UCLA Football Just Lost ‘Most Irreplaceable Player on 2024 Roster,’ Say Bruins Insiders

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Will Decker and Jamal Madni of the Bruin Bible podcast shared their reactions to the news that UCLA Football’s defensive lineman, Jay Toia entered the transfer portal. The 6’3″ 325 lbs Simi Valley native took to Twitter Thursday morning to announce this news.

The longtime hosts of the show were stunned by the news and acknowledged that this is the reality of college sports in the transfer portal era and it is also the first major setback of DeShaun Foster’s short tenure as Bruins head coach.

State of UCLA Football’s Defense Without Toia

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
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Here is how Decker and Madni described Toia’s role in the UCLA defense,

“The reason I was so stunned and the reason it was such a visceral reaction is, arguably and perhaps, inarguably, Toia is the most irreplaceable player on this UCLA Bruins roster. Any position included. Even if you talk about an Ethan Garbers, who’s the starting quarterback.”

“In terms of interior defensive line and being able to anchor that front four, anchor that line of scrimmage and be able to command the double team. There just is nobody else.”

“Without him, this is now an average to a below average defensive line, which is a very daunting proposition going into the Big 10.”

Jamal Madni- Bruin Bible

“[Jay Toia] was the lone building block off that defensive line. And I know Keanu Williams has potential. I know Gary Smith is a veteran. Those guys cannot do half the things Toia can do.”

“Was he having a good spring, too? You know, he was bulldozing his way and blowing a place left And right on that practice field, man. It was a scene to watch.” He was the next in line to be out of UCLA to have that future career on the NFL level”

“Your job [as an interior DL] is to clog the lanes and make sure that you can get your linebackers and edge rushers in the position,where they need to be, and he did that as well as maybe anybody within the Pac-12 last year. If you look at the production, this defensive line put up in terms of pressures and sacks as a whole, has a lot to do with Toia. This is just such a massive, massive loss on so many different fronts.”

Will Decker- Bruin Bible

Toia has recorded 66 total tackles, 38 solo, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble in 29 games over three seasons. He played in all 26 games over the last two.

The knock-on effect of a dominant interior defensive lineman was also evident in the number of pressures and sacks, as Decker pointed out. Laiatu Latu, Gabriel, and Grayson Murphy all registered more than 50 pressures last season. Latu and Gab finished 5th and seventh in the nation in pressure. Latu led all defenders with 15 sacks and UCLA football finished the season 5th among all schools with 43 total sacks.

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