UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch enters NFL draft

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (74) is the third Bruin to declare for the NFL draft in less thank a week. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (74) is the third Bruin to declare for the NFL draft in less thank a week. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch has joined the exodus to the 2016 NFL draft, becoming the third Bruin to declare this week.

The three-year starter, who has played both guard and tackle, announced his decision to go pro on Thursday morning — joining nose tackle Kenny Clark and running back Paul Perkins in leaving the team this week. Benenoch likely projects as a late-round pick, but has physical upside at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds.

“I am excited to pursue my dream and I will never forget the memories I shared with my teammates and friends at UCLA,” Benenoch wrote on Twitter. “The bonds that I formed with my brothers will last a lifetime.”

Part of a lauded 2013 recruiting class, the Katy, Texas moved into the first-string lineup midway through his true freshman season. He leaves UCLA with 35 starts under his belt, playing mostly at right tackle. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Caleb Benenoch says UCLA OL still fights for respect

UCLA right tackle Caleb Benenoch talked about what the Bruins need to do against Stanford on Thursday, as well as the offensive line’s mindset five games into the season.

“We bear the brunt of the blame for a lot of things,” the junior said. “(Even) before I got here, the offensive line has kind of been the whipping boy. We have a chip on our shoulder, still. … We have to fight to earn the respect that we want, every single week. From the beginning of the season to now, nothing’s changed.”

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Caleb Benenoch thinks UCLA has the nation’s best offensive tackles

UCLA’s offensive line has given up 128 sacks over the last three seasons, but that doesn’t mean that the unit is hurting for confidence.

Just ask offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch, who said the line has made a 180-degree turn since the start of last season, when it gave up five sacks against Virginia. When the two teams kick off again this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl, Benenoch will be lining up on the other side of left tackle Conor McDermott — who didn’t move into the starting lineup until halfway through last season.

Asked how he and McDermott stack up against other tackles, Benenoch didn’t hesitate: “How good are we? We’re the best in the country. It’s simple.”

Benenoch was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a sophomore. McDermott earn any postseason accolades, but is arguably the Bruins’ best offensive lineman.

Neither one was among Phil Steele’s preseason All-American selections, which go four teams deep. Fourth-year starting center Jake Brendel was UCLA’s lone offensive representative on the list.

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VIDEO: Caleb Benenoch talks about state of UCLA offensive line

Junior Caleb Benenoch offered some interesting thoughts yesterday on the UCLA offensive line, including how he and his teammates might actually benefit from having a less mobile quarterback to protect.

A few other points from his media session:

— “Paul Perkins, in my opinion, is the best running back in the country. He does everything perfectly. There’s no gray area with him. It’s black and white. He just goes, every play.”

— Benenoch said he didn’t have a preference in the quarterback race, and that Jerry Neuheisel and “J-Chosen” are both making good plays in practice.

— Benenoch was mostly sidelined in spring camp recovering from a leg surgery, while offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was suspended until from March to June due to allegations of NCAA rules violations.

“It was kind of tough on both of us,” Benenoch said, “I’m happy he’s back. He’s our mentor. He’s like our big brother. He’s not that much older than we are. We have a lot of fun with him, he has a lot of fun with us. He pushes us to be the best that we can be, so I love having him back.”

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