Attrition has left rising sophomore Randall Goforth as UCLA’s most experienced defensive back.
Tevin McDonald, who had 79 tackles last season, is transferring to Eastern Washington after being dismissed prior to spring camp. Dietrich Riley, who had 36 tackles through eight games in 2011, is unavailable too; already working back from a neck injury, a separated shoulder has left him on the exercise bike.
So here’s Goforth, whose 40 tackles as a freshman were overshadowed by a Twitter impersonator that trash-talked USC players using his name. The 5-foot-10 safety had his moments last season, but ended the campaign on a down note — getting burned by Baylor’s tailbacks and receivers in a 49-26 Holiday Bowl loss.
This spring, head coach Jim Mora said Goforth has a much greater command of the defense, praising his assertiveness in making calls.
“He’s playing with a lot more confidence,” Mora said. “I really believe that experience, even though it wasn’t always positive last year — he struggled in that Baylor game. But I think he went back and he really learned from it.”
Added Goforth, who said he’s up from 175 pounds to 193: “All offseason, I was just getting bigger, getting stronger, getting faster so I can more physical on the field.”
» Replacing tight end/Y-receiver Joseph Fauria as a red-zone threat won’t be easy. No. 1 receiver Shaq Evans figures to get more looks there, as will sophomore Jordan Payton — who has had a solid if not spectacular camp so far.
Also key will be the performance of Darius Bell, whom Mora called one of last season’s most underrated Bruins. Continue reading