After an unexpected transfer, a senior who has lost graduation and has undergone a medical retirement, UCLA is unsure about the starting roles of the majority of its attacking linemen.
The Bruins have some depth in the position group, but with only two starters guaranteed, the team will likely have to rotate trial and error until they find the right players for the job.
Here is a summary of UCLA’s attacking line guard position group entering summer:
On the grid
Sophomore Sean Rhyan, from San Juan Hills High, will retain his role as a left tackle after an impressive freshman season. The Bruins’ strongest recurring offensive lineman at 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds started all 12 games on the way last year to be named as part of the 2019 USA Today Freshman All-American team, The Athletic 2019 Freshman All-American team and Pro Football Focus’ national All-Freshman team.
The other guaranteed starter in the line-up is Jake Burton, redshirt senior at the right tackle. Burton has been in position for the past two seasons after moving out of the line of defense in the spring of 2017.
Now the question marks …
The left-hand squad’s starting position was turned by a handful of players last season, while redshirt junior Michael Alves recovered from an injury. Redshirt freshmen Jon Gaines II and Alec Anderson and real freshmen Duke Clemens all saw the position. Clemens has started the last eight games of the season and will most likely get the nod as Alves will not return after medically stopping sports during the off season.
After losing Boss Tagaloa on graduation, the Bruins have a clearing in the middle. Redshirt sophomore Sam Marrazzo is the likely candidate after seeing time as Tagaloa’s backup last season.
With the unexpected departure of two-year-old starter Christaphany Murray, who has been transferred to Oklahoma, the Bruins have a clearing with the right guard. While Chip Kelly may consider transferring Anderson and Gaines, Atonio Mafi is another – and bigger – option. The junior, who switched from the defensive line in the off-season, would bring an intimidating presence to the O-line with his 6-foot-2,336-pound frame.
From the grid
The biggest blow to UCLA’s surplus in transfers was when Murray announced his decision to leave Westwood in early January.
The 6-2, 298-pound Mater Dei High alum was Bruins’s first true freshman to start in the middle – the first three games of 2018 – since at least 1982, when those stats began to be recorded. The former Freshman All-Americas, named by ESPN and 247Sports, started all 24 games of his UCLA career.
Before Murray’s transfer and Alves’ retirement, the Bruins expected that only one starting spot would be open in 2020 with Tagaloa’s graduation. Tagaloa started in the center of the Bruins for the past two seasons after switching the line of defense after his second season in 2017.
On the way
The Bruins picked up two three-star linemen in their 2020 recruiting class: guard Bruno Fina (6-4, 240) from Tucson, Ariz., And tackled Patrick Selna (6-6, 270) from Oakland.