UCLA’s Ellis McCarthy announces early entry into NFL draft

UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy warms up before the Bruins' 17-7 win against Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 1, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy warms up before the Bruins’ 17-7 win against Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 1, 2014.
(Keith Birmingham/Staff)

In a surprise move, UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy announced on Tuesday his decision to enter the NFL draft.

The junior, who did not start in any games this season, is the only Bruin to go pro early besides quarterback Brett Hundley — who had announced his own intentions to leave a full year ago.

“After careful consideration and prayer, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2015 NFL Draft,” McCarthy said in a statement he released on Twitter. “This was an extremely difficult decision but it is best for my family and myself. I will always be grateful for the opportunities the Bruin Nation has presented to me academically and athletically.”

A five-star recruit in 2012, McCarthy never fulfilled the hype that accompanied him out of Monrovia (Calif.) High, located less than 10 miles east of the Rose Bowl. Once rated the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country and a top-25 national prospect by Rivals.com, McCarthy leaves UCLA with just eight career starts — all of which came in 2013.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, McCarthy struggled with multiple knee injuries and saw his yo-yoing weight become a common point of discussion each offseason. He made 10 tackles as a true freshman, then followed up with 31 tackles as a sophomore, including two for loss. That year, he was named UCLA’s most improved player on defense and an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

As a junior, McCarthy was stuck in a reserve role behind sophomores Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes. An all-conference second-team mention, Clark was a defensive anchor at nose tackle who notched 58 tackles, sixth on the team. He and Vanderdoes combined to make 11 tackles for loss.

McCarthy had 21 tackles and three sacks in what turned out to be his final collegiate season. His decision to enter the NFL draft, first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Rand Getlin, will hurt the Bruins’ depth on the defensive line, which loses senior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

  • Cliff Sakata

    Doesn’t seem to make much sense but best of luck to him.

  • Mark

    He’s in for a big time disappointment come draft day. As in, he won’t be drafted

  • Laker Rod

    Wow. What a dissappointment. This is why I promote redshirting. The bottom line is not many players leave after their redshirt sophomore year. Many leave after their true junior or redshirt junior year.

    • LTEfan

      There is risk either way, but at least not redshirting assured that he would actually play 3 seasons at UCLA rather than 2.

      • Laker Rod

        You seriously believe he would have left after his redshirt sophomore year. Come on. Even Brett Hundley returned for his redshirt junior year. We always have Tommy Maddox to fall back on to show what a mistake it is to leave after your redshirt sophomore year.

  • CaliGrown

    I believe he saw not starting next season could hurt his draft stock even more. He probably received some decent draft feedback with his size and potential at the position. Didn’t perform to 5-star expectations but he will still get drafted. He must up his work ethic and dedication if he wants to stay in the league. Good luck big Ellis do work !

  • ScottWolfSniffsHisOwnFarts

    Auuuuwwwooooo!!! So I guess never playing football again is better than being stuck at public school?

  • jameskatt

    For Ellis, probably this year is the best chance he has of getting into the NFL. He is healthy. He has awards. He showed improvement.

    With his fragile health, he can easily blow it next year by getting injured. So this year is it.

    Good luck to him. The NFL is harsh and difficult to enter.

    • Richard

      Does seem his fitness is a HUGE battle for him and he may feel it might deteriorate so might as well get paid before the “inevitable” ????! #FYou Josh Smith. AND, it is quite poss that Ainu Taua (and Ulu-Perry if he’s switched to NG) would take his minutes in 2015. Good Luck to him and God Bless

  • Fred Sampson

    Poor fella just made the worst decision of his life, and probably won’t get drafted at all .

  • 92104bruinfan

    I was expecting this guy to be an absolute house wrecker up front when he came on board. Given the NFL experience of Mora, Klemm, and other coaches, I’m sure he was well informed of what he will need to accomplish to make it at the next level. Sorry it didn’t work out at UCLA as well as everyone would have liked but best wishes to him as he follows his dreams. Go Bruins!

  • EncinitasBruin

    Good luck, Ellis. Best of luck on draft day.