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Soso Jamabo – Halfback (Senior)

Height: 6’2 Weight: 215 lbs

Arguably one of the most fun names in all sports but especially in college football, Soso Jamabo is in his final year at UCLA and needs to resurrect his career. A highly recruited running back coming out of high school, he has yet to live up to the hype that surrounded him. He already has an uphill battle thanks to being suspended the first two games due to a violation of athletic department rules.

Redshirt junior Joshua Kelly and senior Bolu Olorunfunmi are slated to split carries in Jamabo’s absence. Depending on how the running game performs with these two, Jamabo may find himself returning to a ‘by committee’ approach.

Soso has had a so-so career thus far. Not once has he amassed 500 yards in a single season. He isn’t going to blow anybody away with his speed but his best assets are his vision and patience. He has nice feet and balance as well which helps him break would-be tackles.

Once the suspension is served, Jamabo must impress with the opportunities he is given. This is his last chance to get noticed by NFL scouts, missing the first two games isn’t the best way to start a senior season but as long as he leaves it all on the field moving forward, he’ll find himself on an NFL team eventually.

Caleb Wilson – Tight End (RS Junior)

Height: 6’4 Weight: 235lbs

There will be a lot of changes for the Bruins this year. A new coaching staff and a new quarterback are the most vital. A bit of good news for UCLA is that Caleb Wilson is still on campus. The athletic big man was off to a record start in 2017 but injuries derailed the campaign after only five games.

He still tallied 38 catches for 490 yards and one score in a short amount of time. He is a reliable receiver who can stay in and help block as well. He rarely drops targets and for a new quarterback, that is a huge plus. Look for Wilson to be the constant in what could end up being a bit of a quarterback carousel this year.

As far as Wilson’s draft stock goes, he currently is looking at the third round but staying healthy and putting everything together in 2018 could send him soaring. He is deceptively dangerous after the catch and can be a threat anywhere in the route tree.

Andre James – Offensive Line (RS Junior)

Height: 6’5 Weight: 305 lbs

Making the move to left tackle after starting the last year and a half at right tackle is Andre James. He replaces 2018 first rounder, Kolton Miller, but with his experience, he should do just fine filling the shoes.

He is entrusted with keeping Wilton Speight, for now, upright. James hasn’t missed any time due to injury so far in his career. Two of the most important qualities a scout looks for in offensive linemen is durability and consistency. James exudes both and could potentially work his way into the first half of the draft.

Depending on where he gets drafted and his performance this season, it is a possibility he gets moved to a guard in the pros. He is either on the tall end of 6’4 or on the short end of 6’5 but no matter the position he ends up playing on Sundays, he needs to add a bit to his 305-pound frame.

Adarius Pickett – Safety (RS Senior)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 200 lbs

Pickett could have declared for the 2018 NFL Draft and gone fairly early. Instead, he chose to finish out his eligibility with UCLA. The secondary is the most talented and most experienced on the entire team and Pickett is the leader of that crew.

He totaled 85 tackles and one interception last year. He is rejoined by cornerbacks Nate Meadors and Darnay Holmes who also started last year. Pickett is tough as nails and is not afraid to step in the box or to scream down the field to lay a hit.

He is a solid open-field tackler and plays with some fire and passion. He also plays with reckless abandon which may come back to haunt him at some point. Nevertheless, he is a physical safety who doesn’t back down and at the end of the day, you want players like that on your side.

Jaelan Phillips – EDGE (Sophomore)

Height: 6’5 Weight: 245 lbs

The HIGHLY touted recruit wasn’t able to make the splash that he or his team anticipated and expected. He was sidelined after six games for the Bruins thanks to an injury but he did lay a foundation to which he can build upon.

He had 21 total tackles (seven for loss), and three and a half sacks in his shortened debut season. He is still not 100% so he could play in a limited role to start the season off. Phillips has nice long arms to keep engaging blockers from getting in close enough to control him.

He also is an athletic freak who possesses a quick first step and can bend and dip with the best of them. His closing speed and instincts are close to impossible to teach. Phillips will be standing up in UCLA’s new scheme and if he shows that his injuries are behind him, most likely will be a first-round talent when eligible to declare.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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