Our Still-Too-Early UCLA Football Depth Chart Projection for the 2012 Season: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

Jordan Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks should have good season in Mora/Spano's 3-4 base D. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Back in February, we brought you a way too early look at the depth chart (this one for the defense) going into spring camp for the 2012 football season. In the next few days we will re-examine that depth chart and compare it to the post-spring depth chart that was released just recently.

Well even this new depth chart is very preliminary, as there is still another camp to go through in the fall and many of the players will [hopefully] train hard over the summer to make a move. Coach Mora is the first to point this out:

"I wouldn't put a lot into this depth chart," Mora said. "This depth chart to me is a piece of paper that as soon as we're done talking, I'm going to crumble up and throw in the trash. We wanted to give you something to work with."

Ummm...well, thanks Coach, we'll get to work then!

Furthermore, we still have some freshmen due to enroll, some of whom can affect this depth chart immediately, as listed by Coach Mora himself: defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, defensive back Ishmael Adams, wide receiver Jordan Payton, safety Taylor Lagace, offensive lineman Simon Goines and offensive lineman Carl Hulick.

And to top it all off, UCLA must cut seven scholarships by the time fall camp starts:

"We made this spring as tough as we could," Mora said. "It was kind of a fight or flight type of atmosphere. Who was willing to make the commitment? I still think there are a couple of guys that are half in and half out and we’ll have talks with them."

Mora has little choice but to trim he number of scholarship players on his roster. Currently, there are 69 players on scholarship with 23 scholarship freshman slated to arrive in the fall. That total of 92 puts the Bruins seven over the NCAA scholarship limit of 85.

Clearly, a lot of dominoes are yet to fall. That doesn't mean we can't obsess over every detail while waiting for September to come around.

Follow me after the jump for a look at changes in the Linebacker corps and the Defensive Backs.

Linebackers

This is how we had set out the depth chart in February (note that we include incoming freshmen):

OLB
ILB
ILB
OLB
Aramide Olaniyan
Patrick Larimore
Jordan Zumwalt
Eric Kendricks
Owamagbe Odighizuwa Isaiah Bowens
Aaron Porter
Aaron Wallace
Jeremy Castro
David Allen
Todd Golper
Anthony Barr
Ryan Hofmeister


Keenan Graham

After the spring game, the depth chart looks as such (without freshmen):

OLB
ILB
ILB
OLB
Jordan Zumwalt Patrick Larimore
Eric Kendricks Damien Holmes
Keenan Graham Jared Koster Ryan Hofmeister Aaron Wallace
Aramide Olaniyan Jason Stewart
Mike Orloff Anthony Barr
Ryan Medina Todd Golper

Although most of the starters remain as we projected, some were moved around. I find it interesting that Kendricks was moved inside and Zumwalt outside. Kendricks did really well last year and I thought he had good speed on the outside, while Zumwalt was a good tackler but sometimes out of position. Hopefully he can contain the edge. Interestingly, he and Graham are seemingly dead even as starters on the depth chart (where there is an "or" between them). As we had noted earlier, Damien Holmes was moved from the D-line to the OLB position, where he now heads the depth chart and is getting good reviews. Meanwhile, Owa was moved to the D-line where I hope he starts making some noise, given all the praise he has received from Coach Mora after a solid spring.

The loss of Isaiah Bowens for the year was a big blow, particularly at the ILB position were we look quite thin. Aaron Porter should step in as a backup, but hopefully a pro baseball team won't tempt him too much. He can always play at UCLA (I am guessing fans would be more forgiving of a LB playing two sports than a QB...but who knows). LB is probably one of the toughest positions to play as a Freshman, but Aaron projects as a potentially necessary backup in his first year.

Defensive Backs

Here is the depth chart from February (again including incoming freshmen):

CB SS FS CB
Aaron Hester Stan McKay
Tevin McDonald
Sheldon Price
Andrew Abbott
Taylor Lagace
Dalton Hilliard
Anthony Jefferson
Ishmael Adams
Anthony Thompson
Alex Mascarenas
Marcus Rios
Brandon Sermons

This is the updated depth chart (without freshmen):

CB SS FS CB
Aaron Hester Andrew Abbott Tevin McDonald
Sheldon Price
Brandon Sermons Dalton Hilliard Stan McKay Anthony Jefferson
Marcus Rios
Dylan Price Anthony Thompson Erick Zumwalt

With Ishmael Adams incoming, this is very much in flux, especially considering the offenses we will be playing in the Pac-12 and the need for multiple corners. Adams looks really good and will be a great addition on the field to counter the pass-crazy offenses in the conference. He'd better be in shape for the Wazzu game. He and Rios will very likely move up the chart.

Meanwhile, there are three injured safeties not listed: Alex Mascarenas, Dietrich Riley and Librado Barocio. I still think it's unlikely that Riley will play this season, but hopefully his neck surgery (similar to Peyton Manning's) will be a success and he can come back. Barocio is also out for the season, but Mascarenas should be back. Andrew Abbott is recovering from knee surgery and should be back, while Dalton Hilliard might play both ways (small chance, as he is far more needed on defense).

So there you have it, a quick update on Linebackers and Defensive Backs. Stay tuned for more on the other positions.

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