Newcomers to Offensive Depth Chart

Going into UCLA's fall football camp this Saturday, here are some of the issues to watch for on offense, and a projection of the offensive depth chart, plugging in the incoming freshmen...

UCLA's Fall Football Camp in San Bernadino begins this Saturday. and it's difficult to project what depth chart moves will take place in fall camp.

We do have spring practice to go on, but with so much new with UCLA football -- coaches, schemes, the freshman class -- it's a dubious endeavor to try to predict how the depth chart will look at the end of fall camp.

But at the very least here are some things to watch for on the defensive side of the ball in terms of the depth chart going into fall practice Saturday.

We've analyzed all the current players throughout spring, so we're going to focus quite a bit on how we think the incoming freshmen will fill out the depth chart.

SKILL POSITIONS

Offensively, it's clear that the primary spot that needs immediate reinforcements is at receiver. Noel Mazzone's offense is pass-happy, with commonly four receivers on the field, so it's a completely new ballgame for UCLA's receivers. Over the last couple of seasons -- heck, over the last 10 years -- UCLA hasn't exactly been Receiver U, but Mazzone's offense will quickly change that reputation.

Most immediately, this season, UCLA, logically, brought in a good number of receiver types with the 2012 class because it was thin at receiver and Mazzone needs a stable.

So, the question is: Who among the incoming freshmen will be the most likely to get immediate playing time?

Jordan Payton, the 6-2, 205-pounder is easily the most physically ready to play. He, in fact, looked physically ready to play as a sophomore in high school. He's big, has very good hands and is tough to bring down. He's not a speed burner but any means, but he's strong -- strong enough to come in and immediately play. His issue as a senior was, well, first he was nicked up. But he also seemed to lack a competitiveness. He had a great amount of talent, enough to be considered among the top handful of receivers in the west for 2012. But he disappeared sometimes on the field at Oaks Christian. It was generally thought that Payton, while talented, could have some motivational issues, and it's still believed that could be what limits his capability of getting immediate playing time as a freshman. However, UCLA wide receiver coach Eric Yarber knows Payton well, having coached his older brother, and if there's a coach that's capable of getting Payton mentally prepared to play as a freshman it's probably Yarber. If Yarber can make Payton grow up pretty quickly, he's probably the #1 incoming receiver candidate to get a good amount of playing time.

Kenny Walker, the 5-9, 175-pounder from Richmond Kennedy, is also a good bet to play. Walker does have the speed, good shiftiness and is a talented pass-catcher, and was a prized recruit by many top programs, which considered him possibly ready to contribute as a freshman. You could maybe even see him getting consideration as a returner. He might be a bit slight physically, but you can probably expect him to be in the 185-range by the time he's been on campus this summer for a couple of months.

Fabian Moreau, the 6-0, 185-pounder from Davie (Fla.) Western, was originally labeled a running back but UCLA has changed his position to wide receiver, and we're told he'll get his first look in fall camp there. We haven't seen Moreau, but have heard he has good speed and, from what we hear, might be more of a hybrid-type of running back/receiver in the style of James, Because of that, and the speed -- and that he actually measured at 6-0 -- he might have a chance to break into the receiver depth chart.

Javon Williams, the 6-5, 195-pounder from Chandler (Ariz.) High, might sound height- and weight-wise like he's ready, but he more than likely isn't. Wiliams is pretty thin and needs to bulk up and get stronger, and he's still very raw as a pass catcher. We think he'll more than likely redshirt.

We have to admit, we simply don't know that much about Ahmaad Harris, the 5-6, 170-pounder from Suwanee (Georgia) Peachtree Ridge, so this is complete guesswork. Harris wasn't highly recruited, is supposed to have decent speed but, obviously, is pretty small. He'd probably plug in as an F receiver, but we feel that UCLA is probably fairly well-stocked for the season there, with hopefully the healthy return of Ricky Marvray along with Jordon James, Steven Manfro and even Damien Thigpen able to do time at the spot, a position that isn't on the field for every down. He could come into fall practice and completely surprise everyone, but it would be a complete surprise if he's good enough to move ahead of that depth chart.

Paul Perkins, the 5-11, 190-pounder from Chandler (Ariz.) High, is initially slotted to start off at running back. But that really doesn't mean much, since the coaches really won't know until they see all of the freshmen in person and, in Mazzone's offense, skill guys can line up just about anywhere (like James this spring). We think Perkins is probably the purest running back coming into UCLA, will more than likely stay at that position and, given the depth there for 2012, will probably redshirt. Perkins, though, was also a good cornerback in high school and could possibly see himself there this fall, with UCLA thin at that position.

One of the biggest question marks and intriguing storylines among the incoming recruits for fall is Devin Fuller, the 6-0, 195-pound elite prospect from Old Tappan (New Jersey) Northern Valley. Fuller, an outstanding athlete, is the #3-ranked quarterback in the nation for 2012 by Scout.com. He's coming to UCLA as a quarterback, and we've heard that he'll get a chance to be a QB at UCLA. If he shows the capability of a big-time arm, we're all for him being a quarterback. But if he doesn't look like he's a fit at the position, he has shown, like in the U.S. Army All-American game and practice, that he can be an absolutely electric receiver.

