Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 8/15/12
As it is virtually impossible to replace a player of Patrick Larimore's importance both on and off the field, UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora has been getting a look at several alternatives while preaching a message of communication and assertiveness. Larimore, a senior linebacker who suffered his second concussion since the beginning of spring practices during a drill last week that did not include full pads, has retired from playing but will return to the team at some point as a clubhouse leader and, if all goes well, as an inspiration to the players around him. He was a team captain and defensive most valuable player while leading the team with 81 tackles in 2011. "We're going to miss him," Mora said. "I probably can't say it any better than I said it yesterday the guy is just the heart and soul of this team." In terms of re-arranging personnel, redshirt senior Damien Holmes will be shifted from outside to inside linebacker following a spring in which he had already moved to linebacker from defensive end, where he had logged 39 games and 20 starts over the past three seasons. Holmes, listed between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 and between 250 and 260 pounds, had already received several looks as an inside linebacker during spring practice. "It's a similar thing with training camp. It's something that I'm comfortable with," he said. Eric Kendricks, who has also has moved from the outside, will line up alongside Holmes as an inside linebacker. He has been held out of practice since late last week with a sore hamstring, as reported by Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times, but should emerge as a reliable member of new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' 3-4 defense. Junior Jordan Zumwalt will remain as an outside linebacker as part of a unit that will need to improve a run defense that ranked 96th nationally and 11th in the Pac-12 last year and will not have the fortune of returning its on-field and emotional leader in Larimore. In one of his messages to his linebacking core during camp, Mora has imparted the importance of communication to a group in which Holmes is the lone senior expected to be a part of the rotation. "Those guys are the middle of the defense," Mora said. "They're the core of your defense, and their communication goes forward and it goes backwards. They've got to be on the same page. They've got to set the front. They've got to communicate the coverages. They've got to communicate all the adjustments, and so they really have to do a tremendous job of being on the same page and making calls, making them, decisively, making them emphatically, making them so everybody can hear." He's also counting on Larimore to provide his own verbal encouragement, even if he won't be able to put on his pads and contribute on the field. "I think that defensively we've got a good nucleus of guys that have leadership ability, and we'll miss Patrick, but Patrick will fill that void a little bit too when he comes back," Mora said. "He will. If he's in the meeting, or if he's on the field during practice, or if he's on the sidelines during a game, there's still going to be a level of accountability to who he is and what he represents. I think that'll be felt amongst our team." It will hopefully replace the absence left by one of the team's most vocal and character leaders. "On the field is one thing, but from a leadership standpoint, that's a hard void to fill. I see a guy like Damien Holmes, who's been around here a while, and is one of our harder workers. The players really respect him. I see him being a guy that partially fills that void," Mora said of the team's vocal leadership. "I think a guy like Tevin McDonald, Andrew Abbott, they partially fill that void. The one thing we don't want any of those guys to be is something that they're not. They have to do it their own way. They're not going to be Patrick, and we don't want them to try to be Patrick. They have to be genuine." It's something that comes naturally for Holmes. "It doesn't really change," he said of his vocal assertiveness. "I like to think that I've been vocal, even with Larimore," Holmes said. "The thing about our defense is that so many guys are talking. It's not necessarily one. Yes, Mike is going to give the call. But everyone's talking. Everyone's got to be vocal. So I think as long as you just keep that up, it'll be fine."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker