COACH JIM MORA: First of all, thanks to everybody for coming out today. We’re excited to be here and I’m excited to be sitting between these two fine, young men, great student‑athletes, the pillars of our program, both great players, better young men. I think they are great ambassadors for UCLA and college football in general. We’re excited about the direction of our program.
We made some progress last year, and I think these two guys would tell you we’re nowhere close to where we want to be. We have a vision, we’re headed in the right direction but we have challenges we have to overcome this year in order to become the team that we desire to be.
First and foremost in those challenges is we have a very depleted secondary and we’re going to be playing four players back there, or five or six, whatever package we’re in that really haven’t played, ever, at this level. So that will be a challenge. Our schedule is a challenge. This conference that we play in is a challenge, but I think these young men would tell you that being the competitors that they are and we are as a football team we relish those challenges. We can’t wait for those challenges, we embrace ‘em and look forward to ‘em and we’re going to rise up to ‘em. We’re excited to be here, welcome your questions, and thank you.
Q: Coach, as a new coach last season you made some risky moves, maybe because of the fact that you were new. Can we expect similar risky moves in place this season? Continue reading
CULVER CITY — Any Pac-12 fans that still have DirecTV should mark the date their contract expires.
Commissioner Larry Scott said at Friday’s Pac-12 Media Day that negotiations for the satellite provider to carry the Pac-12 Network are still at the same “impasse” that existed last year. He made it clear that the conference will not be able to reach an agreement with DirecTV for the upcoming football season, and said he wanted to say so now to allow fans an opportunity to switch.
“I urge our fans that are intent on not missing their team’s games this fall to drop DirecTV and switch to one of the many providers that have it,” Scott said. “All of our coaches and athletic directors that previously had DirecTV have now switched to a provider that has it and they are urging their fans to do the same.” Continue reading
Here are the full results of the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with first-place votes in parentheses. Few surprises down the line, as Oregon was named both the North Division and conference favorite. UCLA was named the South Division favorite, and also receive three votes as the Pac-12 champion.
1. UCLA (12) … 130
2. Arizona State (9) … 124
3. USC (4) … 113
4. Arizona … 73
5. Utah … 58
6. Colorado … 27
1. Oregon (14) … 139
2. Stanford (11) … 134
3. Oregon State … 91
4. Washington … 81
5. Cal … 45
6. Washington State … 32
Pac-12 Champion: Oregon (13 votes)
Others: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)
Thomas Welsh isn’t a flashy player, but true 7-footers are rare at any level of basketball. The Loyola standout has boosted his stock significantly over the past few months, impressing coaches with soft hands. He’s not a dominant inside presence, but can hit a turnaround jumper or a 10-footer along the baseline. He can catch and shoot accurately from the elbow, and also showed nice form at the free-throw line. Very vocal on the defensive end, he uses his length well to grab boards and contest shots.
Welsh said he has spent this summer focusing on his footwork and quickness. A high-end projection for him could be former North Carolina All-American Eric Montross, who won an NCAA championship in 1993 and spent eight seasons in the NBA.
In addition to UCLA, Welsh is fielding offers from schools such USC, Cal, Gonzaga and Arizona State. He said he doesn’t have any visits planned yet for the near future, though he took an unofficial to Cal in June. He added that distance from home isn’t a factor.
Q: What schools are recruiting you the hardest right now?
Still the Pac-12 and WCC schools. It’s been pretty even.
Q: Do you plan on deciding by the early signing period in November? Continue reading
Though football commitments don’t count for much in July, UCLA’s slow start to the 2014 cycle has nevertheless disappointed some fans.
The decommitment of offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor won’t help. A top JUCO recruit who had picked the Bruins in early June, Eluemunor starred at Lackawanna C.C. in Scranton, Pa., just a few years after moving from London, England. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound tackle had openly discussed his interest in other schools for weeks, and tweeted Wednesday that he had cut UCLA from his list. He will choose either Arkansas or Ohio State on Friday.
JUCO lineman Dominick Jackson also flipped to Alabama in late June a few weeks after initially picking the Bruins. UCLA now has four commitments in the 2014 class, all of them wide receivers.
UCLA safety Dietrich Riley has taken a medical retirement after missing all of the 2012 season due to a neck injury, ending the career of a once-touted four-star recruit. The Los Angeles Times first reported the news.
The 6-0, 200-pound rising junior would have been the most experienced member of the Bruins’ secondary, a unit that lost all four of last season’s starters. He had not played since colliding with Cal running back Isi Sofele in October 2011, an injury that required him to undergo single-level fusion surgery.
Riley had sounded optimistic about his chances to return, saying that his neck felt even stronger than it did before the operation. He also injured his shoulder during spring practices and was held out of most full-contact drills.
» Two Arizona players joined Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA: All-American linebacker Jake Fischer, and transfer kicker Jake Smith.
Trevon Bluiett is a skilled swingman who boasts a diverse offensive game. He played for UCLA assistant Ed Schilling when the coach worked at Indianapolis’ Park Tudor School, and won the state championship game MVP as both a freshman and a sophomore. That feat becomes even more notable once you consider that he played with Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell during that first title run. Continue reading