Recruiting reset with’s Brandon Huffman Pt. 4

JG: Who else is a guy that UCLA needs to zero in on and not let go?
BH: “I would say a guy like Travis Averill from Servite. Guy comes from one of the best-coached programs in the state, can play tackle and play guard. UCLA can’t afford to lose him. They cant lose a Travis Averill to a Boise State. He may be a three-star now, but did you watch the draft? Guys drafted in the first round who were two- or three-stars were all offensive linemen. Some guys develop differently. A Jordan Simmons would be great, but more realistically, Erik Magnusson is a guy they should really focus on. Kwayde Miller doesn’t have an offer yet, but he likes UCLA, and Lacy Westbrook, that’s a guy they need. A Westbrook, an Averill, a Magnusson, even a Max Tuerk. Those are guys UCLA needs to put the press on.”

JG: What about tight end? Wide receiver?
BH: “They’ve got to get a tight end. I don’t know John Young is going to be a pass-catching tight end. He’s going to be more in the Cory Harkey mold, Ryan Moya, Marceded Lewis, even though Marcedes could catch. Raymond Nelson has a chance to be a good tight for them. But between then who? Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is one of those key recruits. Can block, can run, is a top kid nationally. He could end up growing out of tight end and be a tackle, but he’d be an athletic offensive lineman at that. He becomes huge for them. Christo Kourtzidis has offers from Florida, Florida State, Alabama. Taylor McNamara. Ian Taubler is a guy like Raymond Nelson. But Cope-Fitzpatrick is certainly one of their key offensive targets.”
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Just a reminder…

I’m gone until the 19th in New York for guess what….a wedding (my cousin, Alison’s, and oh by the way, congrats!)…and a vacation. If anything major breaks, I’ll be in touch with my editors.

Thanks for understanding,

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Recruiting reset with Brandon Huffman Pt. 3

JG: So getting down to brass tacks, we talked about guys UCLA has gotten in late on, a guy like a Richard Mullaney, or a Blair Holliday. Who CAN’T they miss on this year? Who’s a backyard guy that they just need to get?
BH: First of all, you’re darn right about Mullaney, and there’s Dylan Wynn.
I’ll say on record right now: Butch Pau, 5-11 linebacker at Servite, pound-for-pound there’s not a better linebacker in the west. Not a better one. And he’ll get overlooked because of his size and then go out and become a stud like they all do. Gosh, look at Oregon State. Mullaney and Wynn. That’s the kind of guy Mike Riley wins with.”

JG: Looking back after spring ball, with a few players gone from the program and a few players in, what is the one major position of need for this class?
BH: They need offensive linemen. There has never been a better class than this year’s. You look at losing Nik Abele, Jeff Baca going down, just how fragile the offensive line has been with freak injuries. Losing Su’a-Filo? That’s one thing that is definitely encouraging – their biggest recruit is a guy who already started 13 games for them. They need Sua back, and that solves a lot of problems. Franchise left tackle. Granted, he may be coming back in different shape. But making sure he comes back will alleviate a lot of that. You look at that 2012 line, slide Sua in at left tackle, Baca in at right, Chris Ward, whoever takes center and your line is pretty well set. But that position more than anything.”
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Scates to bid farewell after golden anniversary

Al Scates is the King Midas of college volleyball, his golden touch bringing great fortune to the UCLA’s men’s program.

And now it’s been announced that he’ll be leaving after his golden anniversary.

The UCLA athletic department today announced that the venerable coach will be retiring after 50 years at UCLA following the 2012 season, after an unsurpassed 21 national championships.

“Al Scates stands alone in his contributions to the sport of men’s volleyball,” UCLA athletic directory Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “His dedication, passion, and stewardship of the game ushered UCLA into an era of widespread achievement in Olympic sports and broadened athletic opportunities for collegiate men across the country. While bittersweet, Coach Scates’ final year at the helm of Bruin volleyball will be a well-deserved season-long celebration for an individual whose lifetime achievements are truly remarkable. Al is among the greatest coaches in the history of college sports and a legend in the annals of UCLA Athletics. He is a Bruin in every sense of the word and we are so thankful for his 50 years of service to the university.”

Scates led the Bruins to 19 NCAA championships and 24 conference titles, and in 49 seasons, he has coached 52 first-team All-Americans and 27 Olympians.

Scates was selected national coach of the year six times and has been inducted into four halls of fame, including the America Volleyball Coaches Association and the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

“It is a privilege to coach the fine men that have participated and continue to compete for UCLA volleyball,” Scates said in a release. “I have enjoyed being a continuous member of UCLA volleyball since I walked onto the team as a junior in 1959. Our coach at the time, Dr. Glen Egstrom, taught me how to play the game and after I earned my Master’s degree in 1962, Glen encouraged me to apply for the head coaching job when he left campus. I was hired by Athletic Director Wilbur Johns to coach the 1962-63 UCLA team and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

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UCLA v. Texas and UCLA v. Arizona set for ESPN/ABC

From UCLA:

The Pac-12 Conference and television partner ESPN/ABC announced their early selections for the 2011 season this afternoon.

