Well…it is here. The wait is over and college football is officially back. The last time we saw the UCLA Bruins on the field they lost a dog fight to conference foe Stanford 49-42. While the final game of 2018 may not have ended the way the Bruin faithful had wanted, it still had a positive undertone.
UCLA started the Chip Kelly era with a 0-5 record but finished the second have of the season 3-4. Victories against in-state adversary Cal and cross-town rival USC rose hopes for 2019. With 2019’s arrival in less than 24 hours, let’s take a look at some of the Bruins we need to keep a keen eye on in the season opener against Cincinnati.
Chip Kelly recruited DTR out of Bishop Gorman high school and when the Bruins landed him, the hype immediately began. Although there were plenty of growing pains throughout 2018, you could see the potential of Dorian running a Chip Kelly offense. Now with a year of college football and a second offseason to get accustomed to the playbook, we could see a big leap in offensive production.
Offensive Tackle, Freshman
A true freshman out of San Juan Hills High School, the Southern California tackle steps right in to protect DTR’s backside. A four-star recruit last year, he was being courted by pretty much every top program in the country. UCLA was able to land him and now he is a day one starter. Rhyan is replacing Andre James, currently a Raider, who started all 12 games at left tackle last year.
Anytime you have a true freshman in the lineup, it is worth the time to pay attention to their performance. It’s on a different tier when it’s at such a vital position like left tackle. He has impressive size for a true freshman, 6’4 and just over 320 lbs. There’s no doubt that he has the potential to be a stud. How quickly he can adapt will be found out come game time.
Defensive Tackle, Sophomore
The UCLA defense was tough to watch last year but they were young in the front seven. One name who could really make a name for himself is defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia. He will start in the trenches for second-year defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro, who has been primarily coaching defenisve linemen since 1995.
Ogbonnia could be a force in his second season. He was listed at 280 lbs coming out of Taylor High School in Katy, Texas but now he is listed at 335 lbs while standing 6’4. He could be a problem or opposing offensive lines in the Bruins 3-4 defense. Experience and growth could lead to a drastic turnaround on the defensive side of the ball.