Q: How is Lacy Westbrook doing in his recovery from brain surgery?
A: Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said Westbrook is doing fine and enrolled at UCLA not too long after the operation for his aneurysm. There haven’t been any setbacks in terms of his recovery and the staff will see how the former four-star recruit does in spring.
Q: Hearing anything regarding the football coordinators? Anyone being discussed about bolting for another program?
A: Noel Mazzone is still the hottest name on the staff, and he’s certainly no stranger to switching jobs. However, he’s said he is happy at UCLA, and the opportunity to coach a likely future Heisman contender in Brett Hundley isn’t something found everywhere. The most hotly rumored spot is Texas A&M, which already has a Heisman winner in Johnny Manziel and recently lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to Texas Tech’s head coaching vacancy. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin worked with Mazzone when they were both Minnesota assistants in the early 1990s.
Q: Why did Howland cut Shabazz so much slack on the weight issue? What are the odds on Howland returning next year? Is there a buyout?
A: Howland has a history of showing some favoritism with star players, but I don’t think that’s as much an issue with Shabazz, who has played OK considering his shoulder injury and ineligibility to start the season. A big part of what made him a top recruit was also how hard he usually plays, so he’s not a guy that should need much prodding to get in shape. What’s surprising is that he didn’t adopt a stricter diet until a less than two weeks ago. No excuse for that.
The coach’s chances at staying don’t look great right now, but the players could very well buy him another year if they start clicking late in the season. Muhammad is probably the only one-and-done, and UCLA’s next recruiting class is all shooting guards. It would also take over $3 million to buy out Howland. For comparison, Rick Neuheisel’s buyout only cost about $250,000.
Q: Because Cal and UCLA often recruit the same players, what is your take on the Sonny Dykes hire and the impact on UCLA recruiting? Any update on UCLA’s basketball or football recruiting? How much does our successful football season and win over SC help us?
A: Sonny Dykes should give Cal’s recruiting some boost, but the effect probably won’t be as pronounced until high schoolers actually get to see how that new offense looks. Still, I don’t see his arrival in Berkeley giving the Bears much of an advantage over UCLA. Winning matters, and the Bruins had one of the more remarkable and attention-grabbing turnarounds in the country. Jim Mora and his staff is also no slouch when it comes to recruiting. The USC game especially gave UCLA a nice boost; not all players let their decisions come down to one game, but the Trojans are clearly the city’s waning power.
Basketball has a top-25 class right now buoyed by guards Zach LaVine and Allerick Freeman, ranked just inside and outside the top 50, respectively. Still in play is top-30 recruits Rysheed Jordan, a 6-foot-4 point guard from Philadelphia. He took an official trip to UCLA late last month but looks to be leaning toward St. John’s and Temple.
Three-star offensive tackle Sean Dowling reopened his recruiting earlier this week after previously verbaling to UCLA, but the Bruins have seven other commits on the line, including a few that could compete for starting spots. Main target now is receivers; only have a pair of three stars on board right now.