A little debate

Heading into Saturday’s Spring Game, I wanted to start a debate going this week about UCLA’s most important players. I’ll list 20 guys, and we’ll pare it down to a list of 10 in a couiple days.

Who of these guys are the most crucial to UCLA’s success in 2010?

Kai Forbath, K – Returning Lou Groza winner
Kevin Prince, QB – Back with more weapons at his disposal
Jeff Baca, OL – Junior is here for third year on OL
Johnathan Franklin, RB – Trying to reclaim spot after fumbling issues
Malcolm Jones, RB – Gatorady National POY will fight for time immediately
Rahim Moore, S – Best safety in nation now a mouthpiece
Akeem Ayers, LB – Potential for huge things
David Carter, DT – Can he replace Price?
Nelson Rosario, WR – Expected to make a big leap, figurately and literally
Cory Harkey, TE – Can he hold off Fauria as primary tight end threat?
Sheldon Price, CB – Needs extra pounds to translate onto the field
Josh Smith, WR – Instant-impact transfer a boon to wideout corps, return game
Datone Jones, DE – Must add run-stuffing element to pass rush
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE – Highly touted recruit could get starting nod
Jeff Locke, P – Second-team all-conference nod will become first-team this year
Kai Maiava, C – Last few months have been tumultuous for rising junior
Mike Harris, OL – Can he solidify right tackle spot?
Nate Chandler, DT – Converted OL looks great at DT, but spot up for grabs
Steve Sloan, MLB – Can he hold off Patrick Larimore?
Sean Westgate, OLB – Can he hold off Glenn Love?

Vote for 10 players, and post your comments about where you have guys and why.

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  • Anonymous

    no debate needed. it is always the qb.

  • Anonymous

    You should have listed Larimore, Love and Holmes.

  • UndieRun03

    All starts with the offensive line, giving time for prince and opening holes for the running backs. If they are doing there job Prince and the RBs will be more successful. On the defensive side of ball its the D-Line, because we know Moore and Ayers are going to be great. Here’s my ten:
    Baca, Harris, Maiava,Prince, Franklin, Chandler, Jones, Carter, Smith, Sloan

  • so west Coast

    Top 10 Players crucial to UCLA’s success:

    Prince, Baca, Forbath, Franklin, M. Jones, D. Carter, Fauria, M. Harris, Chandler, and Locke.

    ****
    Prince/Baca/Forbath: pretty self-explanatory (need to step up as leaders in their respective units)

    Franklin, Malcom Jones: we need to establish a run game at some point in life

    D. Carter: got huge shoes to fill

    Fauria: big target that can be used in different ways

    M. Harris: much needed for qb protection and creating holes for the running game

    Chandler: along with Datone, we need him to step up big time and pressure the qb/stop the run-game

    Locke: worse comes to worst, if our offense is inept again, we need someone to pin the other team deep.

  • SD Bruin

    QB-Kevin Prince, hands down.
    We haven’t had a good season at QB since Drew Olsen, that was also the last year we had a better than average season.

  • Anonymous

    Of course KP is numero uno. If he produces consistently, but more importantly shows the grit and resourcefulness to pull out the close games, we will have a solid year. On D, we have 2 impact players returning in Rahim and Akeem. They will strike fear in opposing QBs and their OCs. I think you should add Love and Larimore to the mix b/c my feeling is they will win their position battles. Also, I would lump the whole offensive line together, b/c no one O-lineman can shoulder the burden of the entire group. I put Locke ahead of Forbath b/c field position is crucial in tight games, and he has the ability to keep opposing teams pinned in their own side of the field.

  • Bruintx

    Pretty surprised Aaron Hester didn’t even make the list!!

  • Mike H class of 90

    Starts with Oline (as a unit) and D core (line and LBs). If they come together, then it gives the chance for Prince and the running game to thrive. I included Malcolm Jones…so far no existing RB looks to have stepped up, so I’m hoping Jones has what it takes to step in and be something special. I think the D will be ok but will need some new faces to do well.

  • Charlie

    It has to be Kevin Prince. He has to find a way to stay healthy and grow from where he was last year. I don’t expect him to be one of the best QBs in the nation but he should finish as the best QB in the PAC 10.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Hester should be on list as well!

