A-list position battles: UCLA

Seventh in a series taking a look at top position competitions this fall.

UCLA: Linebacker (times two!)

Why the competition? Middle linebacker Reggie Carter, a four-year starter, and "will" outside linebacker Kyle Bosworth, a 21-game starter, are both gone.

Candidates: In the middle: junior Steve Sloan (6-foot-4, 232) and sophomore Patrick Larimore (6-3, 250). On the outside: junior Sean Westgate (5-11, 216) and junior Glenn Love (6-4, 216).

The skinny: A quick review of the Bruins' depth chart reveals few areas without a fairly clear post-spring pecking order, but both these linebacker spots are wide open. Sloan started nine games as a redshirt freshman, so he has more experience, but Larimore is a hard-hitter who played well this spring. Love had 27 tackles last year as a backup safety in 2009 before being moved up. He has the frame and athleticism to beat out the undersized Westgate, but he's still learning the position. Westgate had 18 tackles and started once last fall. If things don't shake out like the Bruins' coaches want them to, then expect at least one of the three incoming freshmen linebackers to press for playing time. And if touted recruit Anthony Barr isn't the answer at running back, might his athleticism be intriguing on defense?