Uncommitted Who Could Impact the Most

Jan. 29 -- These six remaining UCLA targets could come in and play as true freshmen, and here's how...

We’ve analyzed at length what kind of impact UCLA’s committed recruits could make next season as true freshmen. Obviously quarterback Josh Rosen will have a considerable impact, competing for the starting QB job, and you’d have to expect JC offensive lineman Zach Bateman to vie for a spot on the starting OL. Even most-recent commit Ryan Newsome, with his blazing speed, might have a very good chance to crack the receiver rotation since he brings something different (that speed) to the table.

We haven’t, though, gone too deep into the non-committed UCLA targets that could make an immediate splash as true freshmen in 2015.

An aside: Jim Mora in his three years at UCLA, has played quite a few true freshmen – mostly because he needed to. We think there’s a chance a good number of true freshmen compete for playing time in 2015, too, but not out of necessity – more out of talent.

Sotonye Jamabo | 6-2.5/205 | RB | Plano (Texas) West

No. 1 RB | No. 18 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: UCLA’s depth chart at running back looks pretty good for 2015 – with the Pac-12 leading rusher Paul Perkins returning and a sophomore-to-be Nathan Starks looking like he has a great deal of upside. Even so, there is definitely room for a guy with such unique talent like Jamabo. Jamabo is the type of talent that you don’t necessarily just plug in but you scheme specifically to get him the ball. We’ve had a few reservations about Jamabo, namely that he’s a 6-3ish, 205-pound finesse runner, but he’s proven more and more that he truly has the potential to be a game-changing type of talent. If he’s a Bruin, the UCLA coaches are going to try to get the ball in his hands as a true freshman, either handing it off to him or throwing it to him – to the point that he could be in for a good amount of snaps as a true freshman. We think, too, by his sophomore year, after being in UCLA’s program for a year he’ll actually push Perkins – who would be a senior and three-year starter in 2016 – for the starting spot.

Chris Clark | 6-6/247 | TE | Avon (Conn.) Old Farms

No. 1 TE | No. 23 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: UCLA hasn’t had a real tight end since Joe Fauria left for the NFL two years ago. UCLA’s offense is pretty resilient and flexible, being able to adapt to not having that type of player, but why should it? In Noel Mazzone’s spread scheme, a big tight end type creates some considerable match-up problems for defenses. It also allows UCLA to play more smashmouth, with another big-bodied blocker on the line of scrimmage (something UCLA did to a limited degree with offensive tackle Poasi Moala this year without the pass-catching ability). In other words, a true tight end type provides a couple of very potent dimensions in UCLA’s offense – and the guy who would bring that back to UCLA’s scheme is Chris Clark. Because he would be a unique weapon we’re just about certain Clark would play as a true freshman, and we think he’d play quite a bit. He’s not really Fauria, because actually he’s more physical and probably a better blocker, which would enable him to be used in more sets than Fauria even was. The more we think about it, the more we think Clark could have the biggest impact of any 2015 recruit that could be in UCLA’s fall camp next to Josh Rosen.

Maea Teuhema | 6-5/330 | OG | Keller (Texas)

No. 1 OG | No. 42 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: UCLA, in 2015, is now at the point it will have experienced talent on its offensive line. It’s taken Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm three years to build it, but it’s now officially here this fall. In the last two years, Klemm had to use young, inexperienced talent – many true freshmen actually – on his OL because of where the OL was when he inherited it three years ago. Many times it wasn’t so much a matter of those freshman OLs being so talented, just that Klemm had other options. Now, he has options but, the thing is, Teuhema might be talented enough to come in as true freshman, when UCLA is talented and experienced on its OL, and actually win a starting position. If Klemm thought there was someone who was clearly going to be very good at offensive guard, at least on the level of Scott Quessenberry, he might actually opt to redshirt Quessenberry, just to give him time to recuperate from his off-season surgery and get bigger and stronger. We think Teuhema is perhaps good enough to make Klemm think about it. Teuhema is a big boy, at 6-5 and 350, and ideally would need to improve his body before he saw the field. But it could be a case that, despite needing that body work, he’s still too good to keep off the field.

Roquan Smith | 6-1/208 | LB | Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County

No. 1 MLB | No. 62 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: The Butkus Award and Lott Trophy winner, Erick Kendricks, is leaving a huge hole in the middle of UCLA’s defense. It will probably be filled by sophomore Kenny Young, but when UCLA plays in its base 3-4, it will need someone to replace Young’s role as the inside linebacker next to Kendricks. There will be a decent amount of candidates for it who are already on the roster. Smith, though, is the #1-ranked middle linebacker in the nation, and he’s a talented kid. He’s very fast and athletic, and has great instincts. He’s kind of Kendricks with better athleticism. He still needs to get bigger physically, at just about 6-1 and 210, so he could be a little light to play as a true freshman. But he could also be, like the other guys on this list, too talented to keep off the field. If UCLA did get Smith we could see him competing in fall to fill the role of Kenny Young last season.

Joseph Wicker | 6-2/275 | DT | Long Beach (Calif.) Poly

No. 11 DT | No. 93 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: There is a legitimate worry if you project out UCLA’s interior defensive line a couple of years. After Kenneth Clark, who is going to be a junior in the 2015 season, UCLA really has no one who can fulfill that role. Ainuu Taua, who redshirted as a freshman in 2014, more than likely at his size can’t be an every-down nose, but is more of a situational one. Wicker right now is probably just 270 pounds but he’s strong and has a great frame to put on more good weight. While he probably prefers to play the three-technique he might eventually learn that three-techniques are a dime a dozen but nose tackles are rare. Wickers moved inside this year as a high school senior and his quickness there was devastating. Whether he plays the nose of the three-technique down the line, we think Wicker has the talent to make an impact on the interior DL next year, and also because UCLA is a bit thin there.

Dechaun Holiday | 6-2.5/205 | DB | San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills

No. 11 CB | No. 76 Overall

Why He Could Impact as a Freshman: Holiday is going to be interesting to watch as a college player. He’s ranked by Scout.com as a cornerback and has played in it high school. He doesn’t physically look like a cornerback, at a legit 6-2 and 208 (He’s actually probably bigger than Roquan Smith). He isn’t going to lock down college receivers with his quickness but be the kind of corner that takes out receivers with size and physicality. The question is whether his cover skills will be good enough on the next level. There is a pretty big need at UCLA for a lockdown cover corner, as was witnessed in the Alamo Bowl against Kansas State. If Holiday can actually do it, and shows he has an elite combination of cover skills and that size, he could very well step right in to starting at one of the corner spots.

***We aren’t including Iman Marshall, the five-star defensive back prospect from Long Beach Poly, on this list. It’s not that we don’t think he’d make an immediate impact at UCLA; we do. In fact, just about everything we wrote about Holiday above would pertain to Marshall but even moreseo. We just don’t want to include him on this list since we maintain it’s a huge longshot he ends up at UCLA.

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