  • sandiegobruinfan

    Prince for obvious reasons…all indications are he has grabbed the offense by the throat and won’t be relenting anytime soon. Hopefully Brehaut can be redshirted so we can create some long term QB depth…presuming of course Prince can stay healthy and Crissman evolves into a halfway dependable backup QB.

    Kai Maiava needs to be the anchor of a line that has to not only give protection but give some sort of running game to keep a blitzing D honest.

    A healthy Josh Smith may be the home run hitter needed returning kicks, punts, and at the wideout…although TA was reliable and durable the last few years, we haven’t had a bonafide threat since MJD.

    Ayers and Moore are the big playmakers on D hands down but they’ll need to be solid every down tacklers as well.

    Chandler and Harris along with Jones will be pressed & tested early so they need to be ready to go right from the outset.

    Forbath, Locke & Special Teams…an underrated luxury is a high percentage field goal kicker and balls booted into & out of the endzone on kickoffs.

  • BBB

    Brehaut will be the most important player when Prince goes down.

  • Blue Bruin

    Prince is far and away the most important player. UCLA doesn’t have a good enough defense and running game to mask a mediocre or weak quarterback. Second, with the time Neuheisal and Chow are putting into QB development, the QB has to be the most important player every year. Again, this isn’t like Alabama or Ohio State…teams that will just outmuscle and outstrength the opponents and can rely on a QB to “manage the game.” Rather, UCLA needs a quarterback that is a true difference maker and play maker.

  • bbruin

    Prince is first then Maiva and Baca due to versatility. After this the 2 DT’s are huge for us this year. After this I think the other 5 are going to be a toss up. I think the most talent we have needs to be on the attacking the field; therefore I would go with Ayers, Moore, Forbath, J Smith and Franklin.

    As good as some of the Freshmen are going to be it will be hard to overtake guys that have been around 2-3 years. Not that they wont play. I just dont see them coming in and being every down guys. If they do we may be in trouble.

  • DT

    Lots of candidates, but you have to go with Mike Harris. If he holds down Prince’s back, then the gains we have seen on the practice field will translate to games. Otherwise, KP is going to get hurt again and our running game suffers.

    On defense, Nate Chandler is a huge question mark. Lets hope he can translate athletic ability into production in one offseason.

  • ucla84

    My 10:

    Prince – The QB is always at the top of the list. His purported rapid improvement is obviously a huge key to the offense.
    Moore – He’s the key to the defense, both as emotional leader and as a likely All-American.
    Ayers – Every great Bruin defense has a guy who makes huge plays. Who made the two most remarkable defensive plays of 2009?
    Larimore/Sloan/Golper – Whoever replaces Reggie as QB of the defense has huge shoes to fill.
    Forbath – Our other All-American. We need more TDs and less FGs this year, but points is points, especially from 50 yards out.
    Rosario – We need a gamebreaking WR, and he’s shown the ability to be that player. He’s got to step up.
    Smith – (1) If Rosario continues to be inconsistent, we’ll need him to be a deep threat. (2) If he can be the return game stud that, say, Slater was, things are looking up.
    Maiava – Leader of the OL. After one horrid year, and one mediocre year, another big step up in class is urgently needed, and he’s the guy to lead the charge.
    Carter – With last year’s DL all but gone, someone has to step up and fill the middle. He’s got to be that someone.
    Coleman – We need a guy in the backfield who can help in protection, play smart, and still make some nice offensive plays in a Moline kinda way. While the frosh are growing up, Jetski is trying to hold on to the ball, and Knox is looking for his well-deserved place on the field, DC=stability and field smarts.

  • JJ Stokes

    HELLO — TAYLOR EMBREE????

    Only UCLA Frosh with over 40 ctaches, and only one of five with over 80 by end of Soph season!!!

    Not a breakout guy like me, but more like a sure and steady possession receiver…like Kevin Jordan.

  • Anonymous

    HELLO — TAYLOR EMBREE????

    Only UCLA Frosh with over 40 ctaches, and only one of five with over 80 by end of Soph season!!!

    Not a breakout guy like me, but more like a sure and steady possession receiver…like Kevin Jordan.