Projected Depth Charts

Getting way ahead of ourselves, here are the projected depth charts and recruiting needs for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. UCLA has some considerable young talent on its roster over the next two years, and doesn't have many holes to fill. First -- DEFENSE.

Now with signing day in the books, it's appropriate to do a far-premature look at UCLA's personnel for the next two years. 


UCLA's roster looked generally stocked with young – and seemingly talented – players before this last signing day.  But it seems even moreso now.  In fact, UCLA is stocked better than in any time in the last five or six years. 


You'd have to expect a little attrition, which always seems to erode away at UCLA's depth.  But looking at the depth on both offense and defense right now, there is quite a bit to be positive about over the next couple of years.




Projecting a depth chart for the next two years, the real question mark is at defensive line. And it isn't even a question mark for next year, but just the year after that. But overall, looking two years down the road, if defensive line is the real question mark that has to be answered  -- than the rest of the defense looks to be in very good shape from a depth standpoint.


Projected 2003 Depth Chart:


DE: Mat Ball (SR), Kevin Harbour (R-FR), Kirby Joseph (R-FR), Bruce Davis (FR), Noah Sutherland (FR), James Jessen (SO)

DT: Rodney Leisle (SR), C.J. Niusulu (SO)

DT: Ryan Boschetti (SR), Thomas Patton (R-FR), Kevin Brown (FR)

DE: Dave Ball (SR), Asi Faoa (SR), David Tautofi (SR), Junior Lemau'u  (FR), Aaron Whittington (FR)


For next season, this is a pretty good list of personnel. The biggest key, obviously, for next year, was the return of Rod Leisle for his senior season.  The entire outlook on the depth chart changes because of his presence. Because of his return, UCLA has experienced talent (six seniors) at every position and decent, young depth, which is the way it should be.


Considering the two-deep for next season, at defensive end, Kevin Harbour got rave reviews last year and looks to be a solid name on the two-deep.  You'd also think that Kirby Joseph would be the next candidate for playing time, Joseph really representing the new, smaller, quicker defensive end type.  Tautofi will get some time to relieve the starters.  And among the newcomers, Junior Lemau'u looks the most physically ready to play. With Faoa and Harbour supplying the two deep, and Joseph looking like the next option, the two-deep looks a bit crowded next season but Lemau'u is an elite talent and he could leap-frog at least a couple on the depth chart, possibly Joseph and even Harbour, and get playing time next season.  You would anticipate Davis, Whittington and Sutherland to redshirt. 


There has been quite a bit of speculation about Marcedes Lewis getting time at defensive end but, as of now, the new coaching staff has indicated to Lewis that they are thinking of him only as an offensive player.


As stated, with Leisle staying, UCLA looks quite good at defensive tackle, with a good blend of old, experienced starters and younger, talented backups.  Leisle and Boschetti could be the among the best tandem of DTs in the Pac-10 next season.  Niusulu, in the limited time he played last season, looked very, very good.  In fact, he looked so good there are many that believe he could seriously contend for Boschetti's starting position.  Now, after Niusulu is where the DL for next year might have some questions that need to be answered. Thomas Patton looked good in practice last season, but still some development away from being a dependable contributor.  How he fares this spring practice will be a huge indicator whether he can hold down the backup spot at one defensive tackle position. 


Probably one of the selling points to get Kevin Brown to become a Bruin was that he'd be able to come in as a true freshman and have a good shot at making the two-deep.  And it's true.  He's talented enough, and physically strong enough, to contribute as a true freshman, in much the same way as Niusulu did last season.  He very well could see time as the fifth defensive tackle, but also move ahead of Patton in the hierarchy. 


You might also anticipate that there could be some candidates to move from DE to DT. It makes sense since the word is that UCLA is trying to upgrade its speed and quickness at every position. For next season, it wouldn't be unexpected if Tautofi provided depth at defensive tackle. And it wouldn't be a surprise if Noah Sutherland made a move to tackle. At 6-5 and 250, you'd have to anticipate he'd put on some considerably more weight while he's at UCLA, which might move him in to being a defensive tackle, and the coaches might want to get him started there his first year in the program.


Projected 2004 Depth Chart:


DE: Kevin Harbour (SO), Kirby Joseph (SO), Bruce Davis (R-FR), James Jessen (JR) FR DE

DT: C.J. Niusulu (JR), Thomas Patton (SO),  FR DT

DT:  Kevin Brown (SO), Noah Sutherland (R-FR), JC DT

DE:  Junior Lemau'u (R-FR/SO), Aaron Whittington (R-FR), JC DE


Of course, it's incredibly premature to make judgements about who will be the starters in the 2004 season, especially since you'd have to project players that have never even played a down of college football, or even practiced. And we're not trying to provide any predictions, but only a sense of the future depth. 


If you look at the personnel for 2004, the roster is particularly stacked – except at DL.  If everything falls relatively into place as you would expect, the DL by 2004 will be the one true question mark.  This projected depth chart has talent, but it's very young and inexperienced.  There are no returning starters on the DL, and possibly two of your starters might not have even played the previous season. It's probably the biggest reason why Kevin Brown won't redshirt in 2003 – to get him real-game experience for when he might have to start in 2004. 


You would think, though, that UCLA will try to get some immediate help on the DL in 2004 from the JC ranks.  Getting newcomers that would be good enough to come in and play in the defensive line two-deep could be huge factor in determining how good that 2004 team is, and JC players could provide the answer.  They might need to bring in even more than the four DLs projected here in 2004.   It would really go a long way on its own if two players among Joseph, Patton, Davis, Whittington and Sutherland were very able to contribute significantly by this time.  Looking around the entire roster, there really aren't any other candidates to move to DL, and particularly few to move to defensive tackle.  Possibly just-signed OL Nikola Dragovic as a DT.  Perhaps also William Snead, who is projected as strongside linebacker, bulks up enough to be a DE.


