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July 23, 2013

Going Camping: Running backs

UCLA fall camp is just a few days away, and with that, BruinSportsReport.com continues its Going Camping preview with the running backs.


2013 UCLA RUNNING BACKS AT A GLANCE
PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
1. Jordon James - 5-9, 193, RS Junior

James gets the starting nod more or less by default. He didn't exactly tear it up in the spring, but he was probably better than the rest of the RBs on the board.

2. Paul Perkins - 5-10, 190, RS Freshman

Perkins had a huge fall camp last season, and had a pretty good year on the scout team. His spring ball was underwhelming, however, which probably puts him below James on the depth chart heading into San Bernardino.

3. Malcolm Jones - 6-0, 220, Senior

Jones had a solid camp, and he maybe looked better than he did because the rest of the RBs weren't performing up to par. He has a legitimate shot at playing time this season if he can keep it up in August.

4. Craig Lee - 6-0, 188, Freshman

Lee will have a tough time blocking at this level in his true freshman season, but he could come to camp as one of the better running backs on the roster. He has great vision and great burst, and if he carries over his high school talent to Division I, he could be in the mix for starter reps as well.

5. Steven Manfro - 5-9, 193, RS Sophomore

Coming off a shoulder surgery, Manfro didn't get many reps in the spring. He's ultra talented, but will likely be used more as a spell RB, F-back and returner this season.

BATTLE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Obviously, it's the battle to see who will be UCLA's starter this season. As of today, it looks like the Bruins will just use a committee approach, because no one running back has emerged as a "carry-the-load" kind of player. But this camp will go a long way to proving those statements as fact or fiction. Seeing who gets the most reps, and seeing who does the most with them, will maybe be the storyline of camp this August.

PRESSURE IS ON...
Jordon James. He's a very good practice player, almost always living up to his "joystick" nickname. But in games, he never quite produced the same way he did on Spaulding Field or even in San Bernardino. This year could be the last year he has a chance to prove himself as the team's starter, as Lee will be a year older, and five-star Joe Mixon could be on the way as well.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Craig Lee appears to have all his academic issues behind him, and looks set to join the squad in time for fall camp. In high school, he was easily one of the best running backs in the nation, and it will be fun to see if that translates to UCLA in his true freshman season. If he can be as good as advertised, UCLA may not have a problem at starting RB after all.

POSITION MVP
It may sound strange, but injured RB Damien Thigpen might just be the MVP of this group. If healthy, he'd probably be the starter here and at kick returner. But the little RB is still recovering from an ACL injury that may sideline him for a few games this season. Because of that, Jordon James is probably the de facto MVP of the RBs.


Going Camping Review

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