Tuesday has marked a big day for outgoing transfers in Westwood.
Safety DJ Warnell was the latest member of UCLA football (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) to enter the transfer portal, joining edge rusher Myles Jackson, defensive lineman AJ Campbell, punter Luke Akers and quarterback Parker McQuarrie in departing the program this week. Warnell recorded nine tackles, two pass breakups and one forced fumble in 10 games for the Bruins this season after appearing in six games in 2020 as a true freshman.
Warnell has three years of eligibility remaining.
All five of the players who have entered the NCAA transfer portal this week were initially out-of-state recruits. Warnell is from Texas, while Jackson is from Georgia, Campbell is from Ohio, Akers is from Tennessee and McQuarrie is from New Hampshire. All five out-of-state players also began their careers in Westwood during the COVID-19 pandemic, as all of them are either freshmen or sophomores.
Warnell's departure has an impact greater than simply the scholarship and roster numbers, however, as he was the most consistent contributor of the outgoing transfers.
After playing in six games and tallying just two tackles in 2020, Warnell took a step up in 2021 by becoming a second-string safety and playing in each of the Bruins' first nine games. Warnell was the immediate backup to Stephan Blaylock, UCLA's fifth-leading tackler.
Blaylock is a senior, but he was not announced and honored as part of Senior Day on Saturday prior to the game against Cal. The other starting safety, Quentin Lake, could return for a super senior year should he choose to do so, and he said Saturday he had not made any decisions yet.
Warnell's recruitment to UCLA happened on a condensed timeline, as he received his scholarship offer on Dec. 3, 2019, took a visit on Dec. 7, committed on Dec. 8 and signed on Dec. 18. Coming out of Dickinson HS (TX), Warnell was a three-star prospect who ranked as the No. 88 cornerback and No. 1043 player in country, as well as the No. 124 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite.
The Bruins added 20 true freshmen in their 2020 recruiting class, and Warnell was the No. 15 player among that group. Between fellow freshmen John Humphrey and Jake Newman, in addition to transfers Obi Eboh and Qwuantrezz Knight, Warnell was the lowest-ranked of the five defensive backs UCLA brought in that offseason.
The technical rules in terms of scholarships and transfers are complicated enough in a normal year, but with super seniors still a thing and COVID-19 eligibility extensions being granted across the country, it gets even more messy. Essentially, schools are allowed to add up to 25 new scholarship players each cycle, but that number goes up for every outgoing transfer, so UCLA now has 30 scholarships to dish out to incoming freshmen, transfers and super seniors if it wants to.
That figure maxes out at 32, however, so if the Bruins have two more transfers declare their intentions to leave the program, they will not be able to replace any additional departures after that.