SAN BERNARDINO — After one of the worst practices he’d ever seen, Adrian Klemm was asked how comfortable he felt with his offensive line.
Frustrated, the UCLA assistant coach said he expected to start two or three true freshmen.
After the Bruins started preseason training camp in San Bernardino, Klemm clarified: He meant that two or three of his seven freshmen will compete for, not necessarily win, a spot.
“More often than not, they’re not as technically sound as you’d like them to be,” said Klemm, who was named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. “We have three or four of those guys that are physically close.
“We have probably three of them that have a long ways (to go) in terms of body composition. Two that came in pretty poor shape.”
Klemm declined to specify which freshmen fell into which group, but four-star recruit Caleb Benenoch is definitely in the first. The former Michigan State commitment has a chance to start at right guard, where Klemm is currently rotating four different players to try and find a starter.
“He’s physically pretty damn close,” Klemm said of Benenoch, who measures at 6-foot-5 and around 313 pounds. “He’s one of the stronger guys in our group.”
The freshman from Katy, Texas added that he was comfortable with first-team reps: “I can’t play like a freshman. I’ve got to play like I’ve been here a few years.” The main differences for him so far has been the tempo, as well as keeping his intensity up on every play.
The others rotating at right guard are redshirt sophomore Ben Wysocki, and true freshmen Alex Redmond and Scott Quessenberry. Quessenberry came in as a highly touted center, but impressed the staff enough for them to try him at both spots.
Klemm wants to make a decision after five or six practices, adding consistency to a group anchored by All-America guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and sophomore center Jake Brendel. Settling that is a crucial part of improving a line that allowed 52 sacks last season, second-worst in the Pac-12.
The tackles also look stronger. Torian White, currently starting on the right side, is up to 290 pounds from 265 last season. Simon Goines struggled with knee injuries for most of last season, and underwent surgery soon after the Holiday Bowl. Blessed with a 6-foot-6, 325-pound frame, he’ll benefit from taking on All-America outside linebacker Anthony Barr during practice.
“Last year, Simon was a deer in the headlights,” head coach Jim Mora said. “This year, he’s a completely different guy. He’s transformed his body.”