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No longer able to declare for the draft, a group of Bruins have still not made their futures clear.

In the weeks following UCLA football’s Holiday Bowl cancellation, many members of the 2021 roster declared for the 2022 NFL draft, transferred out of the program or announced their return to Westwood for 2022, but there are still key players who have not publicly decided where their athletic futures lie.

True seniors were given the opportunity to return as super seniors following COVD-19’s effect on college football in 2020, and there are of course the usual redshirt juniors who have the option to return for a standard fifth campaign. Since the deadline to declare for the 2022 NFL draft was Jan. 17, UCLA is now playing the waiting game regarding over a dozen upperclassmen.

In terms of the super seniors, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr., offensive lineman Atonio Mafi and defensive lineman Tyler Manoa all announced they would return for their fifth year. Center Sam Marrazzo, tight end Michael Ezeike, defensive lineman Odua Isibor, edge rusher Mitchell Agude, linebacker Bo Calvert, linebacker Caleb Johnson, striker Shea Pitts, safety Stephan Blaylock and cornerback Mo Osling III are the rest of the prospective super seniors who could come back if they are able to secure a spot in a graduate program.

Offensive lineman Baraka Beckett, offensive lineman Jon Gaines, offensive lineman Lucas Gramlick, receiver Colson Yankoff, safety Kenny Churchwell III, safety Elisha Guidry, striker Martell Irby and defensive back Patrick Jolly all just finished their redshirt junior years and have the traditional redshirt senior year remaining, but they too would have to continue working on their undergraduate degree or start pursuing a graduate degree in order to stay on the roster moving forward.

Gaines, one of those players eligible for his redshirt senior year at UCLA, spoke to the media about the then-upcoming bowl game against NC State on Dec. 22, alluding towards a fifth year in Westwood next fall.

When Irby and Calvert last spoke to the media on Dec. 17, both defensive veterans spoke fondly about their time at UCLA and the 2021 season that was nearing its conclusion. Irby spoke about getting back to work following the bowl game and the Transformative Coaching and Leadership courses he had already been taking at UCLA’s graduate school, setting him up for a simple return in 2022.

Calvert, on the other hand, said it was sad that players were leaving following the bowl game, but did not express anything certain for his own future in Westwood.

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Pitts is an interesting case, considering he was on a list of players out of eligibility provided by UCLA compliance late in the season. However, a closer look at Pitts’ appearance history sets him up to have one more year, and on Nov. 23 he said he was already pursuing his Master’s in Transformative Coaching and Leadership as well.

Isibor, meanwhile, spoke more openly about the possibility of his super senior year when he last talked to the media on Nov. 17, even if he didn’t have all the answers at the time.

“Oh yeah, everything's up in the air,” Isibor said about considering the super senior option. “I wanna play football for as long as I can, so everything's up in the air, yeah.”

The rest of the players whose fates remain up in the air did not speak about their potential futures during their respective media availabilities last fall.

One more measuring stick may be the Senior Day festivities the Bruins held prior to their regular season finale versus Cal on Nov. 27. Returnees like Thompson-Robinson walked, but so did exiting transfers such as receiver Chase Cota and cornerback Jay Shaw.

Agude, Beckett, Pitts, Isibor, Osling and Gramlick all participated, while Johnson, Blaylock, Calvert, Marrazzo and Ezeike did not. Already committed super seniors such as Mafi, Manoa and Andrus did not walk that night, meaning Johnson, Blaylock, Calvert, Marrazzo and Ezeike could be very likely to return alongside them.

Players should have until near spring camp to decide whether to return, transfer or end their football careers at UCLA, but there is no defined timeline on when decisions need to be made.

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