UCLA preseason preview: Receivers

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
3:31
PM PT
With UCLA training camp set to begin Aug. 4 at Cal State San Bernardino, we're taking a preseason look at the roster and breaking down the Bruins position by position.

We looked at quarterbacks and the offensive line earlier this week. We stick with the offense and check in a group that must replace its two most productive members over the last three season: Receivers.

DEPTH CHART AT THE END OF SPRING PRACTICE:

X (receiver)
Jerry Johnson (6-3, 211, Sr.) OR
Devin Lucien (6-0, 200, Fr.)
Sam Handler (5-10, 195, Fr.)

Y (receiver)
Joseph Fauria (6-7, 255, Sr.) OR
Darius Bell (5-10, 205, Jr.)
John Young (6-6, 255, Fr.)
Jordan Barrett (6-2, 255, Jr.)
Jackson Reeder (6-3, 194, Fr.)

F (receiver)
Ricky Marvray (5-11, 192, Jr.)
Jordon James (5-8, 193, So.)
Roosevelt Davis (5-6, 155, Fr.)

Z (receiver)
Shaq Evans (6-1, 201,Jr.)
Jerry Rice, Jr. (5-11, 185, Jr.)
Logan Sweet (6-0, 185, Fr.)
Tyler Scott (6-2, 205, Fr.)

PROJECTED OPENING-DAY DEPTH CHART:

X (receiver)
Jerry Johnson (6-3, 211, Sr.)
Devin Lucien (6-0, 200, Fr.)
Javon Williams (6-5, 180, Fr.)
Sam Handler (5-10, 195, Fr.)
Christoph Bono (6-1, 162, Fr.)

Y (receiver)
Joseph Fauria (6-7, 255, Sr.)
Darius Bell (5-10, 205, Jr.)
John Young (6-6, 255, Fr.)
Jordan Barrett (6-2, 255, Jr.)
Jackson Reeder (6-3, 194, Fr.)

F (receiver)
Jordon James (5-8, 193, So.)
Ricky Marvray (5-11, 192, Jr.)
Kenny Walker (5-10, 171, Fr.)
Ahmaad Harris (5-6, 155, Fr.)
Roosevelt Davis (5-6, 155, Fr.)

Z (receiver)
Shaq Evans (6-1, 201, Jr.)
Jordan Payton (6-2, 214, Fr.)
Jerry Rice, Jr. (5-11, 185, Jr.)
Tyler Scott (6-2, 205, Fr.)
Logan Sweet (6-0, 185, Fr.)

KEY LOSSES:
Nelson Rosario, 64 catches, 1,161 yards, 5 TDs. Graduated.
Taylor Embree, 20 catches, 228 yards, 2 TDs. Graduated.
Josh Smith, 11 catches, 243 yards, 1 TD. Graduated.
Cory Harkey, 1 catch, 10 yards. Graduated.
Anthony Barr, 3 catches, 16 yards, 1 TD. Switched to linebacker.

THE SKINNY:
On paper, it would appear that graduation hurt UCLA the most at receiver. Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree were among the top three receivers on the team for three years in a row.

Those losses will definitely hurt experience-wise, but depth figures to be more important this season as offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will bring in a high-tempo, shotgun spread offense that almost renders the depth chart irrelevant because everybody in the three deep will get plenty of chances.

The player who seemed most rejuvenated by the departures of the mainstay receivers was Jerry Johnson. He's battled injuries throughout his career and never was able to crack the lineup much, but showed during spring he has plenty of ability to be effective all over the field. He's a natural at using his size to gain position.

Shaq Evans is the most experienced returning wideout. He started six games last season and played in 13. The Notre Dame transfer had 19 catches for 309 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in a fourth-quarter comeback victory over Washington State. His combination of speed and athleticism make him the best deep threat in the receiving corps.

Joseph Fauria, making the switch from tight end because the new UCLA offense doesn't have a true tight end, is the leading returner among the pass-catching group. He was second on the team last year with 39 catches and 481 yards and led the team with six touchdown receptions. His size makes him a matchup nightmare on underneath routes and in the red zone and he has excellent hands so he should shine in the new offense.

Jordon James is a scat-back who can be used at running back and in the slot. The coaches will look to get him in situations where he can catch the ball in space and let him use his video game-like open field moves to make defenders miss. There is a reason they call him "Joystick" and in this offense he'll find mismatches with linebackers quite often.

Ricky Marvray brings two years of experience to the table. His numbers haven't been all that impressive with 30 receptions for 245 yards over the last two seasons, but he's a gritty player who isn't afraid to go into traffic and make the tough catch. He also seemed rejuvenated by the change in coaching regimes, but had back surgery midway through camp and must prove his health.

Darius Bell switched from quarterback to receiver this spring and made quite an impression. He's not the fastest receiver on the team, but he showed natural instincts in getting open and displayed tremendous hands. He was probably the best receiver in camp until a strained quad sidelined him for the latter part of spring. If his fall is anything like his spring, he'll see plenty of playing time.

Devin Lucien is a redshirt freshman who appeared to be ready to play last year, but sat on the sidelines much to his chagrin. It turned out to be a favor for the new coaching staff, who get him him without any mileage. He's a tough-as-nails competitor with a burning desire to get the ball. He has good speed and instincts and arguably the best hands on the team. If he gets the playbook down, he'll be a force.

Incoming freshmen Jordan Payton, Javon Williams, Kenny Walker and Ahmaad Harris make up a top-notch class at this position. Payton and Williams are almost physical twins of departed seniors Embree and Rosario, but project to be far more productive. Don't be surprised to see both of them challenging for starting roles as the season progresses, though Williams would be well-served by using a redshirt season to help fill out his 6-5 frame.

Walker is another open-field nightmare who can play both slot receiver and running back and will probably get a look as a return man as well. The same goes for Harris, who is an under-the-radar recruit who didn't get recruited much, but has the speed and quickness that should help him succeed in UCLA's new offense. He's a tad undersized, though, so look for him to redshirt.

Jerry Rice, Jr. will also have to stay ready as part of the three-deep. Rice got into two games last season and caught two passes. He's shown on the practice field that he has good hands and while he's not as athletic as some of his fellow receivers, he knows how to play the position and can get the job done.

Walk-on Tyler Scott, a former baseball player for UCLA, had a huge spring game with 113 yards and two touchdowns receiving. That performance came out of nowhere, but it bears watching to see if he can build on it and compete for playing time. John Young has also showed some flashes of potential, but he can't seem to shake the injury bug. He's got good hands and size and the coaches are very interested to see what he can do if he stays healthy.

The rest of the corps consists of walk-ons who are going to be hard-pressed to find playing time without some serious injuries or major improvements over the summer.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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2014 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
B. Hundley33202420
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
P. Perkins16805.00
B. Hundley15392.61
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
J. Payton89812.30
T. Duarte33913.00
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense116242358
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring28208