UCLA Football’s 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading Into 2014
UCLA Football's 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading into 2014
Jim Mora has been adamant on getting the UCLA Bruins to consistently be a top-10 team, and he has truly changed the culture and expectations around Bruins football. He has a great coaching staff that has had little turn over the past couple of years since Mora’s arrival. There is plenty of NFL experience that has surely helped in turning around the program.
Mora and his staff have done a great job of stockpiling talent for the Bruins. They have managed several very impressive recruiting hauls, and Mora loves giving freshmen a chance to play. These freshmen have sometimes been thrown into the line of fire, but the experience that comes with it will only help them in the future. Because of this, the Bruins finally will head into the season with plenty of depth at key positions.
With a more favorable schedule, including home games against Pac-12 powerhouses Oregon and Stanford, the Bruins will be early favorites to win the Pac-12 South. While the Bruins lose several star players from last year’s team, including All-American Anthony Barr, there is plenty of talent to step up and fill those vacancies. Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley returns to lead a high-scoring offense that loves to spread the ball around. On the defensive side, the Bruins are young but extremely talented, and should have several breakout stars in the upcoming season.
Here are five intriguing players who will likely be given the opportunity to step up and become the stars that the Bruins need to get to the next level.
5. Devin Lucien
Devin Lucien is a six-foot wide receiver for the Bruins who has shown plenty of potential the past two years. He has the rare ability to go up and pluck a ball away from a defender on a poorly thrown pass. He is one of the few gamebreakers on this Bruins team, and will surely get the opportunity for playing time with Shaquelle Evans gone. His key this year will be to play with consistency, but the sky's the limit for this talented wide receiver.
4. Owamagbe Odighizuwa
Owamagbe Odighizuwa finally seemed to be find his position at defensive end in the Bruins’ 3-4 scheme. Injuries kept him out all of last year, but he returns as the experienced leader on a young but talented defensive line. Odighizuwa is extremely strong at the point of attack, but still maintains the quickness to get into the backfield and make plays. The Bruins will count on him to provide leadership, and do not be surprised if he ends up with some individual awards at the end of the year.
3. Ishmael Adams
Ishmael Adams was one of the top defensive backs on this Bruin roster last year. He plays much bigger than his height indicates, and is an underrated tackler. He is great against slot receivers, which is extremely important against all of the spread offenses in the Pac-12. He also showed speed and elusiveness in the return game, something the Bruins have not had since Maurice Jones-Drew was in town. With more touches, it is only a matter of time before he starts making teams pay for kicking him the ball.
2. Devin Fuller
Devin Fuller came to UCLA as a quarterback prospect, but permanently made the switch to wide receiver last year as a result of Hundley’s emergence as a star quarterback. However, Fuller fits perfectly in the slot with Noel Mazzone's spread out attack. He has improved his route running and is one of the more elusive players on the offensive side of the ball. He has the ability to take end arounds for long gains, and his speed makes it difficult for linebackers to cover him. This year, he will get more touches and more opportunities to showcase his talent.
1. Myles Jack
Myles Jack was the Offensive and Defensive Freshman of Year last season in the Pac-12. He has the speed to cover running backs and the power to be a goal-line threat. This year, the Bruins will likely look for him to play mostly at linebacker, especially without Barr. Jack will be asked to do a lot on defense, but he looks primed to blossom into a star this upcoming year.
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