EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Barr talks about his decision

Loyola running back/linebacker/??? Anthony Barr was away for the week but we had a chance to talk tonight, and, well, he’s a great kid. Very focused, very driven, very certain that UCLA is his best chance to make it as a football player.

He is still unsure of his eventual position at UCLA (hence the ???) but I could see him being a superb safety or linebacker, if the Bruins put him on the defensive side of the ball. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he has the frame to add plenty of weight and muscle and though he suffered a broken leg in his senior season, he expects to make an impact quickly.

Here is his Scout.com profile – Barr – and check out the interview after the jump.
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Weekly Answers, Pt. 12

1) One last Q for you Jon, SC put together in my opinion the best LB class in NCAA history last year.Muleuaga,Cushing,Matthewes,Maiva. you can only pick one.Who should get the praise for that Petey or Norton….Nice to see Norton be like a tree and leave. – Jed and Gold
I’m picking one, it’s Maualuga. Who should get the praise? Norton. He had a lot of juice with that class. Lots and lots of juice.

2) Hey Jon, I was wondering with some guys leaving early, what you think the starting offense and defense would look like for next year? (and what commits you think can start) thanks – lasportsfan(noSC!!)
Prince, Franklin, Coleman, Rosario, Embree (Smith), Harkey (Fauria), Abele, Baca, Maiava, Williams, Harris. D: Jones, Carter, ????, Graham or Tepa, Ayers, Golper, Sloan or Westgate, Hester, Moore, Dye, Price.

3) Hi Jon, week or so ago you had a post entitled, “Price on front of ESPN draft”, which, in the comments section, one or more readers pointed out that some/all of the info was from the ESPN website but that ESPN was not credited in the post. While I know most sports fans think this is trival imagine you and your editor(s) wouldn’t think so if this were brought to your attention. – TrojanHorse

First off, I wouldn’t care if my writing was posted anywhere else. But, reflecting on the situation, I was a bit overzealous when I posted the article. While I believe I gave it proper sourcing – I never claimed to write the article, and I thought it was pretty clear it was an ESPN piece – I now know to either make it abundantly clear if I’m not the author, or not post at all. I thought I was helping out the readers who don’t have the insider subscription. Guess not.

4) So what is your bio? – Walt
I was born in New Jersey and moved to Newbury Park when I was 3. Raised in Thousand Oaks, read the LA Times and Ventura Country Star starting when I was 7. Idolized Jim Murray and Woody Woodburn. Watched every Lakers game between 1995 and 2002. Thought I would be the next Chick Hearn, then realized my voice wasn’t very distinguished and figured I should try writing. Started writing junior year of high school, was promoted to sports editor as a senior while doing play-by-play for the boys basketball team and PA announcing softball, girls varsity and JV basketball, boys frosh-soph and JV basketball and boys volleyball. Played four years of football for the Lancers and still cry when I think of my last game, a crushing loss to Ventura in the quarterfinals. Touchdown as time expired to tie it, holding on center, I was playing guard. There was no hold. No. Hold. Recruited by Ventura College but chose to start my writing career. Went to SDSU, graduated in five years (luckily), after being sportswriter, assistant sports editor, sports editor, managing editor and editorial adviser of The Daily Aztec, one of the best college papers in the country. Worked for two years at the San Diego Union-Tribune, eventually covering San Diego State sports and USD football with Jim Harbaugh, still the most fun I’ve ever had covering a team. Worked for SI: On Campus, ESPN Radio, XX 1090 Radio and cohosted a radio show in college. Moved to Casper, Wyoming, for my first job out of college, six days after I graduated. Three months later, got a better job offer with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and jumped at the chance to work with Joe Hawk, Ed Graney, etc. After 11 months, couldn’t stand being away from my friends and family, moved back to Thousand Oaks and started working for the Daily News. Now, I’m here. I love Friday Night Lights, Californication, Ben Harper, Bon Jovi, good steak and Hefeweizen. I think the Tupac-BIG rap war was fabricated. I think Oswald did not act alone. I am a Jeopardy and Law and Order fanatic. I only care about two teams, TOHS and the Denver Broncos, and only one of the two constantly depresses me. Thanks, Cutler, you idiot. Yes, I have a lot of friends who got married and several more who are getting married in 2010. I have a great family and the most beautiful niece in the world. Anything more?

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Weekly Answers, Pt. 11

1) Will there be any more commits before signing day, or will the remaining prospects wait until signing day to announce? – Andrew from Placentia.
There might be one more announcement before signing day, but I expect the rest on NLI day.

2) Any word on football players who will compete in track and field? especially, Randall Carroll in the sprints. But also Thigpen (hurdles/sprints), Rosario (jumps), Savage (throws) and anyone else? – anonymous
Last I heard, all were competing, plus Sheldon Price.

3) How do you think the basketball teams recent struggles will affect our ability to land McCallum or Zeigler? Would theses guys see an oppertunity to get immediate playing time or will they look to teams that are doing better this year? – Bruin 2005
I don’t think it will affect them much. UCLA is UCLA, momentary setbacks and all. You go to UCLA not because of 2010 but because of 05-08, 1995, etc. etc.

