The UCLA football program has some key players leaving, but the Bruins also have some key players returning.
RB Damien Thigpen: Losing Johnathan Franklin is a big blow, but watch out, Thigpen may take you by surprise. This kid has breakaway speed, moves up and down very well and he’s a reliable receiver. Thigpen really made his presence felt last year backing up J. Frank. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a torn ACL in his right knee. I expect him to make a recovery and compete for the starting job in Spring.
WR Shaq Evans: Talk about a deep threat, look it up in a dictionary and his face will pop up. A transfer from Notre Dame, Evans caught 60 passes for 877 yards and 3 touchdowns. The touchdown numbers might not stand out, but this kid made some big plays throughout the year. Just adding another threat to Brett Hundley’s arsenal.
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LB ANTHONY BARR: Why is his name in caps? Well, it’s obvious. Every time he made a tackle, it was a big one. An F-Back converted to LB, Barr made national headlines, and was even a projected top 15 pick (per Mel Kiper). Anthony Barr’s presence, whether it’s sacking a quarterback, stuffing the run, or just communicating on D, is ALWAYS felt. I’m really excited about him; he has great potential. And he gets even more points since he decided to stick around for his senior year.
HC Jim Mora: No, he’s not a player, I know that. Mora was great during his first year at UCLA. He lead the Bruins to a PAC-12 South title and a 9-5 record, all with a freshman quarterback and a young team. Mora could’ve walked out on UCLA and taken a job in the NFL, but he didn’t. Major props to him for choosing to finish what he started. It’s reassuring to have a coach that is willing to turn down the spotlight and stick to his team.