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2018 UCLA Football Fall Preview: Most of the Bruin Linebackers Return

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There aren’t many changes to the UCLA linebackers other than the linebackers coaches and the switch to a 3-4 defense.

California v UCLA
Jaelan Phillips will look to continue harassing opposing quarterbacks this season as an outside linebacker.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Having explored what the defensive line will look like, let’s move a little deeper on the field and take a look at this year’s linebacking corps. The biggest difference this year will be that the Bruins are back to a 3-4 defense after switching to a 4-3 under then-defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. The Mora era was characterized by tough linebackers in guys like Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Myles Jack.

New linebackers coach Don Pellum has over 25 years of experience coaching the position and he will work with Roy Manning who will work with the outside linebackers, in addition to coaching special teams. Jaelan Phillips will technically shift positions from the defensive line to outside linebacker, but his role will still be that of an edge rusher. Expect a more menacing role for all the linebackers as Kelly, Azzinaro and Pellum seems to like to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Personnel Changes

Who’s Gone: The Bruins only lost four linebackers a Tfter last year. We all know Kenny Young graduated and, with that, the #42 is retired from UCLA Football in honor of Jackie Robinson, even though Robinson actually wore #28 as a Bruin. Brandon Burton and DeChaun Holiday are transferring. Xan Cuevas was a redshirt junior last season who participated in Senior Day festivities. So, it sounds like he graduated.

Who’s New: There are only four new linebackers on the roster this year. There are two JC transfers in Tyree Thompson and Je’Vari Anderson while there are two freshmen in Bo Calvert and Elijah Wade. Wade comes in and, at 6’5” tall and weighing 255 pounds, he is officially UCLA’s biggest linebacker on the roster. His size could mean that Wade may see more action this season than Calvert, but the experience of the two transfers could result in those guys seeing the most action of the newcomers.

Here’s the complete linebacker roster.

2018 UCLA Football Linebacker Roster

# Player name Height Weight Year
# Player name Height Weight Year
2 Josh Woods 6-2 235 Sr.
11 Keisean Lucier-South 6-4 235 R-Jr.
12 Rahyme Johnson 6-4 230 So.
14 Krys Barnes 6-1 235 Jr.
15 Jaelan Phillips 6-5 245 So.
25 Tyree Thompson 6-2 235 R-Jr.
26 Leni Toailoa 6-0 225 R-So.
32 Mique Juarez 6-2 245 R-So.
40 Bo Calvert 6-3 235 Fr.
41 Jayce Smalley 6-0 226 R-Fr.
43 Je'Vari Anderson 5-11 229 Jr.
46 Donovan Williams 5-10 215 R-Fr.
48 Winston Anawalt 5-11 205 R-Fr.
52 Lokeni Toailoa 6-1 240 Jr.
99 Elijah Wade 6-5 255 Fr.

Projected Depth Chart

As I mentioned in the defensive line preview, I’m not a big fan of projected depth charts because they aren’t always easy to predict who will be where, but here’s what my projected 2-deep linebacker depth chart.

2018 Linebacker 2-Deep Projected Depth Chart

OLB ILB ILB OLB
OLB ILB ILB OLB
Keisean Lucier-South Krys Barnes Josh Woods Jaelan Phillips
Rahyme Johnson Tyree Thompson Je'Vari Anderson Mique Juarez

I think the starters here are probably set. I do think there is some potential for surprise when it comes to the backups as Fall Camp progresses.


Go Bruins!!!