UCLA links: Young linebackers ready to shine

UCLA linebacker Lokeni Toailoa (52) tackles Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk (3) during a college football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the UCLA Bruins on September 03, 2017 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After signing some of the top linebackers in the country in the class of 2016, UCLA was expecting its next stars to shine eventually and the first major test might come Saturday.

With senior Kenny Young‘s status unclear for UCLA’s game at Memphis and junior Josh Woods slated for a first-half suspension, the Bruins will turn to their young linebackers to carry the load.

UCLA may start a trio of underclassmen linebackers this week with sophomore Lokeni Toailoa in the middle, sophomore Krys Barnes on the weak side and redshirt freshman Breland Brandt at the Sam. Barnes had a team-high 12 tackles in last week’s game after he came off the bench and said he’s maintained the same mentality in practice, despite his growing role.

“We all prepare like starters,” Barnes said. “That’s one thing that Coach Scotty White tells us. When we’re out there on the practice field, prepare like you’re about to go in. That’s what we all do.”

More on Barnes and UCLA’s plan at linebacker

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