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UCLA is home to one of the most popular NCAA football teams. They’re gearing up for another fun season.

UCLA football hasn’t had the most successful seasons the past few years, but they’ve certainly held a name for themselves. According to College Choice, they rank 22nd out of the top 25 best colleges for college football.

Head coach Chip Kelly seems to be leading the team on the right path and was recently signed to a four-year extension contract through 2025. Kelly first joined UCLA in 2017 and in 2021, he led the Bruins to an 8-4 season. This was their first winning season since 2015.

Though the Bruins haven’t had the best success in the past, their run with Kelly seems promising and with his extension, they seem to have a solid chance at another winning season.

Ranked No. 37 in the FanSided Preseason Top 50 rankings are the UCLA Bruins!

UCLA football 2021 season in review

UCLA undoubtedly fought hard for a winning season. Their biggest winning streak of three happened in their last three games, where it seemed to matter most for the Bruins. They were scheduled to play in the Holiday Bowl, but that was unfortunately canceled due to a UCLA football COVID-19 breakout.

2021 appeared to be a breakthrough season for the Bruins that could potentially continue in 2022. UCLA hasn’t won a Bowl game since 2015, and 2021 seemed to be their chance at breaking the losing streak.

Previewing UCLA Bruins offense for 2022 season
  • Returning starters (9): QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, RB Zach Charbonnet, WR Kam Brown, WR Kazmeir Allen, TE Michael Ezeike, LG Antonio Mafi, OC Duke Clemens, RG Jon Gaines II, RT Josh Carlin
  • Notable newcomers: WR Jake Bobo (Duke), LT Raiqwon O’Neal (Rutgers), WR Jadyn Marshall (St. Mary’s), WR Titus Mokiao-Antimalala (UCF)
  • Impact player: Zach Charbonnet

Zach Charbonnet is virtually unstoppable as a running back. Over the 2021 season, he received 1,137 rush yards, 202 rushing attempts and 13 rushing touchdowns. His impact is highly noticeable in UCLA’s success and he’ll likely help the team to many more victories in 2022.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is also a great player that deserves recognition. Though he’s struggled with consistency, he’s seemingly getting more comfortable at quarterback every year.

Teammate Jon Gaines II said of Thompson-Robinson (via The Athletic), “He’s the perfect example of how the whole team had to grow. Kinda get thrown into the fire, learned the ropes a little bit and then you start performing. I think for him it’s understanding and building that confidence for himself, then that confidence goes to the whole team.”

The two are likely to have the biggest impact on the Bruins’s success in 2022.

Previewing UCLA Bruins defense for 2022 season
  • Returning starters (7): DT Jay Toia, LB Kain Medrano, LB Damian Sellers, CB Devin Kirkwood, CB John Humphrey, S Mo Osling III, S Stephan Blaylock
  • Notable newcomers: DE Gabriel Murphy (UNT), DT Jacob Sykes (Harvard), LB Darius Muasau, NB Azizi Hearn (Wyoming)
  • Impact player: Azizi Hearn

Azizi Hearn has yet to play for UCLA, but he’s expected to make a big impact. In 2021, he produced 22 solo tackles and eight assist tackles. The Bruins defense faced several changes coming into this season, most notably leader Qwuantrezz Knight leaving after being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.

Overall, the defense is a little bit unpredictable right now. Big changes occurred, but each defensive player is anticipated to play well together.

UCLA football players awards watch for 2022 season

Nine UCLA players have been named to the preseason watch list for several different awards.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, Maxwell/Davey O’Brien/Doak Walker

Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet have both been named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list. This is Thompson’s third time joining the list and Charbonnet’s first. The Maxwell Award is given annually to the best college football player that’s decided by a panel of sportscasters, sportswriters and NCAA head coaches.

The Davey O’Brien Award is given to the best college quarterback each season, and the Doak Walker award is given to the best running back. Thompson-Robinson was added to the Davey O’Brien Award watch list, and Charbonnet was added to the Doak Walker.