4) Do you have any info on the julious moore decommiting rumors? – MaltbaaAs of now, he’s still committed to UCLA.

5) I am a huge fan of Marquis Jackson, who I think is more well rounded than his twin Malik.Can you find any J.C. video from last year or provide thoughts on him? Thanks Jon – Jed and Gold
Here you go – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P67n7qCgOjc, but that’s from HS. None from JC that I can find. I know he’s a beast speed rusher, and UCLA needs that now.

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Weekly Answers, Pt. 10 – in other words, can’t sleep

1) Speaking of Josh Smith, what is the status of the football player Josh Smith? what are his chances of playing next year? – Lasportsfan(noSC!!)
Smith looked fantastic – FANTASTIC – on scout team this season, and will almost certainly compete for a starting spot.

2) Great job on the blog, Jon. My question is–do Bruins who have graduated ever come back to work with the current players on their games eg. Walton or Kareem working with the big men in BB? – Keith
Not really, no. Too busy. Walton is working on a new business venture in San Diego and Kareem, well, we know what he’s going through.

3) With USC unable to participate this year, what will be the format of the Pac-10 basketball tournament? – Anonymous

A formal plan has not been announced, but I assume a play-in game for the eighth spot.

4) What’s the plan for Sean Sheller next year? Still on the team? If so, still at DT? Or back to OL? – Palcic’s Doghouse
Back to O-line along with Connor Bradford.

5) Do you think CBH’s stubborness of sticking with man on man defense helps him land recruits with an eye on the NBA? Do you think his use of the man on man defense helps his players make it/succeed in the NBA? – UCLABZ
Yes to both.

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Fantastic article on Neuheisel

My former colleague turned bitter, hated rival* Ramona Shelburne absolutely smashed this feature on Rick Neuheisel today. Some incredible tidbits about Neuheisel’s college life, his change in philosophies and his attempt to grasp control of the LA football scene.

Here’s the link: CRN Feature

*For those who don’t understand sarcasm, Ramona is one of my best friends and is tearing it up at ESPNLA. We miss her at the Daily News.

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EXCLUSIVE: Owamagbe Odighizuwa Opens Up

This late in the recruiting process, I’m frankly stunned when any major recruit answers a phone call, much less gives me 15 minutes. But Owamagbe Odighizuwa – profile here – is not your typical prospect. While he is weary of the process and eagerly awaits making his decision, he has been remarkably candid and is quite honest when he says he does not know where he’ll sign.

Here’s my interview after the jump…

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Weekly Answers, Pt. 9

1) What do you think the depth chart on offense will look like come spring? – AnonymousPrince (Brehaut), Franklin (Jones), Coleman, Rosario (Carroll), Embree (Smith), Harkey (Fauria), Abele (Baca), Baca (Taylor), Maiava (Taylor), Williams (Kia), Harris (Capella).

2) So when are you going to post your bio? – AnonymousWhat do you want to know?

3) while it has much to do with how good they perform next year, do you see rahim moore or ayers bolting to the nfl after their jr. years? – Anonymous
No, both have a lot to learn about patience and gap assignment. For as good as they are, both are extremely raw. In other words…watch out.

4) Do you think coach Caldwell can put the Lady Bruins at the top of the PAC10?Do you agree she was a great hire? – BRUINBEATCH
I think Caldwell was a fantastic hire – anyone who learned under, played for, and coached with Pat Summit is a great hire – and I do expect UCLA women’s hoops to start climbing in the Pac-10.

5) Have you thought about making each q & a a topical thing? For example one day it’ll be all recruiting questions. Another day it would be all basketball questions. All football 09 questiings. All basketball recruiting. All hypotheticals and so on and so forth. Just a thought. – Anonymous
Questions come rolling in throughout the week, so it would be difficult. At some point, I will do more specific Q&A’s, though, because that’s a good suggestion.

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On the Marsh

The wheel of fortune that is Cassius Marsh’s recruiting seems to have finally stopped, and it appears Rick Neuheisel is heading to the bonus round.

The Oaks Christian defensive tackle verbally committed to UCLA on Tuesday night, potentially filling a huge position of need for the late-charging Bruins.

Marsh, rated the No. 8 defensive tackle prospect in the country by Scout.com, originally committed to Cal in late April before decommitting a month later, eventually flipping to Louisiana State in late October. After playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in early January, there were rumblings that he might want to stay closer to home. He remained a Tiger commit until Tuesday night, when Neuheisel and Co. lured him back to Southern California.

“That’s the way it is today – at this point, I’m saying and he’s saying he’s going to UCLA,” Oaks Christian head coach Bill Redell said. “He went to Cal before the season even started – he’s really a good kid, and I think he kinda doesn’t like to say no to some people. He’s impressed with all these guys, and he should be impressed with them. But he kind of got his heart in front of his head sometimes.

“When he went back for the Army game, he was away from home for a week, and I think he recognized – and this shows some maturity – that he didn’t like being away from home.”

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