A sign that UCLA’s football program has made significant advances will be fewer freshmen on the field.
Since Coach Jim Mora arrived in 2012, the Bruins have had an on-the-job training program for their recruits. Of the 47 freshmen who suited up during the last two years, 30 have played. That includes 18 last season.
“We don’t go, ‘Let’s redshirt this guy and save him,’” Mora said. “That’s not our mind set and never will be, I hope.”
Mora now has three recruiting classes on campus and the result is greater depth and fewer immediate opportunities. Of the 18 freshmen this season, six appear to have a role, although that number could grow.
The freshmen will be most prominent on defense, with linebacker Kenny Young and defensive linemen Matt Dickerson, Ainuu Taua and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
Others could be added to the group. Mora said that his staff would meet Thursday to determine what freshmen could have a role.
“We’re going to put together a preliminary plan,” Mora said. “We don’t think about guys who we want to redshirt. We think about guys who we want to play and who can help us win. The result of that is some guys will redshirt.”
Mora said the staff meeting will determine, “what role [a freshman] plays and is it worth it.”