UCLA Football: 2018 depth chart projections – Special Teams


Go Joe Bruin begins the 2018 depth chart projections with a look at the Special Teams, one of the position groups that should excel this coming season.

With the 2018 season right around the corner, Go Joe Bruin begins our UCLA football depth chart projections.

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Though we usually begin with the offense, we will start with special teams for two reasons: (1) when we finally get to the quarterback depth charts, we will have a better picture of who is #1, #2 and so on in the QB Battle Royale and (2) we want to point out early that special teams should be one of the most consistent and reliable groups heading into the new season.

So without further ado, here are our (projected) 2018 specialists:


  1. JJ Molson, 6-1, 185, Jr.
  2. Andrew Straunch, 6-0, 180, R-Jr.
  3. Crawford Pierson, 5-10, 170, R-So.
  4. Quentin Wallace, 5-9, 180, Fr.

Three years ago when Jim Mora landed the top kicker, punter and long snapper in the 2016 recruiting class, it was expected that they would need time to grow, but they had talent nonetheless. Three years later (except for the punter), UCLA will present three solid players on special teams.

JJ Molson had a solid kicking game last year and because of that was recognized for his efforts as he was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list last week. Last season he hit 17/21 field goals and was one of the top point scorers in the Pac-12. The thing is, those numbers might go down in 2018. Chip Kelly wants to utilize all of his offensive tools and tries to not rely on field goals to get points. Either way, if Molson is needed, he will be ready when called upon.

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  1. Stefan Flintoft, 6-2, 191, R-Sr.
  2. Collin Flintoft, 6-1, 185, Fr.

One of the three specialists from that 2016 class is gone. Austin Kent was unfortunately underperforming and was replaced by a more consistent walk-on, Stefan Flintoft, who also made a preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award.

Flintoft was surprisingly consistent and quite possibly one of the best punters UCLA has had in several seasons. He averaged 42.9 yards per punt, had a long of 65 and pinned 21 punts inside the 20-yard line. Though he will most likely take all the punts this season, he will guide his cousin Collin Flintoft in the punting game. The younger Flintoft committed a few weeks ago and is coming in as a walk-on. That bodes well for the future.

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Long Snapper

  1. Johnny Den Bleyker, 5-11, 208, Jr.
  2. Koby Walsh, 5-10, 200, R-So.
  3. Alex Michaelsen, 5-11, 200, R-Fr.

JDB has been consistent as UCLA’s long snapper for the last two years and will continue that in 2018, helping special teams to stay reliable and productive in the field position game. Den Bleyker is also the third specialist to be named to a preseason watch list as he was listed on the David Binn Award.

Kick Returns

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  1. Darnay Holmes, 5-10, 185, So.
  2. Demetric Felton, 5-10, 185, R-So.
  3. Damian Alloway, 5-10, 185, R-So.

With the new coaching staff, we could see several new players try out for returns, though we do expect Darnay Holmes to pick up where he left off. He was recently named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list as one of the most versatile players in the nation.

That is not just because he is a solid defender, but because he was excellent in kick returns. He took the majority in 2018 with 33, averaging 21.7 yards and added a 65-yard return as his long for the season.

Behind him, we could see Felton and Alloway who made appearances in the spring but with a lot of speedy freshmen entering fall camp, who knows which Bruins will help out behind Holmes.

Punt Returns

  1. Adarius Pickett, 6-0, 195, R-Jr.
  2. Theo Howard, 6-0, 185, Jr.

With Holmes on kick returns, Adarius Pickett led the Bruins in punt returns. Though he only had 10 for the season, averaging 7.3 yards, it did not make a big impact. One thing we hope new Special Teams coach Roy Manning can produce is not only more yards, but a touchdown on returns. Something UCLA failed to achieve last season.

Next. UCLA Football: 10 bold predictions for the 2018 season. dark

Though this group of players has a lot of experience, there is also room to grow and with the new coaches in place (coaches that are looking to be more aggressive), hopefully, we see a very exciting transition game this fall.