So here's the really interesting part, with a few scenarios you could foresee happening.

Let's say Fuller begins his UCLA career in August as a quarterback and, whether he's worthy of it or not, stays at quarterback. If he does, more than likely, he'll be redshirting and running the scout team next season. Even though he was the #3-ranked QB in the nation, much of that ranking was based on his athleticism, not his throwing ability. Plus, like with Hundley, it's a tough thing to come in as a true freshman and compete to start (and Hundley even had the benefit of coming in for spring practice). So, we just can't see him coming in and supplanting Hundley or Brehaut and he'd have to do that not to redshirt.

But we think, given what we've seen and heard of Fuller as an athlete and potential receiver, that he'd be able to come to UCLA this fall and be put immediately into the receiver rotation. What if Fuller perceives that he isn't getting immediate playing time at quarterback, but there's a heck of a lot to probably be had at receiver? Will he forego being a quarterback for probably the more likely future of being an elite receiver? Or will he hold on to the quarterback dream? And then, will he do it in time to not get set back too far in terms of his receiver development and make an impact as a true freshman?

If he doesn't project as a quarterback, it could actually be a multi-year endeavor before he decides to make the switch.

It's really impossible to know or speculate about. So much will be determined by how Fuller himself feels and that's a complete uncertainty until the kid gets immersed in fall camp, at least.

Randall Goforth, the 6-0, 175-pounder from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, is probably another player who is talented enough to come in and possibly contribute as a true freshman at receiver. The thing is, Goforth is a very good receiver prospect but an excellent cornerback prospect, and that's probably the spot where his future lies. He's slated to start at UCLA as a corner, and UCLA isn't exactly deep at corner either so it seems logical that Goforth will be a cornerback.

Ian Taubler, the 6-4, 250-pound tight end from Fresno (Calif.) Bullard, will fill in at the Y receiver spot in Mazzone's offense, and he could very well have a chance to play this fall. Fauria is the starter, but he tends to get nicked up. Bell was nicked in spring practice, and Young has spent more time in his UCLA career outside of the sideline injured than inside the sideline. In fact, we've heard that Taubler looked good in the summer workouts, especially since Fauria continued to be nicked up, and John Young was still sitting out. Plus, there are times in Mazzone's offense when the Y actually is more of a blocking-type of tight end. Not often, but sometimes, and Taubler might be the guy most suited on the roster to fulfill that role. In fact, we wouldn't be entirely surprised if Taubler grows into an offensive lineman; when we saw him last spring he looked like one physically, and would be a very athletic one.

LINEMEN

Four true freshmen OLs will join the ranks in August. Simon Goines, the big tackle-type, is getting billed as the guy who would have the best chance at impacting the two-deep the earliest. We've seen Goines in person, and he is a good-looking physical specimen, but we'd be surprised if a true freshman who was billed somewhat as a project would be able to come in and immediately compete for the starting right tackle spot. All we can go on is what we're being told, so based on that we'll project Goines as a guy who will have a very good chance of being in the mix at tackle in the next several years. UCLA is saying they feel he'll have a chance to make the two-deep.

It's tough to project where high school seniors, especially offensive linemen, will be in a couple of years in their development. We're pretty familiar, though, with Colby Cyburt and, while he has a ways to go in terms of his body and getting bigger and stronger, Cyburt has a chance because of his athleticism and feet. He might only be 6-4ish, but the quick feet and lack of true tackle types on the roster will get him a shot at tackle.

Carl Hulick, on the other hand, is a guy who is pretty built out already as a senior. At about 6-1 to 6-2, his body doesn't have too much upside, but he might not need it since he, right now, looks like a Russian wrestler. Given what we've seen of him and what we've heard, we believe he'll be involved in the two-deep at center within a year or two. Mora has been talking like Hulick will be able to come in and compete to start at center, but we're thinking it's more of an effort on Mora's part to motivate Brendel in the off-season.

Lacy Westbrook was slated to grayshirt and come to UCLA in spring, but he suffered a brain aneurysm earlier this month and underwent surgery to repair it. He has been recovering since and is doing well, but will have a long way to recover in general, not just in regard to football.

Conor McDermott, the OL prospect from Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth, who committed to UCLA out of the 2011 class, is enrolled and will be at fall practice. McDermott is the younger brother of current UCLA longsnapper Kevin McDermott. He, reportedly, is a good athlete who, at 6-8, got some recruiting looks as a basketball player. UCLA took him a year ago as a project, intending for him to grayshirt, but he weighed in at 247. It's interesting that the new coaching staff decided to honor the commitment, either through obligation, respect for his older brother, or that they legitimately see McDermott as a prospect who could contribute sometime. We won't be able to make any kind of determination ourselves until we see him in fall camp.

