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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Nose tackle Kenny Clark talks first start


Freshman Kenny Clark earned his first start at nose tackle in Saturday’s 42-14 loss at No. 2 Oregon, beating out senior Seali’i Epenesa. Head coach Jim Mora wasn’t sure if the change would be permanent, but Clark’s move up the depth chart hasn’t resulted in a big uptick in reps yet.

“We ran a lot of different packages this game,” Clark said. “I think I got the same amount of snaps I got any other game. I think this (upcoming) game we’ll probably be running more of our base packages, and I’ll probably be playing a lot more.”

– You can also read more about Clark’s wrestling background here.

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Defensive line coach Angus McClure likes multi-sport athletes

Nose tackle Kenny Clark is one true freshman who could see an uptick in reps at Stanford. Given the Cardinals’ use of jumbo offensive line sets, UCLA will likely want to plug the middle of its defense with a 6-foot-2, 305-pound former wrestler.

My story this week detailed how the former CIF champion has transferred his wrestling background into football. It certainly didn’t hurt his recruitment, drawing the attention of Bruins defensive line coach Angus McClure:

“The techniques I teach, especially with nose guards having their weight on their in-step, being flat-footed, playing with great leverage — he learned a lot of that in wrestling. Continue reading

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