With less than four weeks until the start of UCLA’s fall camp, let’s examine each of the Bruins’ position groups as they try and best last season’s 9-5 record — the program’s highest win total since 2005.
First, the offensive line, one of UCLA’s most problematic areas last season. A thin and relatively inexperienced unit, the Bruins’ line gave up 52 sacks and committed numerous penalties. After landing seven touted freshmen, it could be the most improved group on the roster.
Xavier Su’a-Filo is the foundation. The All-American enters his junior season as one of the conference’s top talents, a versatile lineman who can switch between both guard and tackle. Given that the team has some studs coming in at guard, Su’a-Filo could easily shift to left tackle, where he played as a freshman in 2009. He’s spent the offseason focusing on footwork and improving his body, even undergoing mixed-martial arts training with Jay Glazer.
After redshirting in 2011, Jake Brendel turned into Freshman All-American at center and is now on the preseason watch list for the Rimington Award. Besides Su’a-Filo, he’s the only lock to start.
Torian White and Simon Goines both started games in their debut seasons, but the latter has struggled with his health. Ben Wysocki drew some praise from coaches late in spring practices as well.
Some attrition: Alberto Cid and Alexandru Ceachir medically retired during after spring. Kody Innes (graduation) and Will Oliver also left the program.
After one spring practice, I asked Adrian Klemm how comfortable he felt with his offensive line line: ““I would expect to have two or three freshmen start this season. So that shows you how comfortable I am.”
He spoke partly out of frustration after what he called the worst practice he’d seen at UCLA, but it won’t be surprising to see two start by the season opener. Four-star guards Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch, whom Rivals.com ranked 17th and 18th in the country at their position, are the best bets.
Redmond was the California’s second-best high school wrestler in the 285-pound class. He finished 41-2 in the regular season at Los Alamitos, recovering quickly from a dislocated elbow in October. UCLA pulled Benenoch all the way from Seven Lakes High in Katy, Texas, where he used his size and quick feet to become one of the top 50 recruits in the state.
Scott Quessenberry should also be the clear-cut backup to Brendel. The three-star prospect was rated as the fifth-best center in the country. His brother David was a first-team All-WAC tackle and the first San Jose State player to participate in a Senior Bowl.
LT – Xavier Su’a-Filo, Jr., 6-4, 310
LG – Alex Redmond, Fr., 6-5, 302
C – Jake Brendel, RS So., 6-4, 276
RG – Caleb Benenoch, Fr., 6-5, 321
RT – Torian White, RS So., 6-5, 282