Receiver Theo Howard among 2016 signees enrolled at UCLA

UCLA has lost five players as early entries into the 2016 NFL draft, but are set to welcome just as many newcomers this week.

Five 2016 recruits have enrolled as Bruins, according to the UCLA Registrar: receiver Theo Howard, linebacker Breland Brandt, linebacker Lokeni Toailoa, defensive back Leni Toailoa, and kicker JJ Molson.

Monday is the first day of classes for UCLA’s winter quarter. Molson’s arrival in Westwood will be delayed by a week, due to his participation in the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 9 in San Antonio.

Quarterback Matt Lynch, receiver Demetric Felton and defensive tackle Nick Terry have also signed financial aid agreements with UCLA, but are not yet listed on the registrar.

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UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch enters NFL draft

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (74) is the third Bruin to declare for the NFL draft in less thank a week. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (74) is the third Bruin to declare for the NFL draft in less thank a week. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch has joined the exodus to the 2016 NFL draft, becoming the third Bruin to declare this week.

The three-year starter, who has played both guard and tackle, announced his decision to go pro on Thursday morning — joining nose tackle Kenny Clark and running back Paul Perkins in leaving the team this week. Benenoch likely projects as a late-round pick, but has physical upside at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds.

“I am excited to pursue my dream and I will never forget the memories I shared with my teammates and friends at UCLA,” Benenoch wrote on Twitter. “The bonds that I formed with my brothers will last a lifetime.”

Part of a lauded 2013 recruiting class, the Katy, Texas moved into the first-string lineup midway through his true freshman season. He leaves UCLA with 35 starts under his belt, playing mostly at right tackle. Continue reading

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UCLA running back Paul Perkins declares for NFL draft

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) will enter the 2016 NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) will enter the 2016 NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA’s Paul Perkins has declared for the 2016 NFL draft, leaving the Bruins as one of the most productive running backs in school history.

Perkins announced his decision on Tuesday afternoon, one day after nose tackle Kenny Clark did the same. The former led the Pac-12 in rushing as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, and followed that performance with a 1,343-yard season on the ground. He finished as one of the top-five rushers in the conference despite being slowed by a knee injury midseason.

“Although I am excited about leaving,” Perkins wrote on Twitter, “my heart feels bittersweet to say goodbye. It has been an amazing journey. I have made many great friends and will take with me great memories.”

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Arizona native ran for 3,491 yards in his career, the third-highest total in school history behind Gaston Green (3,731) and Johnathan Franklin (4,403).

To replace him, UCLA will likely use some combination of Nate Starks, who ran for 320 yard and five touchdowns in his second collegiate season, or soon-to-be sophomores Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. The former was second on the team with 404 rushing yards, but racked up most of his numbers late in games.

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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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Rick Neuheisel: UCLA football held back by lack of nutrition facility

Jim Thompson / SportsBronze.com

Jim Thompson / SportsBronze.com

After UCLA’s season-ending loss to Nebraska on Saturday in the Foster Farms Bowl, Jim Mora stressed the Bruins’ need to self-reflect — to analyze everything from its practice structure to strength and conditioning.

“You just tear it apart,” he said.

The fourth-year head coach particularly harped on UCLA’s need to get bigger and stronger, so as to not get “pushed around” by power teams such as the Huskers and Stanford. His predecessor doesn’t think that will come easy.

On SiriusXM College Sports Nation today, former Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel said that the fact that the program still doesn’t have a dedicated nutrition facility will hamper its efforts to maintain size throughout the course of the season.

“UCLA is built now to handle spread offenses,” Neuheisel said. “They are three-down front, they are going to accordion out and play the Oregons and Arizona States and Arizonas. But the size issues are still going to be there for UCLA. And it gets back to the one thing that was widely out of whack for my program there as compared to the program across town, USC, which is the nutrition.”

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