With UCLA doing well on the field so far in 2005, it's fun to look down the line and project what the team will look like in the next couple of years.
UCLA has generally been pretty young over the last couple of years, and are still this year. In 2006, they generally will be again, with only four seniors projected as starters on offense, and four on defense.
Project this depth chart out again to 2007, and that's the first year when UCLA really has some experience in its depth chart. UCLA could have seven senior starters on offense and possibly eight on defense in 2008.
On offense in 2006, the OL will be young, but talented and fairly experienced. We're projecting that Chris Joseph will probably move to center with the departure of Mike McCloskey and Aleksey Lanis, the true freshman OL this year, will move into that open weakside guard position, and probably rotate with senior-to-be Robert Chai. With the added freshman at OL, the line looks talented and deep. The wide receivers also look good, especially when you figure in the return of Junior Taylor, who is out this season with a torn ACL. The biggest loss is really at tight end, with the departure of Marcedes Lewis. The quarterback position is actually rather thin, again, though. You have, really, two quarterbacks who can probably at least adequately execute the position in Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan, with Osaar Rasshan being questionable.
It really gets exciting here when you potentially plug in an impact kind of recruit like Terrence Austin at wide receiver, or perhaps Konrad Reuland at tight end, or Chane Moline at fullback, players who could come in, given the projected depth chart, and immediately contribute.
Projected 2006 Offensive Depth Chart
QB Ben Olson
Pat Cowan (SO)
Osaar Rasshan (R-FR)
The defense will suffer big losses in its linebackers, but should be overall stronger on the DL and the secondary.
While the DL looks stacked, it really isn't. We foresee Darius Savage and Jerzy Siewierski probably moving up the depth chart pretty quickly, and possibly making the two-deep. Andy Keane could actually play DE, or could end up back on the OL.
We foresee John Hale moving to the weak inside linebacker position to replace Spencer Havner. Bruce Davis, with another year under his belt in the weight room, probably plays more at defensive end than linebacker, and true freshman Reginald Stokes probably has a good chance of making the two-deep, or the other true freshman defensive end UCLA will bring in. We're skeptical Chinonso Anyanwu will put on the bulk to play with his hand down, and could possibly end up at linebacker. Dylan Rush is another who could end up as a 'backer. It will be interesting to see if an improved and more experienced Dan Nelson can hold off Reggie Carter at the middle linebacker position, and if an elite true freshman would be able to contribute. It's easy to see, though, an elite true freshman linebacker, like Allen Bradford or Jonathan Cornell, coming into this depth chart and being able to get immediate playing time.
Trying to balance the safeties, we could see Chris Horton and/or Bret Lockett moving to strong safety, since they play more like strong safeties. The coaches are excited about Robert Kibble as the future free safety.
Projected 2006 Defensive Depth Chart
DE Nikola Dragovic (JR)
Williams Snead (JR)
Chinonso Anyanwu (R-FR)
DE Justin Hickman
Bruce Davis (JR)
<Reginald Stokes (FR)>
<Dylan Rush (FR)>
WILB John Hale
Christian Taylor (JR)
Kyle Bosworth (R-FR)
MLB Dan Nelson
Fred Holmes (JR)
Reggie Carter (R-FR)
This is a solid 2006 depth chart, with some elite talent, and depth at most of the positions, except for linebacker.
Again, it gets particulary exciting to project it out to 2007, with potentially 15 senior starters.
While 2006 potentially could be a solid year given this depth chart, 2007, if things stay on course, could be the season UCLA is poised to really make a serious run. Perhaps the biggest thing UCLA would have to make up for in 2007 would be the loss of Maurice Drew, but if they can get an impact tailback sometime in the next two years, combined with Markey as a senior, the running back position should be okay. Making up for it would be an experienced Ben Olson as a junior, two-year starter at quarterback, along with an OL that returns all of its starters (and with three seniors). The defense should be very good in 2007 with so much experience, especially if defensive tackle Kevin Brown redshirts this year and is around in 2007.