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Key UCLA LB To Miss Bowl

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UCLA linebacker and leading tackler Eric Kendricks had ankle surgery Friday and will not play in the Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
UCLA linebacker and leading tackler Eric Kendricks had ankle surgery Friday and will not play in the Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

UCLA lost an underrated member of its defense Friday when leading tackler Erick Kendricks had ankle surgery, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It was easy for Kendricks to operate beneath the radar of most fans in the Bruins' talent-saturated linebacker corps, including a pair of all-conference performers.

Senior Anthony Barr was busy making a case for a Top 5 draft spot in April and freshman Myles Jack was endearing himself to throwback fans across the country as one of the best two-way players in years.

But it was Kendricks who led the team in tackles with 106, third-most in the Pac-12, despite playing through back and shoulder injuries. But he hasn't practiced since the Nov. 30 season finale, in which he recorded 11 tackles and a sack against USC.

Freshman Isaako Savaiinaea is expected to start in place of Kendricks.

UCLA faces Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.