UCLA spring camp position review: Defensive line

Enjoy watching Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes while you can. Both could be signing NFL contracts by this time next year.

UCLA will enter this fall with arguably the best defensive line duo in the conference, a pair that last season combined for 108 tackles, including 11 for loss. All-Pac-12 nods aren’t the most accurate measures of talent and/or performance, but of the eight defensive linemen that made first or second team last fall, Clark is one of two that return. (The other is Oregon’s DeForest Buckner, who like Clark is making NFL mock drafts as a potential first-round pick.) Vanderdoes followed right behind as an honorable mention.

Clark in particular was vital to the Bruins’ run defense, and is about as stout a nose tackle as you can find in college football. Looking back at his impact the last two seasons, it’s incredible that UCLA was considering redshirting him back in August 2013, during his first camp in San Bernardino. There were several times last fall when opposing offenses noticeably directed the ball away from the middle, where he and Vanderdoes stood as imposing obstacles. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Josh Rosen takes first-team reps

— UCLA has given a different quarterback first-team reps in each of its four practices this spring. Monday was finally freshman Josh Rosen’s turn, and he looked like everything you’d expect out of a five-star recruit.

The freshman hit on five of his first six throws, with the one incompletion being a dropped pass by Thomas Duarte. But it was how those throws looked that was really impressive. A sampling of what he did during 11-on-11s: rolling out and zipping a ball about 15 yards to Duarte near the sideline early on his first drive; finding Tyler Scott open in the middle for what would have been a very long touchdown in a real game; airing a pass almost 40 yards downfield, again to Duarte.

For some reason, however, Rosen did look worse during one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens, missing more than a handful of passes.

Still, he is clearly the most talented player currently vying to become Brett Hundley’s successor. He’ll almost certainly take his lumps if he wins the job and starts against real competition, but so far in spring, he’s backing up the hype that followed him out of St. John Bosco.

— Mike Fafaul got second-team reps today, and actually showed a nice bit of oomph on some of his passes. Head coach Jim Mora said the staff will reevaluate the current structure of using two quarterbacks each practice both this Tuesday and early next week. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Angus McClure reviews UCLA defensive line’s debut

UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure talked about how impressive defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa looked in last weekend’s season opener at Virginia — but admitted he may have played the senior a little too much. He also reviewed the career debuts of true freshmen Matt Dickerson and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.

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UCLA notes: Receiver Mossi Johnson returns to practice after shoulder injury

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

» Mossi Johnson appears to have avoided the worst. After leaving Monday’s practice with a left shoulder injury, he returned on Tuesday to participate in some light individual drills.

Head coach Jim Mora said Johnson — a surprise performer at inside receiver this spring — was diagnosed with a second-degree AC sprain. Johnson will likely be held out of full contact for two weeks, but an earlier return isn’t out of the question either.

In addition to being an obvious physical setback, a serious injury could have dealt a heavy emotional blow to a player that had already grayshirted the 2013 season to rehab multiple torn knee ligaments.

Elsewhere on the injury front, true freshman linebacker Cameron Griffin left Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder injury of uncertain severity. Linebacker Zach Whitley has been somewhat limited the first two days due to cramps.

» Tuesday’s best play can be credited to Myles Jack, who snatched a remarkable interception during one-on-one drills. Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Defensive line

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. Over the next week, this blog will cover each of the Bruins’ position groups. Next up …

Defensive line

The star power is there. Just look at Owamagbe Odighizuwa, the former five-star recruit who doesn’t look like he’s missed a step after hip surgeries. Or Eddie Vanderdoes, another five-star defensive end who more than lived up to the billing as a Freshman All-American. Or Kenny Clark, the mammoth nose tackle whom defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich already called one of the team’s best players.

The unit’s only significant loss was defensive end Cassius Marsh, who finished second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and even chipped in a two-yard touchdown catch. Tackle Seali’i Epenesa and sack specialist Keenan Graham also graduated, but both saw their roles dwindle to varying degrees toward the end of the season. Continue reading

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