In 2021, Thompson-Robinson had 176 completions, 283 passing attempts, 62.2 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns and 2,409 yards.

According to All Bruins, “Thompson-Robinson is within reach of breaking a few of UCLA’s all-time passing records, considering he is just 15 touchdowns away from surpassing Brett Hundley and 3,168 yards away from surpassing Cade McNown.”

Both are huge factors in the Bruins success last season.

Darius Muasau and Carl Jones, Butkus

Darius Muasau and Carl Jones were recently named to the Butkus Award preseason watch list. The Butkus Award is given to the top linebacker in the country each season.

Muasau has yet to play with UCLA, but he’s expected to step into the top inside linebacker position for the 2022 season. In 2021, he completed 108 tackles (65 solo and 43 assists), seven sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception.

Jones has played with UCLA for several years and has increasingly gotten better each year. In 2021, he completed 18 tackles (nine solo and nine assists), 0.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

Jake Bobo, Biletnikoff

Jake Bobo was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which honors the best college receiver annually. Bobo will begin his first season with UCLA in 2022.

UCLA hasn’t had any players on the Biletnikoff Award watch list since 2017, so Bobo’s impact will be significant.

In 2021, Bobo had 74 receptions, 794 receiving yards, 10.7 yards per reception average and one receiving touchdown. According to All Bruins, no UCLA player has ever won a Biletnikoff Award.

Michael Ezeike, Mackey

Michael Ezeike was named to the Mackey Award watch list. The Mackey Award annually honors the best college tight end.

Ezeike may not noticeably be the best player, but he has continuously improved each season. In 2021, he had three receptions, 45 receiving yards, 15 yards per reception and one receiving touchdown.

Kazmeir Allen, Hornung

Kazmeir Allen was the seventh Bruin to be named to a preseason watchlist. He’s on the watchlist for the Hornung Award, which is annually given to the most versatile player.

No UCLA player has won the Hornung Award, but a few have made the watchlist in the past.

Allen has played a couple of different positions with UCLA, and most recently became a wide receiver in 2021. In 2021, he made eight rushing attempts, 93 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.

Chase Griffin, Wuerffel Trophy

Chase Griffin was announced to the Wuerffel Trophy preseason watchlist, which honors players for community service.

According to UCLA, “His numerous community service endeavors include experiences with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the Boost Mobile Holiday event, LA After School All-Stars, Be the Match Marrow Donor Registry and the LA Unified Schools.”

Griffin is a great leader and has had a positive impact on UCLA.

Jack Landherr IV, Mannelly Award

Jack Landherr IV was named to the Mannelly Award watchlist, which recognizes the best college FBS long snapper.

Landherr has had a big impact on UCLA for several years and according to UCLA, he’s successfully executed snaps for all of the team’s place kicks and punts over the last 28 games.

UCLA football biggest game on 2022 schedule

UCLA will face Utah on Oct. 8, which could be the biggest game of the season. It could potentially set up their success to the Pac-12 title game, according to College Football News.

Utah had great success last season and went 10-4. They beat UCLA 44-24 in a home game. UCLA may have an advantage this year by hosting Utah, but they will need to play their best to beat the Utes.

The Utes have won 25 conference championships and the Bruins have won 17. UCLA has also won a national championship, so they have the potential to win as long as they play their best.

UCLA football best-case scenario

A best-case scenario for UCLA this season would be to make it to the conference championships. With their great returning starters and several new players who have accomplished a lot in their college careers, they have a legitimate shot at making it far if they utilize their potential.

Though they probably won’t win a national championship because their defense isn’t as developed as other teams, they could likely be on an upward curve from their past unsuccessful seasons.

With the number of close games they had last season, they could likely win 10 throughout the 2022 season.

UCLA football worst-case scenario

It’s likely that the defense could not improve considering it’s unpredictable right now. Their best defensive player isn’t returning, and though they’re expected to have incoming talent, it’s not clear how the defense will play together.

