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Senior OLB Damien Holmes will be missed in Westwood
These vacancies are worth keeping an eye on next season, but they weren't able to crack the top five in this slideshow. Here's a look at the honorable mentions for UCLA's most important position battles in 2013.
The graduation of senior OLB Damien Holmes will open up a hole in the Bruins' starting front seven, and his replacement will be tasked with filling some pretty big shoes. The coaching staff will need to find a starter from a group of young prospects to pick up a portion of Holmes' consistent production (53 tackles, 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks).
But the linebacker corps should be formidable in 2013, as the other three starters from this season are set to return. The Bruins will boast three upperclassmen at LB, including senior All-American Anthony Barr, so the loss of Holmes isn't as bad as it could have been.
The list of potential successors for Holmes includes rising senior Keenan Graham, redshirt freshman Aaron Porter and incoming recruits Myles Jack and Deon Hollins.
Graham looks to be the front-runner because of his experience in reserve the last couple seasons, but Porter, Jack and Hollins all have the talent to push the envelope. Overall, there should be plenty of depth and experience for UCLA at the linebacker position.
Another key loss to UCLA's front seven is the graduation of All-Pac-12 DE Datone Jones, a multi-year starter who finished 2012 with 62 tackles, 19 TFL and 6.5 sacks.
Jones anchored the edge in the Bruins' 3-4 defense, providing a strong push and an ability to penetrate the backfield at will. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos will be tasked with filling Jones' vacancy, and the leading candidate appears to be rising senior Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
Owa has served a backup role for a few seasons, but in 2012 he saw major field time behind DE Cassius Marsh. Odighizuwa was a highly touted recruit out of high school and has shown flashes of extreme physicality since coming to Westwood.
Behind Owa is prized 2012 recruit Ellis McCarthy, a monstrous youngster who should be stepping into his own next season (barring another injury setback).
All in all, the return of Marsh and starting NT Seali'i Epenesa has the UCLA defensive line relatively settled. If Owa and McCarthy can pick up the slack from the other end position, the Bruins will be stacked in the trenches.
Even though this position is not listed on the roster, Mora and Co. need to focus on finding a consistent returner for punts and kickoffs.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, RB Steven Manfro was selected to field punts because of his shiftiness and ability to break tackles. Unfortunately, Manfro could not catch the ball consistently, losing four muffed punts during the season.
True freshman safety Randall Goforth took over punt-return duties later in the year, and in limited action, he proved elusive and difficult to corral. While an athletic choice with the potential for explosive results, Goforth needs to stay healthy to bolster the secondary. Returning punts is inherently dangerous, and the Bruins cannot afford to lose Goforth, a potential starting safety.
Several players returned kickoffs for the Bruins last year, including Manfro and true freshman WR Kenny Walker.
Walker exhibited great speed and acceleration but was plagued by ball security issues. He should be a great option as he develops physically.
Manfro had success returning kicks, but he still needs to prove that his catch-bobbling problem is behind him. He figures to be near the top of the depth chart this spring, so the job could be his for the taking.