UCLA Football - Pre-Fall Camp Preview: Linebackers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 31: Jordan Zumwalt #35 of the UCLA Bruins is congratulated by teammates after he intercepted a pass against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park on December 31, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Summer just seems to be flying by. It does not feel that long ago that we were talking about spring football practices, and now the Bruins are just a couple of weeks from heading out to San Bernadino to begin fall camp. With the change in coaching staffs, the Bruins are of course making the change to a base 3-4 defense. AHMB noted in yesterday's preview of the Defensive Line some of the changes that we hope the move will lead to, particularly in terms of stopping the run.

Most of the personnel shifts took place during the spring, leaving the primary changes to the chart coming from movements into and away from the program. Since the end of spring practice, Jared Koster has transferred out of the program, while due to a torn ACL suffered during the Spring, Isaiah Bowens will sit out this season. We have also heard that Eli Ankou - who could end up playing at defensive end or possibly the hybrid linebacker role in the 3-4 - will greyshirt, not joining the program or enrolling at UCLA until next January.

With Larimore and Kendricks returning to start in the inside, Zumwalt sliding outside and Damien Holmes making the change to linebacker/hybrid, the starting group looks pretty solid heading toward the season. As part of his ESPN Pac-12 blog series ranking the various position groups throughout the conference, Ted Miller rated the Bruin linebacking squad 6th, describing them as "a solid crew that almost certainly will get better coaching this year."

After the jump, we'll take a little look at the depth chart heading into camp.

Here is our projected depth chart entering fall camp. It is based largely on the post-spring depth chart, while factoring in the departure of Koster and the addition of incoming freshmen, but also reflecting a bit of reshuffling reflected in the new UCLA Football roster.
OLB
ILB
ILB
OLB

Jordan Zumwalt

6-3, 235, Jr

Patrick Larimore

6-2, 250, RS Sr

Eric Kendricks

6-0, 230, So

Damien Holmes

6-2, 250, RS Sr

Keenan Graham

6-2, 247, RS Jr

Todd Golper

6-1, 235, RS Jr

Ryan Hofmeister

6-0, 225, RS Fr

Aaron Wallace

6-3, 230, RS Fr

Aramide Olaniyan

6-1, 210, RS So

Aaron Porter

6-1, 230, Fr

Mike Orloff

6-3, 222, RS Fr

Anthony Barr

6-4, 235, Jr

Ryan Medina

6-1, 230, RS Sr

Jeremy Castro

6-2, 250, Fr

Nate Iese

6-4, 240, Fr


Coach Mora told anybody who would listen that the post-spring depth chart was meaningless after the moment it was written. But it is the best place to start as the team completes its off-season program and heads back to organized football activity. The starting unit of Eric Kendricks, Patrick Larimore, Damien Holmes and Jordan Zumwalt looks stable barring injury.

Given their pedigree and potential, I am hopeful to see them in action this fall; with the greater reliance on and need for depth of linebackers in this year's 3-4 base D, we should see them get some meaningful playing time even with their current position on the depth chart.

As AHMB noted in his D-line preview yesterday, Jeremy Castro and Nate Iese have made it to Westwood and are listed at Linebacker on the official roster. While their specific position - inside or outside 'backer - is not yet specified, seeing them fill that hybrid LB/DE role is a reasonable thought. Whether or not they see any field this fall other than the new turf at Spaulding, I am plugging them both in on the outside with this in mind.

That concludes the pre-fall camp preview of the linebackers. Fire away with any additional thoughts, comments, and observations and be sure to check back in tomorrow for a preview of the defensive backs.

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