Making the championships would be difficult in this situation, and they could likely have another unsuccessful season. This would be difficult to face considering the breakthrough they had last season.

UCLA 2022 season prediction

Anything could happen with UCLA this season, but their defensive lineup seems to have enough potential for a best-case scenario to be more likely than worst-case scenario.

With several factors, including the returns of Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet, the extension of Kelly and several incoming defensive players with a lot of talent, UCLA will likely carry off the successful end of last season and do even better this season.

UCLA is seemingly going through a lot of growth and development with upgrades happening where they are much needed. The biggest concerns of the team are being addressed, and they’ll likely have a great season.

UCLA football 2022 bowl game prediction

College Football News has the Bruins projected to stay close to home in the postseason with their work having them in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl to face off with Boise State on Dec. 17.

Up next: No. 36: Florida State Seminoles

Other articles in this series:

  • No. 38 Minnesota
  • No. 39 Fresno State
  • No. 40 Kansas State
  • No. 41 South Carolina
  • No. 42 Boston College
  • No. 43 Louisville
  • No. 44 Auburn
  • No. 45 Appalachian State
  • No. 46 Coastal Carolina
  • No. 47 UCF
  • No. 48 Maryland
  • No. 49 Iowa State
  • No. 50 Nebraska
Next: College Football Rankings: FanSided Preseason Top 50

News Source: fansided.com

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Ira Winderman: Will Summer of FOMO get best of the Heat?

For the Miami Heat, the Summer of FOMO continues.

And when Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell are the potential prizes, the fear of missing out is understandable.

But at some point, it also becomes a matter of getting your house in order.

Yes, the Heat have it out there that they are content to move forward with a team that lost only 37-year-old P.J. Tucker from a roster that stood within one victory of the NBA Finals.

But there also likely are potential deals to be made if not for the FOMO factor.

The Indiana Pacers have made it eminently clear they are open for the business of change, with Myles Turner one of the few remaining pieces from the team’s previous incarnation.

The Atlanta Hawks have moved to even more of a backcourt-driving approach, perhaps to the consternation of John Collins.

The Sacramento Kings reshuffle could leave Harrison Barnes shuffled out.

The Charlotte Hornets might be poised to move on from the sometimes-available reality of Gordon Hayward.

And Jae Crowder has utilized social media in a way that certainly does not rule out relocation.

Against those backdrops stand the Heat with their three abundantly obvious trade mechanisms:

— The $16.9 million 2022-23 salary of Duncan Robinson, the ballast needed to balance trades under the salary-cap.

— The potential of Tyler Herro, a trade component that could entice suitors, but one on a ticking clock, with an extension agreement with the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year this offseason effectively removing him from the trade market.

— First-round picks. With the Heat currently able to deal two, potentially able to unlock a third, and capable of offering a fourth in the person of No. 27 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, who now is trade eligible one month after signing his rookie-scale contract.

All three of those potential components likely would be necessary in a package for Kevin Durant (and perhaps even more).

The three certainly could come into play for a possible deal for Mitchell.

But permutations involving two of the aforementioned elements might suffice in something less shiny, but something that still could provide a sturdy upgrade.

As for the trade elements: Robinson already has been replaced by the move to Max Strus in the starting lineup; Herro, at least in the short term, can be replaced by Victor Oladipo in the wing rotation should he be dealt for a big man; and the last time Pat Riley stood with fingers clenched to a first-round pick was when?

But much like Riley’s “one suit, one shirt, one tie” edict when the Heat traveled to Dallas for two potential closeout games of the 2006 NBA Finals against the Mavericks, there likely is one move of substance potentially still left for the Heat this offseason.

Thus, the FOMO.

Move now for an element that fills out the starting lineup at power forward, and trades of Durant and Michell elsewhere could produce a what-if hangover.

Of course, Durant and Mitchell might not be going anywhere. It’s not as if Sean Marks has said Durant has played his last game in Brooklyn, or Danny Ainge has said the same of Mitchell in Utah.

