UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke out for season with torn ACL

UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, head coach Jim Mora confirmed on Thursday.

Once a standout in spring camp, Orjioke has played as a reserve after falling behind Deon Hollins and Aaron Wallace on the outside linebacker depth chart. The junior has eight tackles this season to go along with a quarterback hurry. He also contributes on special teams, blocking a punt last season that led to a touchdown by fullback Phillip Ruhl.

The Bruins will apply for a medical hardship waiver for Orjioke, who is still just 19 years old.

“It’s not a good deal,” Mora said. “I feel bad for him. I’ve talked to him. He’s in good spirits. He’ll work hard to get back as quickly as he can.”

JUCO transfer defensive end Takkarist McKinley and sophomore linebacker Cameron Judge, a special teams standout, could see more snaps in Orjioke’s stead.

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UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke to undergo knee procedure

UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke will have a procedure on right knee on Tuesday, said head coach Jim Mora.

The junior was on crutches and had his right knee heavily wrapped. Initially thought to be a bruise, the severity of Orjioke’s injury is still uncertain pending further medical examination. He has eight tackles this season in reserve action, including one for loss.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s just something minor,” Mora said. “Maybe he misses this game and he’s back next week.”

Starting offensive guard Alex Redmond (ankle) is still in a boot after spraining his ankle in the first half of UCLA’s win at Arizona State last Thursday, but Mora didn’t rule him out of playing against Utah this weekend. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Two linebacker spots still ‘wide open’ in Jeff Ulbrich’s defense

» UCLA doesn’t have a lot of question marks, but one position group that’s still unsettled are the linebackers.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called competition at outside linebacker (opposite Myles Jack) and inside linebacker (opposite Eric Kendricks) “wide open” — naming five candidates for the former and three for the latter.

Outside linebackers have shuffled up and down the depth chart this week, but on Friday, redshirt junior Aaron Wallace and sophomore Deon Hollins got more play than 19-year-old junior Kenny Orjioke. Wallace has gotten love from both Ulbrich and head coach Jim Mora this week, but he doesn’t look like he has the speed to be a great pass rusher. That’s an area that Hollins excels at, and he’s looked better than he did in spring.

The competition inside is crowded, but true freshman Kenny Young has been fun to watch. He’s not the same type of do-it-all stud that Myles Jack is, though his work ethic has sparked comparisons.

» After leaving Thursday’s practice following a hit to the head, linebacker Zach Whitley wore a neck brace on Friday. Not an encouraging sign, but it could have been precautionary. Continue reading

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Five players to watch during UCLA training camp

UCLA football is officially back.

In the Daily News this past weekend, I covered a few of the questions that UCLA answered in spring and will look to answer starting today.

With training camp kicking off at Cal State San Bernardino at 3 p.m., here are five players to watch out for through the next couple of weeks.

Linebacker Kenny Orjioke, Jr., 6-4, 235

Head coach Jim Mora said the prime objective for UCLA’s defense will be replacing the pass-rushing void left by Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr. The latter’s most natural successor is Orjioke.

Still just 19 years old, the junior has off-the-charts athleticism but hasn’t quite turned that into on-the-field stardom. That started to change this past spring, when he started blowing past blockers on a more regular basis. He’ll be fun to watch if he keeps it up this fall.

Offensive tackle Simon Goines, Jr., 6-7, 330 Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Linebackers

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. This blog will cover the status of each position group moving forward. Next up …

Linebackers

Myles Jack is already UCLA’s all-everything superstar, and did nothing this spring to suggest that his sophomore effort will far short of the already sky-high expectations. He continued to excel in coverage, and will play behind the ball when the team deploys a nickel formation. After finishing with just one sack last season, he’s also spent extra time focusing on his pass rushing moves.

He won’t practice at running back until the season starts, but that only gives him more time to cement his role as the Bruins’ defensive leader.

The question marks facing the team in its post-Anthony Barr era lie elsewhere. Continue reading

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