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July 30, 2013

Going Camping: Defensive line

UCLA fall camp is just a few days away, and with that, BruinSportsReport.com continues its Going Camping preview with the defensive line.


2013 UCLA DEFENSIVE LINE AT A GLANCE
PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
DE

1. Cassius Marsh - 6-4, 260, Senior

One of several future NFL players on this defense, Marsh is poised to have a Datone Jones-like season. He's expected to be rushing on the same side as Anthony Barr, which should equal some big numbers from the senior.

2. Kylie Fitts - 6-4, 270, Freshman

Fitts came in to spring camp as advertised a few months ago. He was quick and disruptive, and given the lack of depth on this D-line so far, he should be in the two-deep right away in San Bernardino.


NG

1. Seali'i Epenesa  - 6-1, 310, Senior

Last year's starting nose should earn the same role this year heading into camp. He's not going to make any Vince Wilfork-like, game-changing plays, but he's been a stout NG for Angus McClure and the Bruins.


2. Ellis McCarthy - 6-4, 330, Sophomore

Ideally, UCLA would like McCarthy to be its starter. But weight problems and then injury issues haven't allowed that to happen yet. When conditioned right, he's possibly the best DL on this team. But if he can't get his body right, we'll never know what kind of player he is.


DE

1. Brandon Willis - 6-1, 275, RS Junior

This spot would certainly go to Owamagbe Odighizuwa or incoming frosh Eddie Vanderdoes, but with their respective elibility concerns (Odighizuwa's hip and Vanderdoes' NLI), Willis will likely get the start in San Bernardino. He had a solid spring and the Bruins should feel comortable with him in that role at least to begin camp.


2. Keenan Graham - 6-1, 255, RS Senior

Moving from OLB to DE, Graham was one of the surprises of spring. He probably racked up double-digit sacks in his limited practices battling a leg injury, which surprised many. He should be in the two-deep to start summer practices.


BATTLE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
The noseguard spot, from depth chart positions one through four, should be very interesting. Epenesa will try to hold off McCarthy, who will try to hold off Eli Ankou and Kenny Clark. Head coach Jim Mora has already said Kenny Clark could shake up the depth chart if he plays well, allowing both Ankou and McCarthy to slide to different DE positions. And, after watching Epenesa work with differnet units in spring camp last April, it's clear UCLA is looking for an upgrade at its starter position.

PRESSURE IS ON...
Jim Mora and the staff with regard to Odighizuwa. The senior defensive lineman, if healthy, is hands-down a starter on this team. The problem is he's coming off two straight hip surgeries, and likely won't be 100 percent for at least a few games into this season. The staff will be faced with the tough call of using a banged up Odighizuwa this season, or redshirting him and getting him at 100 percent for 2014.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Eddie Vanderdoes. If he can gain eligibility - which might happen, given his final NLI appeal was heard on Monday afternoon - he could be penciled in as the starter here. He may have been UCLA's top 2013 target, and once the Bruins landed him, they clearly had big plans for him. If he's not eligible, even watching him on the scout team should be a treat for reporters and fans this year.

POSITION MVP
Cassius Marsh was rock-solid last year, and he showed that once again in the spring. He's UCLA's best defensive lineman, and paired with Barr on one side of the line, he should be a matchup nightmare for offensive lines.


Going Camping Review

-Quarterbacks
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Running backs
-Offensive line
-Receivers



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