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2017 UCLA Football Fall Preview: Keeping the Tradition of Linebacker U Alive

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With some key losses to the linebacking corps, can the 2017 unit measure up, or even raise the bar?

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Even though UCLA had a losing 2016 season, there were definitely bright spots on defense.

Jayon Brown led team with a total of 120 tackles and three interceptions and was UCLA’s biggest weapon in the linebacker corps. Additionally, he led the linebackers with 2.5 sacks (remember, almost half of the team’s sacks last year came from Takkarist McKinley). He will be taking his talent to the Tennessee Titans this year and will definitely be missed.

Kenny Young also had a great year, with 90 tackles and an interception of his own, and he is currently on the watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Butkus Award. He is returning as the senior leader of the linebackers and seems ready to lead this unit to success. He should fill Jayon Brown’s shoes and then some.

I’d expect this group to be extremely stable and strong this year. There aren’t very many new faces, so most of the players are familiar with the defense and will transition nicely into 2017.

Personnel Changes

Who’s out: Jayon Brown, Cameron Judge, Isaako Savaiinaea

Who’s New: Donovan Williams, Rahyme Johnson

Note that Mique Juarez is back with the team and fully participating.

At this point, all linebackers are healthy and ready for Fall camp.

Here is the current linebacker roster:

2017 UCLA Football Linebackers

No. Name Height Weight Year
No. Name Height Weight Year
2 Josh Woods 6-2 240 Jr.
14 Krys Barnes 6-2 250 So.
20 Leni Toailoa 6-1 230 R-Fr.
32 Mique Juarez 6-2 255 R-Fr.
40 Josh Chambers 6-0 210 R-Fr.
42 Kenny Young 6-1 240 Sr.
46 Donovan Williams 5-11 225 Fr.
52 Lokeni Toailoa 6-2 255 So.
55 Breland Brandt 6-4 230 R-Fr.

With only one true freshman, this unit has experience and leadership that will bring stability to the defense.

Here is a projected depth chart, even though Mora isn’t nearly as into them as we are:

2017 UCLA Football Linebackers Projected Depth Chart

Strong OLB Middle LB Weak OLB
Strong OLB Middle LB Weak OLB
Breland Brandt Kenny Young Josh Woods
Mique Juarez Lokeni Toailoa Krys Barnes
Josh Chambers Donovan Williams Leni Toailoa

Of course, these things are always fluid. However, I’d say that starters are pretty set, and as the leader of this unit, Young will definitely be lining up in the middle.

Only 35 more days!

Go Bruins!