Tennessee Titans select Aaron Wallace in seventh round

Former UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace (right). (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Former UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace (right). (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Former UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the first pick in the seventh round (222nd overall).

He had 65 total tackles last season for the Bruins and led the team in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (7.0).

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UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace to play in East-West Shrine Game

UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace as accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23, giving him another chance to showcase his development as a senior.

Wallace had been a career reserve until this season, one in which he turned himself into the Bruins’ most productive pass rusher. He enters Saturday’s Foster Farms Bowl against Nebraska with a team-high seven sacks, a total that also ties him for third in the Pac-12 with Utah’s Kylie Fitts and Washington’s Travis Feeney. All but 1.5 of those sacks have come in the last six games.

On Tuesday, head coach Jim Mora described Wallace as arguably the team’s most improved and underrated player.

“He’s very quietly having a very good season,” Mora said. “You look at him and you go “That’s an NFL linebacker right there.” I think he’s got a future playing football. I really do.”

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker had originally been slated to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which will feature receiver Devin Fuller. UCLA center Jake Brendel is also slated to play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., though Mora said the senior lineman is an alternate for the Senior Bowl.

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Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

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VIDEO: LB Aaron Wallace reflects on Cal win and senior season

UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace first won a starting spot in 2013 as a redshirt sophomore — then promptly lost it to the freshman sensation that was Myles Jack. A year later, he started another game, but otherwise spent the year as a backup.

This season, the senior has five starts and a team-high four sacks, including 2.5 in last Thursday’s win over Cal. No other Bruin has more than two this season.

Asked what the biggest difference has been, Wallace said: “My confidence. When I’m up there, I feel more comfortable. I’m not second-guessing myself. I’m just playing fast.”

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UCLA spring camp position review: Linebackers

UCLA linebackers watch during the Bruins' "Spring Showcase" at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA linebackers watch during the Bruins’ “Spring Showcase” at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

A program vying for the title of “Linebacker U” is about to enter what could be a very interesting season.

Anthony Barr needed just one offseason to turn himself into a dynamic pass rusher, and helped anchor the defense in Jim Mora’s first two seasons. Eric Kendricks was quietly consistent throughout his career, but peaked last fall on his way to a Butkus Award and UCLA’s all-time tackles record. Can Myles Jack seize that leadership role as well as his two predecessors?

All signs point to yes. Jack has impressed from almost the first practice snaps he took as a Bruin, and has proven himself to be one of the best cover linebackers in college football. While his sophomore season didn’t fulfill the all-world expectations set by his incredible two-way debut in 2013, he still finished with 87 tackles and seven pass breakups. Continue reading

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