UCLA has already lost its offensive coordinator to another job. Now, the Bruins are losing one of their most productive threats in the passing game to the next level for good measure.
The father of wide receiver Thomas Duarte confirmed to the Orange County Press Register that his son has decided to forego his senior season and make himself available for the April draft. Tim Duarte described coordinator Noel Mazzone‘s departure for Texas A&M as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
A short time later, Duarte posted a note on his personal Twitter account addressing his decision to leave the Bruins early for the NFL.
Duarte led all Bruin receivers in touchdown catches with 10, double the total of No. 2 Jordan Payton. The 6-3, 225-pound junior was also second on the team in receptions (53) and receiving yards (872), while his 16.6 yards per reception was tops on the team for those with 10 or more catches.
The loss of Duarte hurts the Bruins’ returning production in the receiving corps, with the Los Angeles Times writing that “UCLA will enter next season with just one player who made at least a dozen catches in 2015: soon-to-be redshirt junior Darren Andrews, who recorded 42 catches for 429 yards and a score.”
As a reminder, the deadline for draft-eligible players to officially declare their intentions is next Monday, Jan. 18.