Two UCLA football games will be televised on a national basis with the possibility that others will be selected by ESPN/ABC during the season.

ABC and ESPN will televise UCLA’s Sept. 17 game against Texas at the Rose Bowl. The portions of the country that do not receive the ABC telecast will see the game on ESPN. Kickoff is set for 12:30 pm.

ESPN will televise the Bruins’ game at Arizona on Thursday, Oct. 20. Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm PT/MT.

ABC/ESPN still has windows on Nov. 5 (Arizona State), Nov. 12 (at Utah), Nov. 19 (Colorado) and Nov. 26 (USC) that will be filled 12 days prior to the date of the game.

In early June, the Pac-12 will announce additional telecasts and broadcast windows from Fox Sports Net and its licensees FX and Versus. Following that, UCLA will work on its local TV package, although some arrangements will not be final until the two Pac-12 TV partners make their 12-day selections.

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Recruiting reset with Brandon Huffman Pt. 2

JG: Is that lack of dynamism what you think led Rick Neuheisel to make so many changes?
BH: “I think so. That was definitely an effort that Neuheisel realized. He has to get other recruiters. The only aggressive recruiter in 2010 was Clark Lea. Daronte Jones was good, but was limited because he was a GA. Now you bring in in Johnson, Breckterfield, and then you bring Angus McClure out of the office and bring him back into the recruiting circle. He has been the guy who identified a lot of the guys in the fall as juniors. Now you’re able to utilize him on the road. In essence, three aggresseive recruiters to come on staff.”

JG: You mentioned McClure getting on guys early as juniors, but the common knock on UCLA is that they’re too often late to the party…
BH: “I think that’s a misconception. You look at Josh Garnett, a 5-star guard, No. 1 guard in the country. UCLA offered him before he played a down of high school football. He was at camp between 8th and 9th grade. Three years later he has offers from the majority of the conference and country. See, UCLA, Stanford and other Pac-12 schools are different. Stanford can offer a lot of guys early, but if guys don’t cut it academically, they can go with that. ASU, Colorado, Utah, they have that chance, because they don’t have a huge crop in the state to recruit from. A lot of those kids aren’t going to jump on those offers, they’re going to see if anyone out-of-state offers. UCLA has to be a little bit more deliberate in their offering.”

JG: True, but UCLA has seemed to focus too much nationally, or at least “pipe-dream” nationally, going for major recruits only to finish second or third, while being late on some key SoCal guys. It’s like UCLA is the geek asking the prom queen to junior prom way back in freshman year, and then being confused why she ends up going with the good-looking quarterback. How many times can they finish second or third on a major prospect?
BH: “That’s very valid. That’s really true on the national scale. Neuheisel is trying to be more aggressive nationally, but the danger is you forget guys in your backyard. It’s not so much the geek and prom queen when you can sell yourself to players around the country, get in on a lot of kids. But that’s the problem. You get a couple kids like AO and Kevin McReynolds, but that’s the problem: the batting percentage is not very high. If you land one guy, that’s great and all, but now you’ve forgotten about guys in your backyard.”

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Guerrero statement on student seating

From UCLA:


Members of the Bruin Family:

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that we will continue to have sideline floor seating for students when Pauley Pavilion reopens for the 2012-13 season. Students will occupy the floor level seats along the south sideline and floor level seats behind the west basket, which was originally announced in the summer of 2009, in addition to upper level seats behind the west basket. This configuration can be viewed at The Pauley Pavilion Virtual Venue site will be updated by June 1.

Over the past few months, Athletic Department staff had worked with student leadership groups regarding the design of a cohesive student section behind the basket adjacent to the visiting team bench. After receiving the support of various student leadership and student focus groups, we announced the shift in the student section on March 30.

Two weeks ago, the Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC), one of the leadership groups with which we consulted, decided to solicit additional student feedback by adding an advisory question regarding student seating to the Undergraduate Student Elections ballot. We respected and supported that decision. The results of the election showed that a majority of the students would rather retain the sideline floor level seats than have the unified section behind the visiting team basket.

On April 29, I stated that we would discuss the election results with numerous leaders on USAC, along with leaders of the other groups that are involved with student spirit and we did so before announcing this decision. This is a great group of young people who are completely committed to creating the most energetic and exciting atmosphere for our teams. We are committed to working with these student leaders to do everything we can to increase student attendance and make the experience of “being there” a memorable one. That includes the creation of the Student Enhancement Committee, consisting of student leaders, including newly elected undergraduate President Emily Resnick, who is very enthusiastic about working with the spirit group leaders.

This process reconfirms the tremendous passion that exists on campus surrounding our intercollegiate athletic events. As I have said before, the importance of creating a home-court advantage cannot be understated. An energetic and supportive student section is essential to the success of any team and it is my hope that all of the students who have been involved in this process will support our student-athletes and continue the great tradition of Pauley Pavilion.

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Chat with new UCLA JC O-Line commit Albert Cid

Earlier this morning,’s Brandon Huffman reported that Citrus College offensive guard Albert Cid committed to UCLA recently, spurning offers from Arizona and Utah.

I just spoke with the ready-to-contribute guard, and he had some interesting things to say about his college decision, and what he hopes to bring to the UCLA offensive line.

JG: Albert, talk about your decision to pick UCLA and how it feels to be done with the recruiting process…
Albert Cid: “It was a really relieving decision I made. It was a dream school. It’s a dream school of mine. It felt good making that decision.”

JG: What finally made you pick UCLA?
AC: “I felt that the education, getting a UCLA degree, would be really good for me. Growing up I didn’t care about education, but now I see how important it is. A degree from UCLA means a lot in life.”

JG: I talk to kids all the time who’ve had that kind of epiphany; when did it happen for you?
AC: “It was in high school; my high school coach told me daily to do well in school. Entering my junior year, I said, ‘I’m going to change my life.’ I knew I wasn’t going to get an academic scholarship, but if I got good grades, and did well with football, I thought I could get into a university.”

JG: What made you look past the team’s record last season?
AC: “I feel like I can impact the team right away. I can upgrade the offensive line. I carry myself with a lot of confidence on the football field. No matter where I would go, I feel O could play. I’m physical. I like to play nasty. And I think that’s what the line needs at UCLA. A little nasty.”

JG: Describe nasty…
AC: “I’ve always been a very physical person. When I used to play basketball, I used to foul out a lot. I would be in for two, three minutes, and I would already have three fouls. I’ve always been a physical person and I’ve always played that way.”

JG: What about the football program made you pick UCLA?
AC: “I want UCLA to be a winning program again. I want to be a part of that. I really like head coach Rick Neuheisel. I trust him.”

JG: So tell me about yourself as a football player?
“I’m 6-3, 325 pounds. I’ll pull, pass block, block a defensive tackle, a defensive player, in any way, any way I have to. One thing I like doing is blocking to the whistle. A lot of people make the block and watch the game. No, you block until the whistle. I just like to dominate people. I like the feeling when you dominate somebody and they know you’re going to keep coming for four quarters and not one play.”

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Recruiting reset with Brandon Huffman Pt. 1

Jon Gold: Last year, as the team collapsed to 4-8, all the momentum and all the excitement from early in the recruiting period dried up by October. This year, there’s almost no buzz. Is it even worth following UCLA recruiting now, given how much the in-season performance will mean for the overall class?
Brandon Huffman: Exactly. If you look at the spring going into what became Karl Dorrell’s final season, he had nine commits one day in march. Coming off a win over USC, not that uncertainty of 4-8, some were pegging it as a Top-25 team, and then the wheels fall off. Now you look at this season, and it’s kind of a make-or-break year for Neuheisel, and they still don’t have any guys commit. And it might take a while, too. Probably the earliest would be June when they have their camps. It’s kind of funny because if you look at the year coming off Neuheisel’s first season, their first commit was Julious Moore, he didnt stick, and Tevin McDonald and Wesley Flowers, and that was middle of June. And that was selling a 4-8 season, too.

JG: But isn’t it to be expected, given all the turmoil on the coaching staff and the lack of success…
“No, I don’t think this is what should’ve been expected, especially when you think they went 7-6 in Year Two, but I understand it. Going 4-8 in Year One isn’t tough. You’re just building a program. You go 7-6 and you tell the class, see we just won the bowl game. Now they were 4-8, worse than they were even in Neuheisel’s first season to me, and now what are you selling? You’re selling a true freshman quarterback – albeit with a lot of potential – a lot of turnover with positional coaches, especially at key parts, especially defensive line coach/LA recruiter in Todd Howard. Recruiting has changed so much – you have to get on these guys as sophomores and juniors. You lose that if you fire a coach in January or February of a kid’s junior year.

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Freshman Plutko named Pac-10 POW after Sunday shutout

From UCLA:

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – UCLA freshman right-hander Adam Plutko has secured Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week acclaim for the first time in his career. Plutko threw a two-hit complete game shutout on Sunday afternoon in UCLA’s 4-0 victory, helping the Bruins sweep a three-game Pac-10 series at Oregon.

Plutko faced three batters over the minimum in the Bruins’ 4-0 win on Sunday, recording seven strikeouts and one walk. The resident of Upland, Calif., allowed just one baserunner through the final five innings. He has gone 4-3 with a 1.59 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) as a freshman this spring.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, Plutko ranks second in the Pac-10 in ERA (behind teammate Trevor Bauer) and has posted the sixth-lowest opponent batting average (.194). He is tied for 10th in the conference with 68 strikeouts.

Plutko is the second UCLA pitcher this season to earn the conference’s weekly accolade. Trevor Bauer, a junior from Valencia, Calif., has secured Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week acclaim five times.

Ranked No. 24 in the nation by Baseball America and No. 13 by Collegiate Baseball, UCLA plays five games this week. The Bruins play at Long Beach State on Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) and host UC Santa Barbara at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Wednesday (6 p.m.). UCLA hosts a three-game non-conference series against Cal State Bakersfield beginning Friday, May 13.

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