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.