Barr returning for senior season

Happy new year, UCLA fans. Anthony Barr is officially staying one more season.

The Bruins’ best defensive player became an All-Pac-12 first team selection in just his first season at outside linebacker, and was also a second-team AP All-American. The junior was widely thought of as a potential first-round pick had he decided to declare for the NFL Draft.

Barr first officially announced his return on Twitter Monday afternoon: “As close as I am to my dream of playing in the NFL, I believe one more year with this awesome coaching staff and my teammates is what’s best. I will be returning for my senior season to further develop as a player and a person, to help lead this team to a Pac-12 Championship and ultimately a national championship.”

Measuring at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Barr made a remarkable transformation after switching from offense under former head coach Rick Neuheisel. Continue reading

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Shabazz named Pac-12 Player of the Week, Bruins still unranked

Shabazz Muhammad was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after his 27 points against Missouri — which dropped from No. 7 to No. 12 after the upset at Pauley Pavilion. The freshman’s standout performance that included two key 3-pointers in overtime. It’s the first such honor for the Bruins since Lazeric Jones got it in March. Still, the Bruins surprisingly weren’t able to crack the AP poll: they got six votes, which would put them at No. 34. No. 3 Arizona is the conference’s only ranked team. Colorado received three votes.

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Christian Morris iffy on UCLA commitment

On Dec. 22, four-star offensive tackle Christian Morris tweeted this: “Recruitment is completely shutdown no interest in other colleges strictly with my #Bruins 100% that don’t mean I’m burning my bridges.”

That no longer looks to be the case. At the Army All-American Bowl yesterday, Morris told Rivals that he will take an official visit to Tennessee, and likely Oklahoma as well. He likes the Vols’ hire of Cincinnati’s Butch Jones and plans to visit Knoxville on the weekend of Jan. 11. He added that he is still “97 percent” committed to the Bruins.

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has been destroying the recruiting trail in recent months, and Morris was a solid addition — a 6-foot-6, 293-pound tackle that had a shot at playing immediately. Still, teenagers are indecisive and it doesn’t look like panic time yet for UCLA fans.

Watching the Bruins lose 49-26 on ESPN (and on his birthday!) may have prompted Morris’ wavering, but so could family issues. The Memphis native also tweeted that his aunt had been diagnosed with cancer on Christmas.

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Weekly Q&A — 12/29/12 Answers

Q: Do you expect a leap in the growth of Brett Hundley between year one and two of his playing career at UCLA?

A: Yes. He still looks like UCLA’s best draft prospect in years, and there’s no reason why he won’t improve over the next eight months. The most glaring flaw is his tendency to hold on to the ball for too long, but that’s fixable. Noel Mazzone and his son Taylor have shown success grooming quarterbacks in the past. Talent surrounding him should help a bit too, although no one back will adequately replace Johnathan Franklin. The offensive line will almost certainly improve. Joe Fauria is gone, but next year’s receiving corps should have some depth, particularly with the addition of Eldridge Massington.

Q: What round do you see Johnathan Franklin getting chosen in? Do you think his reputation of fumbling in his earlier years will hurt his status?

A: He could go as high as the third round, but is probably the safest bet for fourth or fifth. Continue reading

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‘Tui’ leaves to become Washington QB coach

Marques Tuiasosopo will become Washington’s quarterbacks coach, the school announced Saturday. Contract negotiations are not yet finalized, but UCLA’s Y receivers coach will head back to his alma mater, where he will likely double his pay.

Tuiasosopo is a Husky legend who led Washington its last Rose Bowl win and was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2000. He was also the first player in NCAA history to pass for 300 yards and run for 200 in the same game.

He made $100,000 at UCLA (via USA Today). The two assistants who recently left Washington, running backs coach Joel Thomas and wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, each made just over $190,000 this year.

His father, Manu, was an all-conference defensive lineman for the Bruins in the late 1970s. Continue reading

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