(Bi-)Weekly Q&A — 7/29/13 Answers

Q: Do you think Brett Hundley can win the Heisman in his time at UCLA? Obviously Clowney is a great player, but I think Barr is just as good if not better. Your thoughts? Can Mora turn UCLA into the Bama of the west?

I think Hundley can develop into a Heisman-level player, but so much of the politics surrounding that depend on how UCLA does as a team in addition to his own performance. Barr has a legitimate chance to make himself the top defensive player in the country; by the end of the season, it could be a toss-up as to who is better. As for UCLA becoming Alabama West, I doubt it; three national titles in four years puts the Crimson Tide on a plateau of its own. Just reaching a BCS bowl or making the new College Football Playoff regularly will be very impressive for Jim Mora and company.

Q: If Brett Hundley kills it this season, does he consider leaving early in the 2014 NFL Draft? Or does that depend if there are enough pieces to make a run at least a Pac-12 title in 2014 if not more?

I think he’ll likely return to UCLA. Even elite quarterbacks rarely leave after just two seasons (e.g. Andrew Luck), and Hundley won’t have much to lose with another year of seasoning. Sam Bradford had a legitimate chance to be the No. 1 pick in 2009 as a redshirt sophomore. He returned to Oklahoma, lost most of the season to injuries, and still went first overall.

Q: What was the final status on the class of 2012 recruits who had problems enrolling? I believe Jeremy Castro and Eli Ankou eventually grayshirted, correct? What about Javon Williams? If they play this year, do you expect any of these players to be in the mix for playing time?

Jeremy Castro grayshirted and enrolled in January, but Eli Ankou managed to enroll and joined the team in early September. Javon Williams did not qualify and left for Iowa Western C.C. He intends to transfer back into the Pac-12, but not necessarily to UCLA.

Q: Why is the football recruiting devoid of momentum? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being absolute panic), how dire is the situation?

I’d say a three. Just too early in the cycle to stress out, but I think other head coaches playing a greater role in recruiting is hurting UCLA somewhat.

Q: Since covering UCLA for the Daily News, ballpark, how many times have you received inside information that you could not immediately report on?

Probably 5-10 times, with tips of varying importance. Anything coaches say about recruits is also off the record, since it would be an NCAA violation to comment publicly.

Q: In your opinion, is the football team improving over these summer months? When coach Mora came to UCLA, he talked about being a year-round program.

Players are definitely making major strides physically. Most striking is Anthony Barr going from 240 pounds in spring to a massive 255 at Pac-12 Media Day. Ellis McCarthy has also slimmed down to around 325. I think there will be more concern for some of the incoming freshmen to get in shape for the season. (Apologies for missing this question in the last Q&A.)

Q: Is the Daily News going to send you to San Bernardino? If so, are you doing anything special to prepare?

Yes. I’ll have a lot of daily reports and videos, like a stepped-up version of spring camp coverage. A UCLA football iPad app is also in the works, though still in the nascent stages right now. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see, both on the blog or in the app.

Q: When a student athlete has to retire because of medical reasons, does he also lose his scholarship? If so, is there any way he can get financial assistance if he wants to stay in school?

Players usually stay on scholarship, but aren’t counted toward the NCAA scholarship limit of 85.

Q: Why did Brad Stevens choose the Celtics job, but not want the UCLA job?

He and his wife/agent now say he wouldn’t have left Butler for any other college job. Even if you account for them likely trying to spare the program’s feelings, there is less downside with a move to Boston. He’s not expected to win immediately, and has a chance to mold the franchise exactly the way he wants. He has a chance to prove himself at the NBA level after already being tabbed as one of the college basketball’s elite coaches. And even if the job Just look at Rick Pitino.

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