The UCLA football team hauled in 16 players during the early signing period. GJB takes a look at five that could potentially start in 2019.
The UCLA football team brought in 16 new players last week for Early Signing Day. With every class, there are aces that have the talent to start from day one, but depth also plays into how soon a newbie gets on the field.
Because of recent developments, and those yet unforeseen, GJB takes a look at five of the newest Bruins that might be able to start at some point in 2019 based on talent and need.
OT Sean Rhyan, 6’5, 302
UCLA’s offensive line lost two key veterans in recent weeks (Andre James – declared, Justin Murphy – transfer), so the three linemen the Bruins were bring in we’re going to be a surplus. Well now they could get a lot minutes in their first year with the program, especially Sean Rhyan. Though it could be argued that despite the need for depth, Rhyan would have been in the running for a starting spot anyway. He is a strong, heady individual that should fit in nicely under OC Justin Frye’s tutelage.
CB Sharmar Martin, 5’11, 170
Nate Meadors is gone, so depth takes a hit. There were also a lot of new guys getting reps this past season, so experience will turnover, but they were still a work in progress. The Bruins did not have the best passing offense, so expect a proper competition for playing time come spring and fall camp. Though Martin might not start immediately, he will definitely push for playing time. His ability to stick to his defender and make plays will help him get on the field sooner than later.
OG Duke Clemens, 6’3, 268
As noted with Rhyan, the Bruins are a it thinner after two departures, so playing time will open up. With James gone, UCLA might need help at the end, which will call for bodies in the middle. Clemens’ size and strength will give a push for playing time, but it really depends on how quickly he develops. Luke he eventually get a start? Anything is possible with Chip Kelly, so I expect at least some key playing time.
LB John Ward, 6’3, 227
John Ward, “The Palmdale Pain Train” is quite the addition to the Bruins linebacking corps. Based on sheer need for bodies, Ward could see a lot of minutes next year. But what if he takes to the system faster than expected, could he take over for potential starters Josh Woods or Krys Barnes? Probably not, unless injuries become an issue. Still, Ward’s aggressiveness and vision will help him get onto the depth chart early, which is why he could eventually get a start.
DE Datona Jackson, 6’4. 265
The Bruins utilized a lot of youth up front last season. Though it will be good for experience, it is also good that the Bruins landed an already-experienced defensive end. Jackson is a JUCO transfer, so he already knows what will be expected of him.
UCLA has also lost their top edge rusher as Jaelan Phillips will transfer, so Jackson’s arrival came just in time. Jackson is a large human that has a knack for getting into the backfield.