Wide Receiver Projection
WR Jordan Payton*
Slot Thomas Duarte
Slot Devin Fuller
WR Eldridge Massington
Key Potential Contributors
WR Devin Lucien
Slot Mossi Johnson
WR Jordan Lasley
WR Alex Van Dyke
WR Kenny Walker
(Freshmen, Austin Roberts, etc.)
A Look at 2015
Unless there's a significant injury, UCLA returns all four starters from what was a pretty good receiving corps in 2015. Payton put together a very fine year in replacing Shaquelle Evans and would seem to be fully poised to be a go-to target for whoever the new quarterback ends up being. Payton is a really good, possession-type receiver, and, really, it’s a roster full of solid, possession receivers with good size. Duarte, Massington, Van Dyke, Roberts, and even Johnson all possess good physicality to go along with their other unique skillsets. Even Lasley, in his year off from playing as he redshirts, has put on what looks like a good ten pounds of muscle and looks like a much more physical version of the receiver we saw in high school.
If there are two missing pieces, we’d have to say that UCLA could still use a true tight end type (like, say, a Joseph Fauria) who can create mismatches simply due to his size, and the Bruins could also use an elite game-breaker -- and the hope is that UCLA will fill those holes in recruiting with committed speedster Ryan Newsome and uncommitted (but UCLA leaning) tight end Chris Clark. Of players currently on the roster, Mossi Johnson may be able to fill some of that playmaker role, but his top end speed is probably not uber-elite, with quickness being more his forte. Even if UCLA doesn’t lock down Newsome or Clark to fill those roles, though, you’d have to say UCLA’s receiving corps should be just as good, if not better than it was last year.
Between Fuller, Massington, Duarte, and Lucien (not to mention Payton), UCLA returns a great deal of experience and talent. When you factor in what Johnson could do with a year of seasoning (and another year removed from his knee injury), what Walker might be able to accomplish as he continues to improve his route-running and hands, and then what the freshmen who redshirted or played minimally might be able to contribute, it stands to reason that UCLA’s receivers should be a very good unit next year.
Roberts, from what we heard when he came in, was easily the most impressive of the true freshmen receivers, looking a bit like a physical freak, with great size and speed, before he tore his ACL. We’ve heard he’s progressing well, and is on track to be ready to go by next year. Lasley has drawn rave reviews over the last few months, having seemed to mature a bit, both physically and mentally. Van Dyke, obviously, impressed the coaches enough to burn his redshirt, and if he can continue to fill out physically this offseason, he could also help to fill that role as a sizable mismatch for opposing defenses.
Assuming everyone remains healthy and UCLA does snag a couple of receivers (in Clark and Newsome, not to mention L.J. Reed) who can make an impact early, the Bruins should have an upgraded cast of receivers that will likely rank among the top units in the Pac-12.
Will the receivers be better in 2015? Most likely yes.
Projected 2015 Two-Deep
WR SR Jordan Payton, RS FR Jordan Lasley
Slot JR Thomas Duarte, SO Alex Van Dyke OR Freshman
Slot SR Devin Fuller, SO Mossi Johnson, Freshman
WR RS SO Eldridge Massington, RS SR Devin Lucien
2015 Wide Receiver Projection
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