Spring Review: Offensive Line

Caleb Benenoch

The loss of Torian White was a big blow, but UCLA did its best to weather the storm in spring thanks to the transformations of Caleb Benenoch, Kenny Lacy, and more...

The story of the early part of camp was the loss of Torian White and how it would affect the team. In losing White, UCLA lost likely its best NFL prospect from the unit and its starting left tackle. A unit that was already thin with Conor McDermott and Simon Goines sitting out the entirety of spring got even thinner.

In a testament to the talent that Adrian Klemm has been able to bring in and develop over the last three years, though, it was obvious before the first week of camp was over that UCLA had talented bodies to take over for the departed and injured tackles. Caleb Benenoch underwent a massive physical transformation in the offseason that left him trimmer and lighter on his feet, making his transition to left tackle that much easier. Before you might have said he had a guard's body, but now he looks and moves much more like a tackle. Benenoch probably had the best camp of any offensive lineman, and despite a knee injury that limited him toward the end, seemed to sew up the starting left tackle job before the first half of camp was over.

Kenny Lacy also underwent a physical transformation, going from a bit of a doughy freshman to a versatile athlete with the ability to play both guard and tackle. He still needs to get a bit stronger and work on his technique, but the ability is there, and given how much he improved over the last four months, another four months of improvement could leave him in line for a starting job in the fall — at either right tackle or right guard.

Malcolm Bunche, the graduate transfer from Miami, arrived in the second week of camp and looked like he certainly had the physicality and technique to play at tackle and on the interior. If there's a concern with him, it's that his conditioning was not what it needed to be, and he struggled to make it through practices, even toward the end of camp. At right tackle, his feet looked stuck in cement at times, but that may have been due to the conditioning. From what we saw of him in camp, we'd probably say he's a better fit at guard, but we could see him playing either role.

Poasi Moala, who many think is a potential NFL player, had an up and down spring. In the early going, he looked like a shoe-in to start at right tackle, but he hit a bit of a wall through the last three weeks, and seemed like he got worn down. He's about 280 pounds now, and could probably stand to gain another 10 or so by the time the season comes around. He had a nice spring game against Kylie Fitts, and it seemed in the last week or so that he started to regain a bit of his stamina and energy from the first week. If either he or Lacy make a leap in the next four months, one or both could contend for the starting right tackle job, which might give UCLA it's ideal lineup.

One player not to be discounted is Najee Toran. The freshman plays with a great deal of energy and fire, and it wasn't a rare occurrence where he'd block a defensive lineman several yards downfield and then drive them into the ground. He's what coaches are talking about when they refer to "mean streak." He is a bit undersized, at about 6'2, 280, and probably is a more ideal fit, physically, at center, but if he can gain a bit of weight over the next four months, he could be another option at the open guard position.

Redmond looked better physically from what we saw of him, but he really didn't participate much in practice, only working in during non-contact periods. Just physically, though, he looked a bit trimmer, which should speak to an increased level of mobility.

From what we've heard, the ideal world scenario is still that Simon Goines and Scott Quessenberry would both be able to redshirt, but we'll say it's unlikely, given the depth, that both will be able to. Quessenberry would probably be our pick of the two that might have to play, because between Lacy, Moala, Bunche, Benenoch, and McDermott, the Bruins probably have enough guys who can play tackle, but there's a bit more of a crunch at guard. Much can change, though, and if Goines is completely, 100% healthy in San Bernardino, then he'd obviously be a favorite to win a starting job.

Our Best Guess Two-Deep For San Bernardino

Left Tackle
Caleb Benenoch
McDermott

Left Guard
Malcolm Bunche
Najee Toran

Center
Jake Brendel
Scott Quessenberry

Right Guard
Alex Redmond
Ben Wysocki

Right Tackle
Kenny Lacy OR
Poasi Moala OR
Conor McDermott OR

Our Wild, Really Ill-Advised Guess for Who Starts Against Virginia

LT: Benenoch
LG: Bunche
C: Brendel
RG: Redmond
RT: McDermott

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