As first shared here this afternoon by Jerry Neu's Jockstrap, reports have surfaced today that two players will be leaving the UCLA Football program - redshirt freshman S/LB Tyler Foreman, and true freshman LB Zach Whitley.
LA Times sportswriter Eric Sondheimer shared this evening that Tyler Foreman has decided to leave UCLA.
Former Crespi defensive back Tyler Foreman is leaving UCLA, according to http://t.co/p2sukn3U4s.— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) December 5, 2014
Tyler was one of the four 4*/5* defensive back recruits in the 2013 incoming class. After missing his freshman season due to a shoulder injury, he put some time in at the hybrid linebacker spot heading into this season but did not see extensive playing time in 2014.
Zach's situation is a little unclear, with 24/7 sports reporting that Whitley was dismissed from the team today due to an unspecified "internal team issue".
As arguably the biggest get for UCLA Football in the 2014 recruiting class - with Adrian Klemm, Jeff Ulbrich and Coach Mora working to break his verbal commitment to Nick Saban and Alabama - the freshman inside linebacker enrolled early. After suffering a concussion during fall camp, he fell behind fellow frosh LB Kenny Young but looked good when on the field, and was expected to challenge for Eric Kendricks' place at the middle of the Bruin Defense next fall.
Losing two guys with the talent - at least the projected talent - of Tyler and Zach can never be spun as a net positive for a team, but the short term impact should be minimal, and with the proper recruiting to compensate even the longer term impact of losing these underclassmen can be blunted. With Anthony Jefferson being the only main contributor from this season's secondary expected to leave Westwood after the bowl game (and Randall Goforth returning from an injury redshirt), the team should not take much of a hit next fall.
Zach's dismissal hurts a little more, as he appeared to have a good chance to start next fall, at least playing a significant role in the rotation. The team does have options at LB for 2015 - having Myles Jack and Kenny Young lined up in starting roles gives us a good start. But with Whitley gone, Ulbrich may have to tweak the defense a bit - moving Jack to the inside and hoping that Deon Hollins or Kenny Orjioke can step up in the later portion of their Bruin careers to fill a starting role. The timing of his departure from the program, following a bad week on the field as well as in recruiting - with Mora and Ulbrich losing the recruiting battle for 4/5-star Utah LB Osa Masina to Sark and Southern Cal.
We will keep an eye out for any updates on what led to these two leaving the program and where they will end up.