James Jessen is a walk on who has good quickness and agility at defensive end.  Last season the coaches believed he'd have a chance, down the line, to possibly contribute and earn a scholarship. Pretty thin at 6-4 and 225, he'll have to bulk up and get stronger.




It's a testament to how young and talented the Bruins are if you figure that UCLA will only have to replace one starter over the course of two years at linebacker and lose only two players. 


Projected 2003 Depth Chart:


SSLB:  Brandon Chillar (SR), Tim Warfield (JR), Xavier Burgess (R-FR), William Snead (FR)

MLB:  Justin London (SO), Patrick Pierre-Louis (JR)

WSLB:  Spencer Havner (SO), Wesley Walker (SO) Dennis Link (SR)


Returning two starters, though, and plugging in one of the most promising young defensive players UCLA has seen in the last several years at middle linebacker in London, gives you confidence with the starters.  The depth, though, is a little thin for next season.  Warfield has had limited success as a backup at SAM.  Burgess will be expected to step up and compete for the #1 spot there.  Pierre-Louis looked very good last season in practice before his injury made him sit out the year.  Looking at it retroactively, it was a good thing for the program, actually, since his presence for the next two years is really needed.  He's expected to play at MLB and weakside.  Walker is a player to really watch. His improvement last year was noticeable, and he keeps getting bigger and bigger. He will be expected to get a lot of time as a backup next season, and could flip over to the strongside position in 2004.  Link is better suited to providing depth at weakside than middle, but could still play both. 


It's also a possibility that redshirt freshman safety Eric McNeal could get his name added to the linebacker depth chart list.  Reports are he's up to about 215 pounds and looking huge, at about 6-3. His quickness and pursuing ability would be a great asset on the weakside. 


Snead will almost certain redshirt. It seems that UCLA could have been well-served by bringing in another linebacker prospect this season to provide better depth down the line. 


Projected 2004 Depth Chart:


SSLB:   Wesley Walker (JR), Tim Warfield (SR), Xavier Burgess (SO), William Snead (R-FR)

MLB: Justin London (JR), Patrick Pierre-Louis (SR), FR LB

WSLB: Spencer Havner (JR), FR LB, FR LB


The talent of the potential starters is impressive. It's almost too much to conceive of Spencer Havner as a junior – and how good he could be.  With Havner, London, Walker, Pierre-Louis and at least one among Burgess and Snead being contributors, UCLA has a core of at least five linebackers for 2004  that's already in the program – and that's not even considering any talent UCLA could bring in that fall.  Also, it's very possible that other players get moved here – as we said, possibly McNeal – as well as maybe others.




It's perhaps the deepest unit on the team over the next two years and potentially a dominating one.


Projected 2003 Depth Chart:


CB: Matt Ware (JR), Glenn Ohaeri (SO), Joe Garcia (R- FR), Trey Brown (FR), Milvon James (FR)

SS: Jarrad Page (SO), JIbril Raymo (JR), Eric McNeal (R-FR)

FS: Ben Emanuel (JR), Kevin Brant (SR), Dennis Keyes  (FR), Chris Horton (FR)

CB:  Matt Clark (JR), Marcus Cassel (SO), Keith Short (SR), Jebiaus Brown (R-FR)


The team returns three starters.  Admittedly, there is a whole to fill by trying to replace Ricky Manning, but with Ware, Page, Emanuel and Raymo all a year better, it improves the quality of the defensive backfield enough so that there isn't as much pressure on the new starting cornerback. The odds-on favorite to win the position is Matt Clark. But by no means count out Glenn Ohaeri, Marcus Cassel or Jebiaus Brown.  Ohaeri was good enough to play last year as a true freshman, Cassell played some and looked good in practice, and Jebiaus Brown got very good reviews in practice. 


While the big question is who will be that other starting cornerback, there aren't too many other questions.  In the two-deep it is unknown who will garner those backup spots at cornerback. At safety, Raymo looks to back up either the strong safety or free safety position, but it will be interesting to see how McNeal fares in spring practice. Also, Keyes is talented enough to compete for a two-deep spot as a true freshman.  Trey Brown, James and Horton will almost certainly redshirt.


Projected 2004 Depth Chart:


CB: Matt Ware (SR), Glenn Ohaeri (JR), Joe Garcia (SO), Trey Brown (R-FR), Milvon James (R-FR)

SS: Jarrad Page (JR), Jibril Raymo (SR), Eric McNeal (SO), FR S

FS: Ben Emanuel (SR), Dennis Keyes  (SO/R-FR), Chris Horton (R-FR)

CB:  Matt Clark (SR), Marcus Cassel (JR), Jebiaus Brown (SO), FR CB


Astoundingly, the depth chart barely changes, and not significantly, losing Brant and Short to graduation.  The starting four will be returning intact from 2003. In fact, probably UCLA's top 7 defensive backs will return.  It's exciting to think what this unit will be like being together two years and Ware, Emanuel, Raymo and Clark as seniors, and Page, and Ohaeri as juniors.  If Cassel, McNeal or Jebiaus Brown, say, have stepped up and become players by this time, it's a plethora of riches. 


UCLA will probably want to bring in two defensive backs – a safety and a cornerback, just to keep the defensive backfield stocked and deep.


Offensive analysis is next...

Bruin Report Online Top Stories