With the Super Bowl just a couple of hours away its now time to count down the former UCLA stars who have managed to play professionally. Since UCLA has only two players this year, we’ll also look at the former Bruins who were tantalizingly close to playing in this year’s Super Bowl.
Players who were close
The Patriots spent their sixth round draft pick last year on UCLA tackle Conor McDermott but dropped McDermott while cutting their roster. McDermott was picked up by and now plays for the Buffalo Bills.
The Jaguars and the Vikings, each conference’s runner up, both have several UCLA players as well (three and four respectively). The most notable are Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, who finished the 2017 regular season with 75 tackles and 1 sack, and Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, who finished the 2017 regular season with 90 tackles and 2 sacks. Other members of the Vikings who played at UCLA include Kai Forbath, Eric Kendricks, and Kevin McDermott while other members of the Jaguars include Eli Ankou and Marcedes Lewis.
Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Son of Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, Slater played multiple positions for UCLA. Initially a reserve wide receiver, he switched to a special teams as a Sophomore where his speed helped him become a strong tackler on kickoffs. He found his niche as a Junior when he became a star kick returner, averaging 29.0 yards per return and returning three kicks for touchdowns.
Slater was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the New England Patriots. Slater was the Patriot’s main returner for two seasons (averaged 19.3 yards per return with a long of 35) before being demoted. Despite this he has remained a consistent facet of the Patriot’s special teams, and this season he earned his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.
Randall Goforth, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles’ Randall Goforth, considered the No. 25 cornerback coming out of high school, Goforth impressed Bruins’ coaches greatly and earned the starting safety position as a true Freshman. Despite an injury as a Junior Goforth continued a strong career at UCLA, and when he left UCLA in 2016 he had deflected 33 passes and amassed 10 interceptions.
Goforth was an undrafted free agent going into the 2017 season. He signed with the Eagles but saw no action in 2017 because of a torn ACL. Unfortunately, he will not play today as he has been on Injured Reserve all season.
I’d like to remind everyone before this article is over that for the second consecutive year we have twice as many players in the Super Bowl as Southern Cal.