UCLA sends nine players to 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Nine former UCLA football players will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine later this month, by far the largest total of Jim Mora’s four-year tenure.

Linebacker Myles Jack, a likely first-round draft pick, leads a group that also includes: defensive tackle Kenny Clark; kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn; running back Paul Perkins; receivers Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte; and offensive linemen Jake Brendel, Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond. Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only college teams with more players set to appear at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with 14 and 10, respectively.

Defending national champion Alabama will also send nine players to the Feb. 23-29 event.

UCLA had five participants in each of the last two NFL combines, and six in 2013. Only one Bruin, tight end Cory Harkey, was invited to the 2012 combine.

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UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark declares for NFL draft

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) has announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL draft. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) has announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL draft. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark has declared for the 2016 NFL draft, announcing his decision on Monday afternoon to forgo his final season of eligibility.

The junior was the Bruins’ only All-Pac-12 first-team selection this year, and finished his final season second on the team with 75 tackles and six sacks. He recorded a career-high 11 tackles against Nebraska in Saturday’s loss in the Foster Farms Bowl.

“The last three years have been the best of my life,” Clark wrote on Twitter. “I am ready to take the next step forward and (am) excited to pursue my dream toward being the best player I can be in the NFL.”

Clark said last week that he received a second-round grade on his draft evaluation.

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks recently praised Clark’s upside, calling him an intriguing prospect who can supplement his run-stuffing skills with “sneaky pass-rush ability.”

To fill the void left by Clark, UCLA will likely lean on defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. The former five-star recruit was expected to partner with Clark to form one of of the top defensive line duos in the conference, but tore his ACL in September.

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Foster Farms Bowl roundup: Kene Orjioke decides to leave football

UCLA linebacker Kene Orjioke is set to make his final appearance as a Bruin, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Katie Meyers/UCLA Athletics)

UCLA linebacker Kene Orjioke is set to make his final appearance as a Bruin, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Katie Meyers/UCLA Athletics)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here’s a roundup of some of our UCLA coverage this week.

» UCLA linebacker Kene Orjioke explains why he decided to leave football a year early.
» Defensive tackle Kenny Clark talks about the NFL players he watches most to improve his game.
» Center Jake Brendel reflects on the bonds he made as a four-year starter at UCLA.
» Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. could present trouble for UCLA’s run defense.
» Offensive lineman Alex Redmond left the Bruins to declare for the NFL draft.

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VIDEO: UCLA DE Takk McKinley on potential offseason changes

UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley talks about how he’s tried to convince nose tackle Kenny Clark to stay for one more season (sandwiches), his plans for developing his game this offseason (working with Datone Jones), and how he feels about the Bruins’ loss to USC to end the regular season (who?).

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Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

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