UCLA’s Jake Brendel makes Pac-12 All-Academic first team (again!)

UCLA center Jake Brendel made his fourth appearance on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team, becoming the 10th player in conference history to do so. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel made his fourth appearance on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team, becoming the 10th conference player to do so. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel was named to the Pac-12’s All-Academic first team on Tuesday, earning the honor for the fourth straight year.

No football player in the conference has done that since Oregon State linebacker Cameron Collins, who accomplished the same feat in 2011. Only eight others in league history have ever pulled it off.

Brendel, a redshirt senior, has a 3.47 GPA in economics. He also holds the UCLA record with 50 career starts.

The Bruins were represented on the All-Academic second team by sophomore defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (3.16 GPA, political science). UCLA’s honorable mentions were tight end Colby Cyburt, fullback Taylor Lagace, longsnapper Christopher Longo, defensive back Dylan Luther, and quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.

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UCLA will use two players to replace Eddie Vanderdoes

UCLA defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (99) will be one of the two players expected to try and replace Eddie Vanderdoes. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (99) will be one of the two players expected to try and replace Eddie Vanderdoes. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

After losing defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes to a torn ACL, UCLA will attempt to fill the void with two players: redshirt junior Eli Ankou and sophomore Matt Dickerson.

“It’s going to be hard to replace Eddie,” said defensive line coach Angus McClure. “Obviously we all know the type of player he is, the type of force he can be.”

Still, McClure expressed a bit of optimism. Ankou, he said, is one of the stronger guys on the team, and played well in his 20-plus snaps in UCLA’s 34-16 win over Virginia on Saturday. And whereas Ankou is more a of a “bull-rusher,” Dickerson will provide more speed, length and pass rush to the position. Continue reading

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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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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 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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