Jaleel Wadood included on Jim Thorpe Award Watch List

Safety Jaleel Wadood was included on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award. (MICAH ESCAMILLA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

UCLA safety Jaleel Wadood earned a spot on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List for the second straight year Friday as the senior was included in the preliminary 45-man group vying for the title as the nation’s top defensive back.

The St. John Bosco alum led the UCLA secondary in tackles last year with 77, which ranked third on the team, and was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 by the conference’s coaches. The Bruins gave up only 12 touchdown passes last season, the fewest in the Pac-12. Wadood is one of two returning starters in the secondary for UCLA, along with cornerback Nate Meadors.

A list of the Bruins included on watch lists so far:

  • Josh Rosen (Maxwell — best college player)
  • Kenny Young (Bednarik — best defensive player)
  • Scott Quessenberry (Rimington — best center; Outland — best interior lineman)
  • Austin Roberts (Mackey — best tight end)
  • Jaleel Wadood (Thorpe — best defensive back)
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Video: Kenny Young and Jaleel Wadood

Linebacker Kenny Young talks about his goals for spring practice, what it’s like seeing Mique Juarez back on the field and how he helps Octavius Spencer learn the linebacker position.

Safety Jaleel Wadood talks about stepping up into a leadership position in the secondary, mentoring Darnay Holmes and the story behind his new number. Continue reading “Video: Kenny Young and Jaleel Wadood” »

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By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 9 days

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 receiving touchdowns scored by Thomas Duarte last year, which led the team

9 RETURNING STARTERS ON DEFENSE

UCLA sent two big stars on defense to the NFL, but the Bruins are set to reload quickly with nine returning starters.

Eddie Vanderdoes replaces first-round pick Kenny Clark in the starting lineup after a season-ending knee injury last year. Vanderdoes had never missed a game in his college career prior to his injury and made 19 combined starts during his first two years with the Bruins.

Cameron Judge is set to take a starting outside linebacker role opposite Jayon Brown. Judge, a senior, played in 12 games last season and made one start while Myles Jack left school early to prepare for the NFL Draft and recover from a meniscus injury.

Deon Hollins started 12 games last season as an outside linebacker in UCLA’s 3-4 front, but with the team’s switch to a 4-3, defensive end Matt Dickerson worked mostly with the No. 1 unit during training camp. Dickerson played in every game last year and made one start, against Washington State.

The Bruins could have 10 (or possibly 11) upperclassmen starting on defense:

  • Defensive line: Takkarist McKinley (Sr.), Eli Ankou (R-Sr.), Vanderdoes (R-Jr.), Dickerson (Jr.)
  • Linebackers: Brown (Sr.), Kenny Young (Jr.) or Isaako Savaiinaea (Sr.), Judge (Sr.)
  • Defensive backs: Fabian Moreau (Sr.), Randall Goforth (R-Sr.), Jaleel Wadood (Jr.), Marcus Rios (R-Sr.) or Nate Meadors (So.)

The group’s experience is “golden,” Vanderdoes said.

“That’s the biggest asset we have right now,” he continued. “We’ve been through everything. … We’ve experienced big losses, small losses, everything, so I don’t think anything can faze us at this point. We’ve seen it all, we’ve experienced it all. We know what it’s like.”

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