Bruins look to Nate Chandler in wake of Datone Jones’ injury
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The injury to UCLA defensive end Datone Jones caused a ripple effect, providing Nate Chandler a chance to move from defensive tackle to defensive end.
Chandler, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound junior, has been shuffled around the Bruins’ depth chart since he arrived in Westwood. But defensive line coach Todd Howard is certain he has found the ideal spot.
“Athletically, you have a guy who is 6 feet 5, almost 300 pounds and runs a high 4.5 40 [-yard dash],” Howard said. “He has all the tools.”
Chandler was moved from tight end to defensive tackle in spring, a move he welcomed, saying, “I like being physical.”
At the time, Howard said he felt Chandler could make a solid defensive end. But the Bruins needed bodies in the middle, having lost three defensive tackles from last season. David Carter is the only returning defensive tackle who has significant game experience.
Chandler, who has played tackle and tight end since coming to UCLA, was comfortable with another move.
“I’m just out here trying to have fun,” Chandler said. “It’s unfortunate Datone went down, because he is a key player on the defense. But this gives me the opportunity to go in there and play.”
Chandler said the biggest difference between defensive tackle and defensive end is that “at end, you’re going against the tight end or tackle. Inside, you have to fight off double teams.”
Sophomore Damien Holmes, sophomore Iuta Tepa and senior Reginald Stokes are the only defensive ends with game experience.
Holmes played in 13 games as a reserve last season. Tepa played in five games off the bench. Stokes, who missed spring practice because of knee surgery, played in eight games as a reserve last season and 11 games, including five starts, in 2008.
Freshman defensive tackle Wesley Flowers also received some time at defensive end Wednesday. Freshman Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a highly prized recruit, and redshirt freshman Keenan Graham will also get looks at the position.
“We’re still in the evaluation stage,” Howard said. “But Chandler has showed us some things.”
-- Chris Foster