Last week, the newest arrivals to several Bruin sports moved in to the UCLA dorms and started college life, including UCLA Football. The newest Bruins to commit to UCLA were part of one of the most talented recruiting classes head coach Jim Mora has assembled since he arrived in Westwood, which is good for the future, but could also be good for this season.
You see, Mora is no stranger to playing freshmen. If they have the talent, the work ethic and can handle their own on the field, then they will play. We have seen that the last few years as Myles Jack, Kenny Young, Caleb Benenoch, Eddie Vanderdoes and Jaleel Wadood, to name a few, all saw plenty of time on the field as true freshmen.
So who are some of the new bloods that could come in this season and do big things for the Bruins?
First off, Josh Rosen is not on this list, mostly because everyone, including us here at GJB expect him to take the starting snap on September 5 against Virginia. So instead we looked at five players you might or might not know about…
5. Soso Jamabo
Feb 4, 2015; Plano, TX, USA; SoSo Jamabo talks to the media after announcing he will be attending UCLA at a press conference at Plano West High School. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Now I know what you are thinking, “UCLA already has a starter, the Pac-12 leading rusher Paul Perkins!” That is true and I completely agree. The #1 running back spot is Perkins’ until someone takes it away, or until he graduates. But this list is about players that could start for UCLA.
The thing about Jamabo is that he is a big, elusive and fast. I cannot remember a Bruin freshman running back that has such raw skills entering his first year. Though he may not dethrone Perkins, given his development over the summer, he could definitely move up the depth chart pastNate Starks
4. Stephen Johnson III
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Johnson is an incredible specimen. Like Jamabo, he has an extraordinary set of skills. He is quick, cunning and can turn on the afterburners when needed. Johnson is an athlete that UCLA has not really had in their arsenal in the last several years. Though Johnson played quarterback and cornerback in high school, he will most likely play wide receiver with the Bruins, as GJB writer Michael Hanna points out.
Though the Bruins have depth at wide receiver, there is a chance that Johnson could see some playing time and possibly start this fall. Though it is yet to be seen what type of receiver he will be, look for Johnson to contribute in 2015.
3. DeChaun Holiday
The Bruins have a plethora of defensive backs and got even deeper with six DBs signing their National Letter of Intent to play with UCLA earlier this year. Though it will be a battle to make it to a starting spot, or even a back-up spot, Holiday looks like he has the most talent to do so.
Holiday is fantastic in coverage, can read an offense quite well and has the strength and quickness to catch his opponents and lay down the big hit. What more can you ask in a freshman cornerback?
2. Chris Clark
Here is the situation with Chris Clark, he is a damn good tight end. Though the UCLA football team already has tight end/y-receiver in Thomas Duarte, Clark fits the mold of a more traditional TE. Though Duarte will continue to succeed in his position this fall, do not count out Clark to make a few appearances and maybe even start.
Clark is the first true TE UCLA football has had since Joseph Fauria. He is big, he can block off the line and even has the hands to catch the ball in space. Because of this and the wrinkles offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone throws into his offense, it is conceivable to think Duarte and Clark can be on the field at the same time. Though Clark has the goods to start, expect him to use this next season to get comfortable with the offense.
1. Keisean Lucier-South
There are a lot of great athletes joining UCLA football, but one that most Bruin football defensive fans are excited about is Keisean Lucier-South. Simply, this guy is a beast. Last season, the Bruins had some trouble getting a pass rusher off the line. Though they improved with the emergence of Takkarist McKinley and Deon Hollins, there was a need to recruit a pure pass-rusher.
Lucier-South is that guy. He can get in between the gaps, he is quick off the line, he disrupts plays and is very fast. The Bruins have several good linebackers on the roster, but it looks like only Jack and Hollins have solidified a spot in the Bruin’s 3-4 defense, which means Lucier-South could very well steal one of the two remaining spots with the LBs.