UCLA helmet [600x400]
UCLA helmet [600x400] (Credit: Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY Sports)

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UCLA's defense received a huge boost Monday night when lineman Jay Toia, who had announced his intention to enter the transfer portal, said he would remain with the Bruins in 2024.

Toia made his announcement on social media through UCLA, which quoted him as saying, "Bruin Nation! I'm Back! I'm Ready to Finish what I Started!" He had posted Thursday on social media that he planned to enter the portal as he neared graduation from UCLA.

The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Toia, who began his career at USC, has started 24 games over the past two seasons for UCLA. He had 28 tackles, including four for loss and a sack, last fall as the Bruins finished No. 2 nationally against the run and No. 14 in points allowed. He had 30 tackles, including three for loss, and a forced fumble in 2022.

Toia's decision bolsters a UCLA defensive line already losing Laiatu Latu, a projected first-round pick in this week's NFL draft, as well as linemen Gabriel and Grayson Murphy. The three combined for 26 sacks, 46.5 tackles for loss and 29 quarterback hurries. Toia will rejoin starting defensive tackle Keanu Williams, veteran Gary Smith III and others.

Toia will once again play under Ikaika Malloe, who coached UCLA's defensive line last year and has been promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2024 season.