Star Penn football linebacker Jake Heimlicher officially announced on Tuesday that he would be signing with UCLA, where he will be immediately eligible to play during the 2023 season as a graduate-transfer.
Heimlicher, a first team All-Ivy selection this past season, entered the transfer portal after the conclusion of Penn's season and received offers from the likes of Fresno State and Ohio University, but ultimately decided on the Bruins, who at the moment are ranked No. 17 in the nation.
"I want to thank UPenn for giving me incredible teammates and coaches over the last four seasons," Heimlicher said as he reminisced about his time donning the Red and Blue. "I could not be more excited to commit to Coach Kelly and Coach Malloe to attend UCLA and continue this journey as a Bruin!!!"
At Penn, Heimlicher made his mark on the field and on the Quakers' football program. After playing sparingly in his first two seasons, he had his breakout year in 2021, registering 7.5 sacks, 51 total tackles, 12.5 which were for loss, and 12 quarterback hurries, earning an honorable mention All-Ivy.
This past season, he managed to improve on his 2021 campaign, registering an Ivy League-leading 9.0 sacks, 47 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble, and 10 quarterback hurries. He helped captain a defensive line that ranked second in the entire FCS in rushing yards allowed per game and sparked a massive single-season turnaround for the Quakers from 3-7 in 2021 to 8-2 in 2022.
In addition to an All-Ivy first team nod, his stellar performance earned him a finalist slot for the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his Penn career with a total of 112 tackles, 27.5 for loss, and 17.5 sacks, which is the sixth-most in program history.
“He is very dedicated to the process, whether it is studying football film, in the weight room, or taking care of his body,” Priore said to the DP in November. “He’s not just interested in being a good football player. He’s committed to it.”
Heimlicher has stated in the past that his goal was "to play at the next level," and at UCLA, he will have a big enough stage at the Rose Bowl to showcase his pass-rushing abilities to NFL scouts. Led by head coach Chip Kelly, who has had previous NFL head coaching experience with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, Heimlicher will join a Bruins squad that finished the regular season 9-3.
Additionally, the Bruins are no stranger to taking in transfers from the Ivy League, as they brought in Harvard defensive lineman Jacob Sykes ahead of their 2022 campaign, who was arguably the team's most consistent interior presence this season.
While Heimlicher plays a different position than Sykes, the Bruins certainly hope that he can have just as big of an impact during his first season in Westwood.