The UCLA Bruins are looking for their third straight Pac 12 South Division title in 2013. Jim Mora will look for an even better performance from his defense next fall, counting on them to lock down Pac 12 offenses and create major swings in momentum with turnovers and sacks. The unit will be led by the underappreciated talent of linebacker Eric Kendricks.
Last season, Kendricks led the entire conference by a wide margin with 149 tackles during his sophomore season, the ninth most in all of college football last season. He also added six tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks, with an interception, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. He was a dynamic playmaker that was in on plays all over the field.
Despite all of that, however, Kendricks was more often an afterthought when discussing the Pac 12’s elite defensive players from 2012. Even on his own team, Kendricks was often overshadowed by the incredible talents of fellow linebacker Anthony Barr who will once again be considered for the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year award next season.
While he won’t get as much publicity, Kendricks will once again be a key cog in the UCLA defensive gameplan and the player that keeps the whole unit together. He’ll continue to grow as a playmaker in his junior season and make an even bigger impact on the Bruins’ fortunes next fall.
He won’t get near the credit he likely deserves, but Kendricks could be the most important member of the Bruins’ defense in 2013. Can he take them all the way to a Pac 12 title next season?