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April 23, 2012

Monday's Mail

Editor's note: Every Monday BSR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Bruins in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisBSR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on BSR's Facebook page.

Illegelpat: Do you think a starter at QB will emerge in the spring practice?

An easy one to start off with. Can answer this one for you in one word: nope. I think it'd be foolish and rushed at this point, to be honest, to name a starter by the end of this camp. Unless somebody somehow miraculously breaks away, this competition should go well into August.

I think the coaching staff is really pushing for Kevin Prince to be the starter, but of the three in the mix for the position, I'd actually put him in third place performance-wise this spring. I think the coaching staff would also really like to see Brett Hundley take the wheel, but his lows are too low right now to trust with this high-powered offense. Then that leaves you with Richard Brehaut, who I'm not sure the coaching staff was too happy with to begin the spring because of his baseball commitments, but he's probably played the best of them all. While his ceiling isn't very high, his floor is nowhere near as low as the rest of the quarterbacks. If they're going to name anybody the starter by the end of this spring, it should be Brehaut or nobody.


Mike: You've mentioned before that most of UCLA's position changes have worked this spring. But what about the ones that haven't? Who needs to move?

I think this answer has to start with Anthony Barr. Yes, I know he's been hurt the past few weeks with a hamstring injury and really hasn't had the opportunity to play, but he just plays way too high to be an outside linebacker. He's already tall at 6 feet 5, and the way he plays makes him look more like 6 feet 8. To me, he has "Y receiver" written all over him. We know he can catch, as he's played on the offensive side of the ball throughout his life. We know he's athletic - just watch some tape of him as a running back. And at 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, potentially teamed up with 6-foot-7, 260-pound Joseph Fauria, he'd make a killing in the redzone.

As for other players, I think Dalton Hilliard will probably end up having to move back to safety. I know, he's been one of the best stories of camp so far and has made some ridiculous runs. But UCLA is absolutely stacked at running back, with a depth chart (in no particular order) looking like this: Johnathan Franklin, Malcolm Jones, Steven Manfro, Damien Thigpen and Jordon James. Meanwhile, over at safety, after all of the injuries, the depth chart (for both spots) currently looks like this: Stan McKay, Tevin McDonald and Anthony Thompson. So while I think Hilliard is probably a better back than he is a safety, not too sure UCLA can afford to keep him in the offensive backfield, especially if some of the 2012 class isn't ready to step in yet.

Finally, I know some people have been calling for Malcolm Jones to slide to linebacker, but I don't really see that happening. When he's not running well, it's for no other reason than physicality and conditioning. Those are the two biggest components of being a linebacker. I don't think that's necessarily a good fit for him. The rest of the team should probably stay where they're currently at as well.


SouthOCPsyD: Do you think Devin Fuller has any chance to seriously enter into this year's QB competition? What position do you see Fuller ultimately playing at UCLA?

Don't think he has any chance whatsoever of being the starting QB this year, if that's what you're asking. Maybe, and this is a huge maybe, I can see them giving him a Wildcat package or something this year, but I don't see any way he transitions to this team and offense right away while senior leaders Brehaut and Prince are having this many issues getting it all down. To me, he actually plays very similar to Dalton Hilliard. They have a similar body type, similar burst, similar skillset. So with that being said, I think Fuller is probably more of a running back or safety. But I really need to see him in person in August to make this one concrete.


Stephen L.: It's now been three weeks and a bunch of practices. Who are going to be the playmakers on this team?

That's the thing that I don't understand about this program yet. Literally, at every single position, there is an impact player, and yet these teams have a propensity to underachieve. But stepping off my soapbox here, the biggest playmaker on offense should be Devin Lucien. I've covered a bunch of NFL wideouts over at San Diego State (Vincent Brown, DeMarco Sampson, Roberto Wallace, Darren Mougey, etc.) and Lucien is as good or better than any of them, and he's just a redshirt freshman. The body control he has, the hands he has, the routes he runs, the fluidness of his hips, he has the total package to be dominant.

Another offensive guy I really like is Fauria. I know we only got to see him for two practices before he left with a hamstring injury, but he was uncoverable in those practices. He's huge, quick, has good hands and has solid chemistry with his quarterbacks. Could easily be an All-Pac-12 first teamer this year.

Defensively, Eric Kendricks has been playing out of his mind of late. Had three interceptions last week and consistently makes tackles for loss. He'll be a staple inside this year. Finally, you have to love what Sheldon Price brings. I can see how he won't rack up big interception totals this year, because I wouldn't throw at him, but he's been great, especially with Demetrice Martin and Lou Spanos allowing him to press receivers and be physical.


Bruinmanny: Do we still look good for the three kids from Fresno: Johnny Johnson, Hatari Byrd, and L.J. Moore?

You have to include Tee Shepard in that Fresno kid mix, right? But yes, I think it's looking really good for UCLA on that front. Moore was just at practice on Saturday and earned some one-on-one time with Martin, who is one of the best recruiters in the nation. Johnson, Byrd and Shepard also all visited recently this month, and are also really interested in UCLA. Of course, it's only April, and there's a whole summer left, but at this point in the game, the Bruins are looking good.

Check out more answers to your UCLA questions on Bruin Tracks!



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