When Carson Steele made the leap from Ball State to the sun-soaked fields of UCLA, the expectations were astronomical. The Bruins fans buzzed with anticipation, curious to see if Steele’s prowess would translate to a major conference setting. Halfway into the season, Steele is carving a path of power, agility, and consistency that’s setting him up as a potential offensive cornerstone for the Bruins.
The Carson Steele Era At UCLA
Carson Steele’s early enrollment at UCLA in January 2023 set the tone for his commitment to the program. His first few games showcased his talents, the running back’s adaptability and resilience are evident. Against the likes of WSU and Utah, Steele faced tougher defenses, yet he still managed impressive runs, churning out hard-fought yards and showcasing his signature mix of power and finesse.
His stats are telling: 413 rushing yards on 71 carries, an impressive average of 5.8 yards per carry, coupled with 64 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. Coach Kelly has designated him as their lead back, although the depth chart wouldn’t say it, with Steele’s 71 carries versus Harden’s 47. Against NCCU, Steele’s explosive 16.6 yards-per-carry average highlighted his big-play ability, which included a 42-yard run, demonstrating the kind of threat he poses every time he touches the ball.
A Glimpse Back At Ball State
Steele’s two seasons at Ball State solidified him as one of the standout running backs in the MAC Conference. With 12 100-yard rushing games under his belt and an impressive tally of 1,556 rushing yards in 2022 alone, it’s no surprise UCLA saw the immense value he could bring. Furthermore, Steele’s multifaceted game, evidenced by his 29 receptions for 166 yards, illustrated that he’s not just a one-dimensional back.
Filling Big Shoes At UCLA
The departure of standouts like Zach Charbonnet and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson left significant voids in UCLA’s offense. Yet, under the guidance of Chip Kelly, Steele’s addition provides hope for a seamless transition. Kelly’s recent remarks attest to Steele’s impact: “That kid is a beast… He’s a downhill, physical football player… He runs through tackles, and if I’m a defensive coach, I don’t know what to do.”
Furthermore, the head coach’s nod to the team’s depth, citing the likes of TJ Harden, Anthony Adkins, Keegan Jones, and Colson Yankoff, hints that while Steele might be the star, the Bruins’ ground game will remain multifaceted.
What’s Next For Steele?
As UCLA progresses through the rest of the season, Steele is projected to end the regular season just shy of a 1,000-yard rushing mark at his current pace. He could easily reach 1,000 yards, but it’ll be up to the game script and the amount of carries he gets. But numbers aside, his presence on the field, his leadership in the locker room, and his commitment to grinding out every yard make him invaluable. His past at Ball State, combined with his budding legacy at UCLA, ensures Carson Steele remains a name to watch in college football.
On a lighter note, one wonders if the warm California climate suits his pet alligator just as well as the football fields suit Steele. Either way, the future looks bright for this bruising back and his reptilian companion.