A couple of notes about current players:

-- In the projected depth chart below, we listed a number of players (like Marvray, James, Manfro, etc.) at various positions since during spring they lined up at different places. We also think that the coaches would, if beset with injury at one position, opt for a second-stringer at another position in many cases rather than resort to a 3rd-, 4th- or 5th-stringer.

-- Marvray experienced disc problems in his back during spring and had surgery. At the time it was uncertain if he'd be able to play this fall, but the latest out of UCLA is that he's ready to participate in fall camp, even though we're skeptical, based on what we heard in terms of the seriousness of the injury. Marvray is a critical part of the depth chart, giving Mazzone that one more experienced, talented receiver, who can plug in at just about any of the receiver spots. Without him, UCLA is far more dependent on a freshman -- or freshmen -- stepping up. So, keep an eye on Marvray this fall, to see if he's legitimately recovered.

-- Even though Baca was moved to right tackle obstensibly because Torian White was injured, we think when the coaches need to get their best five OLs on the field Baca will ultimately end up starting at right tackle.

-- We still believe that Anthony Barr could eventually come back to the offensive side of the ball and become a Y, since we think he's best suited for that spot, especially in Mazzone's offense. It's clear, from Mora's recent comments on Barr, that he needs to have an impact at linebacker pretty quickly to stay on the defensive side of the ball.

Italics designate true freshman
@ If Fuller opts to play receiver
^ If Fuller opts to remain at quarterback

OFFENSE

X Receiver
9 Jerry Johnson (6-4, 218, Sr.**)
15 Devin Lucien (6-1, 192, Fr.**)
Devin Fuller (6-0, 195, Fr.) @
Kenny Walker (6-0, 175, Fr.)


Left Tackle
56 Xavier Su'a-Filo (6-4, 310, So.)
77 Torian White (6-6, 295, Fr.**)

Left Guard
64 Greg Capella (6-4, 310, Jr.**)
76 Alexandru Ceachir (6-5, 305, So.)


Center
54 Jake Brendel (6-5, 295, Fr.**)
64 Greg Capella (6-4, 310, Jr.**)
51 Tre Hale (6-2, 308, So.**)
Carl Hulick (6-2, 296, Fr.)
63 Kody Innes (6-4, 285, So.**)

Right Guard
72 Alberto Cid (6-4, 305, Jr.**)
75 Chris Ward (6-4, 318, Jr.)
55 Ben Wysocki (6-4, 306, Fr.**)

Right Tackle
60 Jeff Baca (6-4, 304, Sr.**)
78 Brett Downey (6-7, 305, Sr.**)
73 Will Oliver (6-7, 305, Fr.**)
Simon Goines (6-6, 314, Fr.)

Y Receiver
8 Joseph Fauria (6-7, 258, Sr.**)
3 Darius Bell (6-0, 230, Jr.*)
Ian Taubler (6-4, 250, Fr.)
85 John Young (6-5, 280, So.**)
89 Jordan Barrett (6-3, 257, Jr.**)

F Receiver
7 Ricky Marvray (6-0, 190, Jr.**)
6 Jordon James (5-11, 200, So.**)
25 Damien Thigpen (5-9, 185, Jr.**)

Quarterback
17 Brett Hundley (6-4, 225, Fr.**)
12 Richard Brehaut (6-2, 225, Sr.)
4 Kevin Prince (6-2, 230, Sr.**)
11 Jerry Neuheisel (6-2, 190, Fr.)

Fullback
41 David Allen (6-2, 224, Sr.**)
28 Malcolm Jones (6-0, 227, Jr.)

Tailback
23 Johnathan Franklin (5-10, 205, Sr.**)
28 Malcolm Jones (6-0, 227, Jr.)
6 Jordon James (5-11, 200, So.**)
33 Steven Manfro (5-11, 195, Fr.**)
25 Damien Thigpen (5-9, 185, Jr.**)

Z Receiver
1 Shaquelle Evans (6-1, 205,Jr.**)
7 Ricky Marvray (6-0, 190, Jr.**)
Jordan Payton (6-2, 205, Fr.)
88 Jerry Rice, Jr. (6-0, 182, Jr.**)
86 Logan Sweet (6-1, 185, Fr.**)
81 Tyler Scott (6-2, 214, Fr.**)

Incoming freshmen who likely will redshirt:

QB -- T.J. Millweard (6-4, 230, Fr.)
QB -- Devin Fuller (6-0, 195, Fr.) ^
RB -- Paul Perkins (5-11, 190, Fr.)
WR -- Fabian Moreau (6-0, 185, Fr.)
WR -- Javon Williams (6-5, 195, Fr.)
F -- Ahmaad Harris (5-6, 170, Fr.)
OL -- Colby Cyburt (6-4, 265, Fr.)
OL -- Conor McDermott (6-8, 247, Fr.)


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