Go Joe Bruin takes a look at who will be the breakout UCLA Football player for each position group in 2019.
Though the 2018 season didn’t go as planned, we did see a lot of good things from several UCLA football players, especially when it comes to their potential.
The Bruins definitely have superstars at some key spots, but they also have so up-and-comers. Go Joe Bruin looks at players from each position group that we believe will have breakout seasons.
Quarterbacks – Dorian Thompson-Robinson (So)
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It’s pretty much assured that DTR is going to get the starting job, but many wonder how will he do this season. Last year, he was thrusted into the starting position two quarters into the season after Wilton Speight got injured. Then, Thompson-Robinson suffered his own injuries, keeping him from playing the entire season. But with one year under his belt, taking in the knowledge from Speight and improving on some of his weaknesses in the off-season, DTR should definitely have one of the biggest breakout seasons on the team.
Running Backs – Kazmeir Allen (So)
We all know Joshua Kelley is going to be at the top of the depth chart, but the Bruins have a ton of running backs they can utilize behind him. Though I expected Allen to have a better season than he did in 2018, I believe we will see more of him this season. He has too much speed and talent to be contained and will be able to move better behind an O-line that is continually improving.
Tight End – Devin Asiasi (R-Jr)
It is going to be quite the task replacing Caleb Wilson but Asiasi has the ability to pick up where the now Arizona Cardinal left off. He did not play nearly as much as Wilson, but Asiasi had flashes of greatness. In 2019, we will see a lot more of that as he becomes the big target for DTR.
Wide Receiver – Chase Cota (So)
Cota was another one of many freshman that got a lot of playing time last year and looking at how he progressed, he is sure to get a lot more minutes this season. Cota is fast, smart and has great hands, which will help him to take on a bigger role which will result in him breaking out during his sophomore campaign.
Offensive Line – Chris Murray (So)
The offensive line is quite possibly the most improved position group from last year and that was because OL coach (and now offensive coordinator) Justin Frye did one hell of a job bringing the best out of these Bruins. This was actually a hard one to choose because several linemen made such vast improvements, but having true freshman Chris Murray do so well in his first season while adjusting the changes of the line is going to set him up for a fantastic sophomore season.
Defensive Line – Atonio Mafi (So)/Otito Ogbonnia (So)
Both defenseive linemen were thrown into the fray early in their true freshman season and despite having stumbled a few times, overall they were pretty impressive in the trenches. Both showed progress as the season went on, which is why I couldn’t pick just one to have a breakout season. Both of these big guys are going to make a statement in 2019 and I hope offensive lines are prepared or they will get steamrolled.
Linebackers – Tyree Thompson (R-Sr)
Last season was Thompson’s first with the program after coming in as a JUCO transfer. He was used quite a bit last season, not only to fill-in for injured players, because he really took to the defense and quickly adapted. This past spring game, he was one of the highlights of the defense that limited the offenses to zero touchdowns. in essence, he is going to be a linebacker to be feared,
Defensive Backs – Stephen Blaylock (So)
Blaylock is a beast and the only reason we haven’t seen more of him because the secondary has been so deep and so strong the last several years, but he has shown that he has a skill to claim a starting spot and possibly be one of the more active defenders on the team.