UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview: Running Backs (cont.)
Jalen Starks was brought in as a fullback to help evolve the power/pro-style run game under Jim Mora. That never happened, but Starks did prove to be a handful for defenders. Starks is a decent ball carrier and, similar to Olorunfunmi, he can put a hit on defends trying to stop him. He is not exceptionally fast, but he can help the Bruins in short-yardage or goal-line situations. They same goes for Gentosi, though he only showed up for a few plays last season.
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Felton is going to be a player to watch because he was brought into UCLA as a. receiver, but was used as a ball carrier ten times for 75 yards (and one touchdown) last year. It was not so much that he was able to get open, but how he could move behind the line to get those extra yards. Part of that has to do with his footwork and vision, which would be perfect project for Kelly to work on.
Joshua Kelly came out of no where last spring. With the coaches trying to find the perfect fit for their run game, they went deep into their roster and often put Kelly, a UC Davis transfer, into first and second strong practice situations. He is fast and shifty, but was a step behind the other running backs. After a year in the program and development from Coach Kelly, Joshua Kelly could possibly find a role with the run game in 2018.
There is plenty of talent for (Coach) Kelly to use and he is only getting started. On signing day, UCLA brought in two running backs that are typical of what Kelly wants to run his offense. Kazmeir Allen and Martell Irby are flat out fast, something the Bruins have missed for several seasons. Though they will be needed in the future, I don’t expect them to be out on the field right away in 2018 (although with Kelly, anything can happen), especially with at least five experienced backs ahead of them.
Don’t expect a starter to be named at the end of spring. What you should expect is to see several of these Bruins out on the field owning specific roles in a number of different schemes. It will be a process, but a fun one to watch on the way to next season.