Cody hoping to earn his keep

Former Los Altos star Shaun Cody, left, hopes to keep working on Sundays.

The National Football League, as a business, can be quite cruel.
There are no provisionals in the NFL. The best players play, and those who don’t fit that criteria, must look elsewhere.
Former Los Altos High School star Shaun Cody finds himself right in the middle of that world. Cody, who after earning All-America status at USC and being regarded enough for the Detroit Lions to select him in the second-round of the 2005 NFL Draft, is now playing with his roster spot on the line this exhibition season.
It’s a system that Cody truly understands.
“I don’t take it as pressure,” Cody told “I just take it as a chance to compete for a spot. I know we’ve got a lot of defensive tackles and the reality is you can only keep so many. All you can do is go out and compete.
“If you put pressure on yourself, that’s when guys tend to worry about it. You can’t lose sleep over it, but go out there and compete. If you’re the guy for the spot and they think you can perform and play to what they want you to, that’s the only thing you can hope for.”
Cody, who played in all 16 games, starting two his rookie year in 2005 and 15 games last season, has played in all of the team’s three exhibition games, recording four tackles. Cody, who is listed as the team’s No. 2 nose tackle, gets his last chance to state his case when the Lions travel to Buffalo to face the Bills on Thursday.
“I need to go out there and produce,” Cody said. “I know I’ve had a good camp up to this point and now it’s just time to prove it. That’s when you’ve got to prove it. It doesn’t matter what you do in practice. In the end, it’s what you can put on tape and what you can show on film.”

Harwell’s long wait is about over

Brigham Harwell, a former Los Altos star who is now at UCLA, returns to the football field this season.

This is expected to be a special Labor Day for former Los Altos High School football star Brigham Harwell, who is now at UCLA.
Sept. 1 is the day the Bruins open the 2008 season with a home encounter against Tennessee at the Rose Bowl. But it’s also signifies the end of Harwell’s long wait. The senior missed all but one game last season. But now he’s ready to return.
“I really can’t wait for the season to start,” Harwell recently. “Last year was very difficult for me. I had never missed a season. My Saturdays were spent watching UCLA on TV, and not playing.
“I’m really excited about the year. I’ve worked real hard, getting my timing, watching film and just preparing to perform on Saturdays.”
And the general consensus is that he will not only perfom on Saturdays, but do it quite well. He is considered to be one of the top players at his position, not just in the Pac-10, but in the nation as well. He begins the season on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the top lineman in the country.
“I don’t think there’s any question that to play great defense, you have to be able to create a pass rush and disruption with your front four,” UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. “When you have the benefit and advantage of a guy like Brigham to start your defense, it’s a nice place to start. It gives us hope to be a very, very strong defense.”
Now Harwell is ready for a banner season, and the view from here says he will have one.

Thurmond expected to shine in ’08

Oregon’s Walter Thurmond, a former star at West Covina High School has become one of the top defensive backs in the country.

Walter Thurmond III left West Covina High School a few years ago as one of the top players in Valley. He will return to the Southland later this fall as one of the nation’s best.
The junior cornerback, who is now a key member of the University of Oregon’s ‘Gang Green,’ is considered one of the top defensive backs in the country, and was recently placed on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the top defensive back in the country.
Expect big things from the former All-Area player, who will return to SoCal when Oregon faces USC at the Coliseum on Oct. 4. Thurmond had a team-high 75 solo tackles in 2007 and returned both a fumble and an interception back for scores. He’s been described as a touchdown waiting to happen.
“He’s a playermaker,” Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. “He has unbelievable quickness. He’s not the biggest guy. But he’s very physical. He’s a great tackler, and he’s a track athlete in terms of his speed and athleticism.
“But he’s become a mentally tough player, and his involvement with Jairus Byrd and Patrick Chung gives us one of the best secondaries in the nation.”

Craft gets the call

Former Mt. SAC quarterback to be the one at UCLA.

Kevin Craft, the highly-touted former Mt. San Antonio College quarterback who is now at UCLA, will be the Bruins starter when UCLA opens the 2008 season at the Rose Bowl against Tennessee on Sept. 1.
Craft was announced the starter earlier this week by coach Rick Neuheisel.
I personally believe Craft will do quite well. He has the tools to be a serviceable quarterback at the Division I level. He has adequate arm strength, makes good decisions and I love his pocket presence.

Craft gets his shot

Former Mt. SAC QB Kevin Craft could start for UCLA on Labor Day.

Sometimes, sports is all about being in the right place at the right time.
In the case of former Mt. San Antonio College quarterback Kevin Craft, opportunity is definitely knocking.
Craft, two years removed from starting five games for San Diego State before enjoying a monster year at Mt. SAC last season, is the front runner to be UCLA’s starting quarterback when the Bruins open the 2008 season in three weeks against Tennessee in the Rose Bowl.
Craft, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in leading the Mounties to the CCCAA state title game last season, got his opportunity when senior Ben Olson re-injured his foot this past Saturday, and will miss the next two months.
Craft, who is battling redshirt freshman Chris Forcier for the job, appeared to earn some brownie points after enjoying a solid practice Tuesday morning.
My impression of Craft, while he was at Mt. SAC last season, was that he will do quite well at the Division I level. Now, for Bruins fans, don’t expect miracles, but the junior has nearly every thing to be successful. He has a decent arm, solid pocket awareness and good football sense that most coaches’ sons usually enjoy.
He also has something else on his side – Karma. Fred Robledo tells me that when UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was in then his first season at Colorado, his quarterback was Mt. SAC transfer Mike Moschetti. Now that the former Bruin star is back in his first season at his alma mater, his quarterback may be another former Mountie, this time Kevin Craft.
What comes around, goes around.
Besides isn’t it better for a quarterback to be CRAFTy, then to FORCIER it?

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