UCLA Football: What To Expect From The Bruins’ Wide Receivers in 2013

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Shaquelle Evans, Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With eight spring practices in the books, the UCLA football team is making headway towards another successful season in 2013. There’s plenty of reason for optimism, from the growth of stud QB Brett Hundley to the potential dominance of the front seven, but one positional group getting overlooked is the wide receivers.

Even though the Bruins don’t boast a big name like Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee on the roster, there is enough talented depth for an impressive season of pass-catching. The obvious No. 1 option is Shaq Evans, a rising redshirt senior who led the team in receiving last year, but the weapons at Hundley’s disposal are numerous.

After Evans, UCLA could turn to standout redshirt sophomore Devin Lucien, who was off to a great start in 2012 before busting his collarbone in Week 5. Then there’s the trio of elite 2012 recruits, which includes converted-QB Devin Fuller, Jordan Payton and Kenneth Walker. Throw in 4-star early-enrollee Eldridge Massington for good measure and you get a core of receivers capable of doing serious damage next year.

Considering offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone frequently runs sets with three or more WRs, it’s conceivable that Evans, Lucien and one of the youngsters will line up together. Talk about some high-flying firepower. If the Bruins can find a reliable threat in the running game, that would keep defenses from cheating against the pass, subsequently opening things up for the myriad of playmakers out wide. Honestly, the RB battle will determine just how far this group of receivers can go.

The one glaring uncertainty in the passing game is who’ll step up as the scorer. Last season, Joe Fauria hauled in 12 TDs from the Y position, while no other Bruin recorded more than three. Big Joe was Hundley’s go-to guy in the red zone, and Jim Mora will need to find a replacement there. One possible candidate is incoming freshman Thomas Duarte, a 6’3″, 225-pound TE out of Mater Dei. If the 4-star signee can play up to his potential, it would be a huge weight off the wideouts’ shoulders.

As the intensity ramps up in anticipation for the annual Spring Game at the Rose Bowl, it’ll be exciting to see how the receiving corps develops. There really is enough talent for UCLA to have one of the top aerial attacks in the country. It’s just a matter of bringing it all together—the offensive line has to protect, the WRs need to run clean routes and Hundley must make quick reads. If everything falls into place for the Bruins, look out Pac-12.