Crowder, in the final year of his contract, certainly could be an efficient one-year stopgap, similar to what Tucker ultimately proved to be.

Collins would provide the type of offensive spark missing in recent years at power forward for Erik Spoelstra, certainly more potential in that regard than going with Caleb Martin as the starting four.

Turner, even with his inconsistency, might stand as the perfect power balance to Bam Adebayo, with his 3-point stretchability and deterrence component.

As for Haywood or Barnes, it at least would address the void created by Tucker’s free-agency departure to the Philadelphia 76ers.

But make any of those moves, and no follow-up avenue for Durant or Mitchell.

No, nothing has to be done at the moment, in August.

And the Heat have shown with their every-game-matters approach that victories still can be stacked at the start of the season with mix-and-match lineups, even with a question mark at power forward.

But continuity also matters. And at some point, you have to get to who you are, what you are, and what you can be.

Or you play the waiting game.

Even if it means the Summer of FOMO turns into the Autumn of FOMO.

IN THE LANE

RESPECTS PAID: During his appearance at the charity golf outing for the foundation of Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, Heat point guard Kyle Lowry was asked about the legacy of NBA legend Bill Russell, who died at 88 last Sunday. “I think he meant a lot to the African-American community in general, that’s the most important thing,” Lowry said. “He was one of those guys who stood up and kind of pushed for African-Americans to have more freedom, more say and just to be more of everything. Basketball-wise? Just incredible. One of the greatest athletes, one of the greatest players to have ever played this game . . . player-coach, everything he was able to do. We wish he was still here because we want to show him more love, give him more flowers, and give him more everything.”

WAITING GAME: Just as the Heat are waiting on a decision on whether power forward Udonis Haslem will return for a 20th season with the team, the Golden State Warriors have the same open-door policy for a return by former Heat forward Andre Iguodala. “I leave Andre alone,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic about a potential return by Iguodala, 38. “He knows where we stand. If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him. The one thing we feel strongly about with Andre is we want to give him whatever space and time he needs to make a decision. I’m leaving him alone. Whenever he makes his decision is fine with us.” Iguodala left the Heat last summer for a return to Golden State, where he has won titles in 2015, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘22. He appeared in 31 games for the Warriors last season, fewer than half he played for the Heat in 2020-21.

BACK AT IT: Yet to play for the Los Angeles Lakers after leaving the Heat last August in free agency, Kendrick Nunn said he finally is over the knee bone bruise that kept him out all of last season. “I feel great. I feel a hundred percent, to be honest,” Nunn said in an interview with Spectrum SportsNet, “back to where I’m normally playing at a high level.” With the Lakers limited with their offseason moves by the salary cap, Nunn, who picked up his $5.2 million player option for 2022-23, said last season made him appreciate the game. “Last year was a learning process for me, to be honest,” he said. “I learned a lot, sitting on the sidelines just watching. The game slowed down a lot for me. I got to see things from a different perspective. So I definitely took a step, just with my ability to learn the game.” Nunn’s most recent action came in the Heat’s Game 4 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, when he scored 18 points.

STILL GOING: Nicknamed The Scavenger during his Heat tenure for the career he has cobbled together after going undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013 and then beginning his professional career in Hungary, Rodney McGruder is now locked in for a seventh NBA season after signing a guaranteed, one-year deal to return to the Detroit Pistons. McGruder’s winding road included being traded last season by the Pistons to the Denver Nuggets, seeing that deal voided when Bol Bol failed his Detroit physical, and then McGruder returning to close out the season with the Pistons. McGruder, 31, appeared in 51 games last season.

NUMBER

$15 million+. Estimated payout, per a league source, from the NBA pool for teams that remain below luxury-tax threshold during 2022-23. The Heat, after the expected signing of veteran forward Udonis Haslem, are expected to be $200,000 below the tax’s payroll threshold at the start of the season.

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