Players to Watch – UCLA Bruins


November 24, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds (29) chases down UCLA Bruins wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (1) in the first half of the game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Season one of the Jim Mora era was a success with the Bruins winning the Pac 12 South and beating rival USC with a more dynamic offense under the control of Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin.  Franklin is now in the NFL but UCLA returns four of five offensive lineman with the only loss being second-team All-Pac 12 selection Jeff Baca. The next step for the Bruins is to prove season one wasn’t a flash in the pan and Mora can keep the progress going forward and not stall out.

#56 – Xavier Su’a-Filo – OG
6’3” – 305 lbs. – JR

After starting all 13 games in 2009 at left tackle and earning second-team All-Freshman All-American by Phil Steele, Su’a-Filo went on his LDS mission for two seasons and picked up right where he left off.  Under Jim Mora, he was moved to left guard where he helped paved the way for Johnathan Franklin who set the school record for most yards rushing in a single season. Su’a-Filo was First-Team All-Pac 12 selection at the conclusion of the season as well as an honorable mention All-American selection by

Strengths – Su’a-Filo has a very strong build with thick legs and a strong upper body which he excels at using off the snap. He does a great job exploding his hands into the defensive player on the snap to gain control and use his leverage to drive him off the ball. He has great lateral movement with his feet and is good pulling and attacking the second level.  In pass protection, he is able to bend very well while taking his drop step with his head on a swivel.

Weaknesses – Su’a-Filo will over extend once his momentum is stopped causing him to lose balance at times. He will need to keep his pad level lower coming off the snap and not be so reliant on his brute strength at the next level.

Overall – Su’a-Filo is a fundamentally sound offensive guard that possesses great feet and hands. He strives at being able to explode off the ball into the defender using his leverage and strength to drive them off the ball. He has very nimble feet that create versatility for Mora in the running game where he is able to pull Su’a-Filo to either side getting an extra blocker to the second level. Su’a-Filo will be 23 years old at the time of next year’s draft so his body is matured at this point with very little more to grow. He has a compact build from top to bottom with the ability to move into the top 20 of next year’s draft.

#1 – Shaquelle Evans – WR
6’1” – 210 lbs. – SR

Evans is a senior wide receiver for the Bruins that started his career at Notre Dame and became a go-to weapon for Hundley and the Bruin offense last year in the passing game. He finished the season with 60 receptions and 877 yards including 8 catches and 148 yards in the Rose Bowl for the Bruins. Evans was selected as an honorable mention selection All-Pac 12 by the coaches at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Strengths – Evans is well built wide receiver at 6’1” and 210 lbs. and shows the ability to go over the middle and use his frame. He has the ability to get by the cornerback in man coverage and stretch the field vertically with his speed. Evans is a strong wide receiver that uses his body very well when fighting for the ball versus a defender.

Weakness – Evans, even being a senior, is still very raw in route running. He will round-off cuts instead of planting and breaking his route off crisply. On inside routes, he needs to use his hands more than his body when receiving the ball.

Overall – Evans is a speed receiver with the size and strength to go over the middle. After a slow start working on timing with Hundley last year, Evans came on strong at the end of the season giving the Bruins a solid outside threat to use in the passing game. He excels versus man coverage with his speed to blow by a defender and stretch the field. Evans needs now needs to take the next step as a wide receiver in getting better at setting up his routes and become a more crisp route runner but has the ability to be a lethal weapon for the Bruins and move up NFL Draft Boards.