By Michael Briggs @MichaelSBriggs on July 31, 2014
Last season, Myles Jack entered campus as a freshman and left a Pac-12 star. While it's rare to see a true freshman make that kind of jump, Jack proved a player can go from relatively unknown to a household name in just a few weeks. Jack returns to the Bruins in 2014 as a star among stars, but there are other UCLA players with impact potential that may not already be on your radar. Here are five breakout candidates.
A natural pass-catching tight end, Thomas Duarte is certainly not an unknown commodity but is, nevertheless, primed for a big season for UCLA with Brett Hundley under center. A Mackey Award list selection, the sophomore did not have more than three receptions in any one game, but appeared in all thirteen and tied the UCLA freshman record with three receiving touchdowns. Expect the 6-foot-3, 221-pound player to grab a few more than that this year.
Like Duarte, Clark appeared in every game as a freshman last season, even getting starting nods for the final two games against USC and Virginia Tech. Although he has to contend with Ellis McCarthy for the starting nose tackle spot, the 6-foot-3, 315-pound sophomore is too big and talented to keep off the field after totaling 31 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and one sack last year.
The fifth-year senior safety has the chance to have a monster season leading a great Bruins defensive backfield — which is saying something, considering he racked up 89 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2013. A former corner, Jefferson allows UCLA to take risks in man coverage and is equally adept at patrolling deep and playing up in the box. An All-Pac 12-season certainly isn't out of the question.
Perkins might not be the flashiest runner, but he got the job done for UCLA last season when the Bruins needed consistent yards following the injuries to Jordan James and Malcom Jones. In fact, the rising redshirt sophomore finished second only to backfield mate Brett Hundley with 573 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2013. Although other backs will get looks, Perkins' steady experience will be an undeniable factor in the Bruins offense.
The quick-twitch Adams led UCLA with four picks in 2013, but aside from being a candidate for All-Pac-12 honors at corner, the junior also provides a jolt in the kick return game after averaging 35 yards-per-return last season. The Bruins will likely play a 4-2-5 defense in 2014 under new coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who will rely on a deep secondary to limit the myriad talented Pac-12 passing attacks. Expect Adams to be all over the field.
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