2015 Projected Depth Analysis: O-Line

Caleb Benenoch

There are few units on the team that should be as talented and deep as the offensive line in 2015, which is a particularly big statement considering how far they will have come...

With spring practice over, we now have a much clearer picture of what UCLA's talent and depth looks like across the board. On the surface, and through most of the starting positions, UCLA is fairly set through 2015 with high-level talent at most positions. More specifically, though, we've identified a few issues based off what we saw through April that could require adjustments to the recruiting strategy for the 2015 class and beyond.

We already covered the defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line, quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs over the last month. Now, we'll turn our attention to the final unit in the series, the offensive line, which should be very good by 2015.

Projected Depth Analysis: Offensive Line

So, we've gone through every other unit on the team, and, although we nitpicked a few areas, the general rule has been that UCLA will be deeper and more talented in 2015 than the Bruins have been at virtually any other point in this millennium.

Nowhere is this more apparent and obvious than along the offensive line, particularly in the starting group.

In 2015, UCLA will have a fourth-year starter at center in Jake Brendel, a third-year starter at left tackle in Caleb Benenoch, a third-year starter at right guard in Alex Redmond, and either a fourth-year or third-year starter at right tackle in Simon Goines. Each of those players would have likely been UCLA's best offensive lineman during the lean years, and in 2015, UCLA will be starting an experienced version of each. That kind of seasoned talent is something the Bruins haven't had in quite some time.

Then, not even counting the true freshmen who could jump on this year, UCLA's depth is fairly good as well. At tackle, UCLA has Poasi Moala, Conor McDermott, Kolton Miller, and Kenny Lacy, all of whom you could see providing, at the very least, reasonable depth (or, for that matter, Colby Cyburt, but we're not sure if his health will allow him to get back to that level during his UCLA career). At guard, UCLA is perhaps a bit thinner, but still, UCLA has Lacy, Najee Toran, John Lopez, Ben Wysocki, and Carl Hulick, with Scott Quessenberry able to flip between the interior line positions. And, again, this is without counting any true freshmen coming in with the 2015 class.

Jake Brendel.
So, for the first time in a long time, UCLA should have very good starters, with talent and experience, in addition to a talented backup or two at every position on the line. All of this comes with heavy knocking on wood, since the Bruins have had a history of severe attrition along the offensive line, but even perhaps accounting for some of that, the depth should give UCLA its best line in quite some time.

That said, in looking at the group, if we had to peg one area where the Bruins could afford to upgrade this recruiting class, it'd be the overall athleticism of the unit, particularly at guard. Right now, in looking at who projects best to start at left guard in 2015, it's hard to find an option that is even an approximation of what Xavier Su'a-Filo brought to the table. While we'd have to assume the scheme will change some to accommodate different talent, the offense never really ran better than when Su'a-Filo was pulling downfield ahead of Johnathan Franklin. Getting a guard with that kind of dynamic athleticism (essentially, slotting a guy with tackle-type athleticism into a guard role) could be one of the keys to getting Noel Mazzone's offense to run at its optimum efficiency.

On the roster right now, you have to project that Redmond will start in 2015, and he brings a great deal of toughness, strength, and tenacity to the table. Pulling downfield, however, will likely never be his strong suit. At left guard, Lacy might have the best chance of being that athletic type at guard, but we'd have to see more of him actually playing the position, since he spent most of this spring at tackle. He is an athlete, though, so that might make the most sense. UCLA has been very clear that Poasi Moala is a tackle, but he, too, could provide some of that athleticism at the guard spot, even though he might not have the traditional frame of a guard.

Whatever the case, like we said, it's a small nitpick. Even if UCLA doesn't have the dynamic athlete at left guard and instead starts, say, Mean Najee Toran (which will henceforth be his official name on Scout), UCLA should have a very good starting offensive line. The offense may look somewhat different than it did through the first two years of the Mora era, but this staff has shown a propensity for adapting schemes to suit talent, which has been refreshing. Also, the No. 1 job of the offensive line that year will be protecting a first-year starter at quarterback in, likely, either Josh Rosen or Asiantii Woulard, and we'd have to say that with the amount of experience the unit will have by that point, they should be able to do that job very well.

The offensive line as early as this year could be one of the stronger units on the team, and by 2015, if health holds, it could easily be a competition between the defensive line and offensive line as to which is the most talented and deep unit on the team. Imagine that four years ago.

Projected 2015 Offensive Line (with no 2015 freshmen)

Left Tackle
Caleb Benenoch JR
Poasi Moala RS SO
Kolton Miller RS FR

Left Guard
Kenny Lacy RS SO
Najee Toran SO
Carl Hulick RS JR
Sam Tai RS SR

Center
Jake Brendel RS SR
Scott Quessenberry RS SO

Right Guard
Alex Redmond JR
John Lopez RS SO
Ben Wysocki RS SR

Right Tackle
Simon Goines SR
Conor McDermott RS JR
Colby Cyburt RS JR

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