; Aaron Wallace, SO; Mike Orloff, SO, Jeremy Castro, R-FR
MLB: Isaiah Bowens, SR; Todd Golper, SR; Aaron Porter, R-FR
WLB: Eric Kendricks, JR; Aramide Olaniyan, JR; Ryan Hofmeister, SO; Kenny Orjioke, R-FR

You lose three to graduation -- Zumwalt, Bowens and Golper (We heard Golper could be plugged in at fullback if Mazzone utilizes the position). Castro, as I said above, could end up at defensive end. But Iese, too, could end up at linebacker.

It's solid depth so far in advance, but they'll need to keep the talent coming.

Projected Number of 2013 Linebackers: 2-3

DEFENSIVE BACK

This is easily the unit that will take the biggest hit from 2012 graduation on the entire squad, losing four significant players.

CB: Ishmael Adams, SO?; Brandon Sermons, SR; Dashon Hunt, FR, 2013 Committed
FS: Tevin McDonald, JR; Alex Mascarenas, SR; Anthony Thompson, SO
SS: Dietrich Riley, SR; Stan McKay, SR; Taylor Lagace, R-FR
CB: Anthony Jefferson, JR; Marcus Rios, R-FR, Justin Combs, R-FR

Orjioke, who we list with the linebackers, will probably get his first shot at safety. But the kid is close to 6-4 and 225 pounds and he's only 16, so that's why we project him as eventually being a linebacker.

The unit graduates four in the class of 2013. So, look for UCLA to stock up on DBs in the 2013 recruiting class. It's a huge coup that UCLA already has Hunt, one of the best in the west at his position for 2013, verbally committed. Of course, like with Printz, though, it's a long ways until Signing Day 2013. It would be understandable if UCLA went the JC route here to get a player or players that are more prepared to play immediately in 2013.

Projected Number of 2013 Cornerbacks: 2

Projected Number of 2013 Safeties: 2

PUNTER

Jeff Locke graduates in 2012.

Projected Number of 2013 Punters: 1


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