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UCLA football’s Otito Ogbonnia declares for 2022 NFL Draft

Senior defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia makes a tackle in UCLA football’s game against Oregon on Oct. 23. Ogbonnia announced Monday that he will be declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

By Sam Settleman

Dec. 13, 2021 1:01 p.m.

The Bruins are losing their starting defensive tackle for the second straight year.

UCLA football (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) senior defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia announced Monday his intention to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft and forgo his final year of eligibility with the blue and gold. Ogbonnia is not expected to suit up for the Holiday Bowl with his fellow Bruins on Dec. 28, instead opting to rehab an injury and begin preparations for the NFL Combine.

Ogbonnia’s decision comes one year after former UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa left Westwood for the NFL. Odighizuwa was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft and has since posted 30 tackles and two sacks 13 games into his rookie season.

Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 320 pounds, Ogbonnia came to UCLA as a two-sport athlete, competing in both football and track and field. He participated in the shot put and discus events in 13 meets during the 2018-2019 track season before making the switch to football full time.

As a true freshman in 2018, Ogbonnia played in all 12 games for the Bruins and made six starts. Over four seasons, he played in all 43 of UCLA’s contests and made seven more starts in 19 games between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Ogbonnia’s breakout season came in year four, with the senior defensive lineman starting all 12 games for the Bruins. Ogbonnia registered 30 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble in 2021, with multiple tackles in eight games this season.

UCLA will now be tasked with replacing an every-down lineman in the teeth of its defense. Redshirt senior defensive lineman Datona Jackson – who tied for second on the team in sacks in 2021 – and senior defensive lineman Odua Isibor both participated in the Bruins’ Senior Day ceremony Nov. 27 and could join Ogbonnia in leaving Westwood.

Ogbonnia is the first Bruin to officially declare for the 2022 NFL Draft, with decisions looming for many other players who donned the blue and gold this season, including senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. UCLA has already seen 11 of its players enter the transfer portal prior to its bowl game against North Carolina State on Dec. 28.

Players have until Jan. 17 to declare for the NFL Draft, which will take place in Las Vegas from April 28 to April 30.

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Sam Settleman | Assistant Sports editor
Settleman is currently an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, women's water polo and men's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Settleman is currently an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, women's water polo and men's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
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