UCLA plans to redshirt offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry

UCLA is planning to redshirt offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry, who underwent surgeries on both shoulders this offseason.

Quessenberry had started 19 games through his freshman and sophomore seasons, playing guard in all but one of those appearances. Head coach Jim Mora said he was unsure whether or not the former three-star recruit will switch to center when he returns in 2016. Quessenberry started the 2014 season opener against Virginia at center in place of Jake Brendel, who is now a redshirt senior.

Even without Quessenberry, the Bruins return plenty of game experience in the trenches, including Brendel and his 39 career starts. Five other linemen have combined for 73 starts.

Offensive tackles Caleb Benenoch and Simon Goines were also limited by injuries in spring, but project to be ready for at least part of preseason camp at Cal State San Bernardino. Linebacker Kenny Orjioke and running back Steve Manfro are also on track to be healthy this season.

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UCLA center Jake Brendel makes Rimington Trophy watch list

For the second year in a row, UCLA offensive lineman Jake Brendel is on the Rimington Trophy watch list.

The Bruins’ fourth-year starter is one of 63 potential candidates up for the award, which has been given to the top center in college football since 2000. No center from the Pac-12 — or from any school west of the Rocky Mountains — has ever won it.

Brendel, who has started 39 out of 40 possible games, also had a spot on the preseason watch list heading into the 2014 season. The Dallas-area native is one of the most important members of UCLA’s offensive line, which appears to have some stability after being ranked near the bottom of the country in sacks allowed in each of the past three seasons.

In addition to Brendel, who had a strong spring camp, UCLA returns left tackle Conor McDermott, whose introduction to the starting lineup last season dramatically improved the unit’s performance. The rest of the first-string line is still somewhat fluid, but guards Alex Redmond, Scott Quessenberry and Kenny Lacy as well as tackles Simon Goines and Caleb Benenoch all have starting experience.

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UCLA’s Jake Brendel, Fabian Moreau to attend Pac-12 Media Days

UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau (10) will help represent the Bruins at Pac-12 Media Days. He is pictured here defending former UCLA receiver Devin Lucien during spring practice on Apr. 16, 2014. (Brad Graverson/Staff)

UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau (10) will help represent the Bruins at Pac-12 Media Days. He is pictured here defending former UCLA receiver Devin Lucien during spring practice on Apr. 16, 2014. (Brad Graverson/Staff)

At Pac-12 Media Days next month, UCLA will be represented by center Jake Brendel and cornerback Fabian Moreau.

The event expanded to two days for the first time in 2014, and will remain in that format at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank on July 30-31. Head coach Jim Mora and his two players are scheduled to speak on the first day at 10:50 a.m.

The Bruins have customarily brought veteran players to the conference’s first major press event of the season, and this year is no exception. Brendel is an easy pick as a team captain, one who has started 39 of 40 possible games in the middle of the offensive line.

That Moreau is attending rather than linebacker Myles Jack is a bit of a surprise, but the cornerback is one of the few seniors with starting experience. The former running back was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, but put together an underwhelming campaign given his preseason hype.

See the full Pac-12 Media Days schedule below: Continue reading

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UCLA lands three on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams

Myles Jack is one of three UCLA players on Phil Steele's preseason All-American list. The linebacker is pictured during UCLA's "Spring Showcase" at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Myles Jack is one of three UCLA players on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American list. The linebacker is pictured during UCLA’s “Spring Showcase” at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Three UCLA players received spots on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams, the annual list released on Monday morning.

Linebacker Myles Jack earned a second-team nod, while nose tackle Kenny Clark and center Jake Brendel made the fourth team. Jack and Clark are the Bruins’ two most talented defensive players, and both are likely bound for the NFL draft after their junior seasons. Brendel, a redshirt senior, is a fourth-year starter who has played in 39 of 40 possible games.

Six Bruins landed on Steele’s preseason All-Pac-12 first team, although Brendel settled for a second-team spot behind USC center Max Tuerk — a preseason first-team All-American. In addition to Jack and Clark, the first team included receiver Jordan Payton, offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, and cornerback Fabian Moreau.

The most notable absence on the list is left tackle Conor McDermott. The 6-foot-9 lineman started the last seven games of the 2014 season, and projects to be the most important player on the offensive line besides Brendel.

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UCLA spring camp position review: Offensive line

UCLA's offensive line during spring football practice at Spaulding Field on April 23, 2015. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA’s offensive line during spring football practice at Spaulding Field on April 23, 2015. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

The improvement of UCLA’s offensive line has been a recurring storyline for more than a year, so you’re allowed some skepticism as you read this: Despite allowing 128 sacks over the last three seasons, this could be one of the team’s strengths.

As usual, the caveat is that the line will need to stay healthy. But unlike the last few years, the unit has the sort of depth that can sustain a certain amount of attrition. Two starters are crucial: left tackle Conor McDermott, and center Jake Brendel. The former has had shoulder problems in the past, but was a game-changing left tackle through the second half of last season. He looked healthy and capable all of spring. Brendel is still the only full-time center UCLA has had in the Jim Mora era, and the one game he missed wasn’t pretty.

Injuries to either one could throw the line completely out of whack. But the other spots? Losing someone for a few games wouldn’t be a death sentence. Continue reading

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