When former fullback Anthony Barr made the switch to linebacker for the UCLA Bruins before the 2012 season, nobody would have predicted the outburst of production that ensued.
Barr, a junior who had played fullback in every game of his first two seasons, made the switch to defense for the first time since playing outside linebacker for Loyola High School when he was ranked the #10 linebacker in the nation by Scout.com. In his first two seasons as a Bruin, Barr started 11 out of 24 total games, recording 2 total touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving) from the fullback position.
Bruins coach Jim Mora switched Barr to defense last spring, hoping to bring some athleticism to their pass rush. This move allowed Barr to become one of the most productive linebackers in the nation, using his superior athleticism en route recording 83 total tackles (21.5 for loss), and leading the nation with 13.5 sacks. Barr also led the team with 4 forced fumbles and recorded a safety and a blocked kick. Anthony was the best of many pleasant surprises for the Bruins this past season, as he was a definite game-changer.
Many thought Barr would be a lock as a first round pick in the upcoming draft, but after analyzing his options, he decided to return for his final season of eligibility. Next season, he gets a chance to exhibit he can perform with the same consistency and also improve his coverage, which will make him an excellent pickup for any team in need of a linebacker in 2014. Anthony Barr is one of the premiere linebackers in college football, but NFL teams will want to see the same fire and production out of Barr in 2013 for him to be considered a first rounder.