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Stories from Bruin Defense

The defense has been dominating (the typically hapless Dorrell) offense this spring. So its no surprise some of the guys from that unit are making impressions during last few weeks. Chris Horton is battling through a wrist injury:

UCLA's senior strong safety and resident big hitter is feeling the limitations of surgery that took place nearly 20 months ago, and will live those limitations forever.

The simple task of bending his hand downward or back at a 90-degree angle, or even 45degrees, is not possible.

But the always upbeat Horton chooses smiles about being able bend his wrist more than 10degrees in either direction.

"When the doctor tells you your wrist is a career-threatening injury, and I made it past the stage the doctors said I wouldn't make it past because I don't have to wear that cast anymore, I'm happy," Horton said. "As long as I'm out on the field, I'm happy.

Horton injured the wrist during training camp in August 2005 when he landed violently on the ground, with his right wrist pinned underneath. He underwent surgery and had pins inserted into his wrist.

He returned last season to lead the Bruins with 95 tackles, and is one of the top NFL prospects on UCLA's defense.

"I feel like I put the work in and I come out (to practice) every day and I go to work," Horton said. "I try to show the guys I'm not just working myself. I'm working to win a championship. That's pretty much what I want to do for this team, and myself, I want to go out there and make an impression on people."
Again it is great to hear one of the key leaders from our defense talking about a championship. Chris is not making excuses for his limitations and that is refreshing to hear.

Another player who is apparently working hard to emerge as a multi dimensional factor in our defensive unit is backup MLB Kyle Bosworth:
Bosworth sits behind Christian Taylor on the depth chart at middle linebacker, but there is a little sense of urgency for him to grow into the position.

"He's the quarterback on defense," Coach Karl Dorrell said.

Bosworth played in all 13 of the Bruins' games last season but mostly on special teams. He was one of the players Dorrell said he expected to "take a big step" in the spring and "has done a pretty good job of positioning players on defense."

Bosworth, though, doesn't look at his role as being just an understudy to Taylor.

"I'm not just learning my linebacker spot, I'm learning every linebacker and defensive line position," said Bosworth, whose twin brother Korey moved to defensive end this spring.

"Coach Walker wants guys to be versatile. If someone goes down, I can step in at that spot."
Again this is good stuff. Walker in the same report talked about how he expects his defensive players to step should a starter get injured, which means he definitely will not be able to use injuries as an excuse for next season.

There is going to be a lot of pressure on Bruin defense to show that it can be successful against teams playing college spread offense, the same way it was against teams playing pro-set defense. The efforts of players like Horton and Boston are going to be huge keys for that success.