Impact of Recruiting Class: Defense

After breaking down the impact of the incoming offensive players on the depth chart, we turn our attention to the incoming defensive recruits...

With the 2014 recruiting class in the books, we've decided to take a look at how the class might impact the depth chart for next year. Up next, we take a look at the defensive recruits.


Defensive Line

Incoming Players:
Ainuu Taua
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
Matt Dickerson

It's safe to say that this is the deepest that UCLA has been along the defensive line in quite a long while. When looking at the depth chart, it's pretty apparent that UCLA has the luxury, finally, of giving younger defensive linemen time to develop. While we could see any and all of Ainuu Taua, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and Matt Dickerson competing for early playing time, there are plenty of talented bodies ahead of them. We know that Angus McClure likes to use an eight man rotation along the defensive line, and will mix and match personnel depending on the formation, so there's room for the freshmen to make an impact. Based off what we've seen, we'd say the likeliest of the three to compete early would be Taua and Dickerson, because they are both probably closer to physically ready than Tuioti-Mariner, who probably would benefit from a year of strength training. Dickerson has the frame to play both inside and out, while Taua could play early as a pass rush specialist from inside, in somewhat of the same role Keenan Graham played this year. Taua has good quickness and excellent pass rush skills for an inside player. With Dickerson, much will depend on how healthy his back is heading into fall camp, after he missed much of his senior season with a back injury.

Eddie Vanderdoes.
Note: unlike most of these depth charts, this one doesn't really give you an accurate idea of how often any player will play. Because of the variety of fronts UCLA utilizes, and the variety of different personnel groupings, any of the top four or five linemen could play a relatively equal number of snaps. The four-man group of Vanderdoes, Clark, Odighizuwa, and McCarthy can all effectively be called starters.

Defensive End
Eddie Vanderdoes (6'4, 305) SO
Matt Dickerson (6'5, 285) FR
Ian Taubler (6'4, 257) RS SO

Nose Tackle
Kenny Clark (6'2, 305) SO
Eli Ankou (6'3, 290) RS SO
Ainuu Taua (6'0, 290) FR

Defensive End
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6'3, 268) RS SR OR
Ellis McCarthy (6'4, 330) JR
Kylie Fitts (6'4, 270) SO
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (6'4, 260) FR


Linebackers

Incoming Players:
Cameron Griffin
Dwight Williams
Kenny Young
Zach Whitley

UCLA stocked up on linebackers again in 2014 after pulling in a pretty solid class of players in 2013 as well. With two open starting spots, it's going to be very interesting to see how the mixing and matching goes. From what we've heard, Kenny Orjioke probably has the inside track at the outside linebacker position vacated by Anthony Barr (the spot that likely would have been Rashaan Evans' for the taking had he committed). At the middle linebacker spot opposite Eric Kendricks, though, there should be legitimate open competition. We'd suspect that the battle will be between returner Isaac Savaiinaea and newcomers Zach Whitley and Kenny Young. The reviews we've heard regarding Whitley's athleticism leads us to believe he has the best shot of challenging Savaiinaea for the spot. The only caution we have is that coming in as a freshman and playing inside linebacker in this system is not an easy task, so we'd probably lean toward Savaiinaea winning the job. That said, we'd suspect each of Young and Whitley to play this year, potentially a good deal. Cameron Griffin seems like an obvious redshirt candidate, despite his upside, since he hasn't played a high level of competition before.
Eric Kendricks.
We see Dwight Williams contributing significantly on special teams but likely not playing too much defense this season (in a role similar to Cameron Judge and Jayon Brown from this past season).

Outside Linebacker
Kenny Orjioke (6'4, 240) JR
Aaron Wallace (6'2, 240) RS JR
Cameron Griffin (6'3, 220) FR

Mike Linebacker
Eric Kendricks (6'0, 228) RS SR
Kenny Young (6'2, 220) FR
Cameron Judge (6'1, 218) SO
Taylor Lagace (6'0, 208) RS SO

Jack Linebacker
Zach Whitley (6'2, 220) FR OR
Isaac Savaiinaea (6'2, 230) SO
Ryan Hofmeister (6'0, 222) RS SR
Dwight Williams (6'1, 215) FR

Outside Linebacker
Myles Jack (6'1, 225) SO
Jayon Brown (6'0, 208) SO
Deon Hollins (6'0, 216) SO


Secondary

Incoming Players:
Jaleel Wadood
Adarius Pickett
Ron Robinson
Denzel Fisher
Mossi Johnson

A year after adding one of the most heralded secondary classes in the country, Demetrice Martin was able to stock up against on talented DB's, with the class headlined by Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett. UCLA has a great deal of talent already in the secondary, with four returning starters and some talented depth that could compete for starting jobs this year. Right now, just looking at the way the depth chart stacks up, the most obvious opportunities for playing time are at nickel, where you could see Pickett and Wadood both winning the job. We could see Fisher redshirting to gain some weight, depending on whether he can gain 15 pounds in the next four or five months.
Fabian Moreau.
Ron Robinson is also likely a redshirt candidate, and might eventually switch to linebacker. With Mossi Johnson, much will depend on his recovery from knee surgery, but our guess is that he'll get an initial look at corner and then potentiall switch to offense if there seems to be a need. With his versatility, we think there's a decent chance he could play today.

Cornerback
Fabian Moreau (6'0, 193) JR
Priest Willis (6'2, 185) SO
Denzel Fisher (6'2, 170) FR
Mossi Johnson (6'1, 185) FR
Justin Combs (5'7, 165) RS SO

Safety
Anthony Jefferson (6'1, 185) RS SR
Tyler Foreman (6'2, 198) RS FR OR
Jaleel Wadood (5'11, 170) FR

Safety
Randall Goforth (5'10, 190) JR
Tahaan Goodman (6'2, 189) SO
Ron Robinson (6'2, 195) FR

Cornerback
Ishmael Adams (5'8, 190) RS SO
Adarius Pickett (6'0, 185) FR OR
Johnny Johnson (5'9, 181) RS FR OR
Marcus Rios (5'11, 180) RS SO


RELATED BRO STORIES --

Impact of Recruiting Class: Offense - We take a look at the impact of the offensive recruits on the depth chart...

UCLA's 2014 Football Signees Premium Story - We have capsules on each member of the UCLA 2014 recruiting class...

Why UCLA Could Make the Playoffs in 2014 - The Bruins have the talent, experience, and schedule to make a deep run...


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