The UCLA Bruins are set to open up spring camp ready to defend their Pac 12 South Division title in 2013. To do so, they will need a strong showing from their defense, which is keyed by their linebackers. While Anthony Barr will get the majority of the headlines at right outside linebacker heading into next season, the Bruins are still searching for someone to start on the other side at left outside linebacker. Could sophomore Aaron Wallace answer the call this spring?
The former three-star recruit came to UCLA with the size, instincts and tackling ability to be a major force against the run. He hasn’t gotten much opportunity to shine, however, as he has sat behind more experienced linebackers on the depth chart. In 2012, he appeared in only 10 games and made just three tackles, but flashed a little playmaking ability with a forced fumble. With the path cleared ahead of him, Wallace will get a chance to show what he can do as he starts spring practice penciled in as the staring left outside linebacker.
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Wallace has good size to come off the edge and disrupt in the backfield. He has great athleticism to chase down ball-carriers and get after the quarterback, giving the Bruins a nice pass-rushing option to balance out the defense with Barr wreaking havoc on the other side. The biggest question of his game has been his ability to drop into pass coverage, but it’s likely something that the coaching staff has worked on with him since he got to UCLA.
The hopes of a repeat trip to the Pac 12 Championship game could hinge on how well Jim Mora reloads on defense next fall. That defense could always use another presence off the edge, but is Aaron Wallace ready to be that presence?