Fall camp preview: Wide receivers/tight ends

UCLA lost a 6-foot-7 target in tight end Joseph Fauria, but quarterback Brett Hundley shouldn’t have hard time finding capable pass-catchers. Although the Bruins return only one player who caught for more than 300 yards last season, they have a deep, young group with plenty of upside.

Key returners: Shaq Evans enters his senior season as one of the conference’s better receivers. A stable presence for UCLA both as a route-runner and blocker, he should be in line for more red-zone targets in addition to building on his 800-yard junior campaign.

Opposite Evans will be sophomore Jordan Payton, a thick-bodied target who displayed good hands almost every spring practice. Redshirt sophomore Devin Lucien is more physically gifted than Payton, but isn’t as consistent. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Utah’s Jordan Loveridge sheds 25 pounds

» Promising Utah forward Jordan Loveridge has dropped 25 pounds since March, spurred in part by his father’s recent diabetes diagnosis. The 6-foot-6 rising sophomore didn’t want his dad to diet alone.

“As close as we are, it’s something that’s made us closer,” Bill Loveridge told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We talked about it once, and then we’ve just kind of gone out and done it.”

» Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will serve one day in jail for his guilty DUI plea. How long should he be suspended?

» Stanford is the only FBS school that employs African-Americans as athletic director, football head coach and men’s basketball head coach. Is that a big deal? David Shaw: “I think it is a story that it’s not a big story. That’s a great story!” Continue reading

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Prospect watch: 2014 point guard Robert Cartwright

Robert Cartwright, 6-2, 168
Flintridge Prep | L.A. Rockfish
Scout: Four stars | Rivals: Three stars

Robert Cartwright is a well-rounded player who projects as a good four-year point guard, but one who hasn’t drawn too much attention from high-major programs. He was impressive dishing on the break at last weekend’s Pangos Sweet 16, feeding a teammate with one particularly nice behind-the-back pass.

Cartwright isn’t an exceptional athlete and looked a little smaller than his listed 6-foot-2 height, but he works hard on the defensive end. He played through the tournament with stitches under his right eye, and also had a bruised lip by the end. He can hit his pull-up jumper consistently and isn’t afraid to take it, hitting big shots down the stretch in L.A. Rockfish’s 59-58 overtime win Sunday over the Las Vegas Prospects.

He recently picked up offers from Stanford and San Diego State, and also has schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Utah and Colorado after him. Continue reading

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Four-star receiver Austin Roberts commits to UCLA

Despite not having visited UCLA as a recruit, four-star receiver Austin Roberts announced his commitment today, giving the Bruins four wideouts in their 2014 class.

At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Roberts has the size to slide into the Y-receiver/tight end spot for UCLA, which didn’t offer him until last week. He caught for 378 yards and five touchdowns during an injury-plagued junior season at Carmel (Ind.) High, and won a Class 8A championship at Plant High in Tampa, Fla., the year prior.

Roberts also had offers from Ohio State, Florida and Alabama, but had cancelled a Monday visit to Tuscaloosa. Continue reading

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Shaq Evans makes Biletnikoff watch list

UCLA receiver Shaq Evans, who enters his senior season with All-Pac-12 first team potential, made the 75-man watch list for the Biletnikoff Award. The 6-foot-1 wideout is the clear leader of a deep, young receiving corps, and should improve his 2012 totals of 877 yards and three touchdowns.

Actually winning the Biletnikoff will be tough, given that USC’s Marqise Lee returns this season with a very good shot at taking the trophy for the second year in a row. Lee was the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, as well as a unanimous All-American.

Lee would be the second straight receiver to win consecutive Biletnikoff Awards, following Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon’s wins in 2010 and 2011. Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree is the only other back-to-back winner (2007-08).

This year’s watch list also included five other Pac-12 receivers: USC’s Nelson Agholor, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Cal’s Chris Harper, Oregon’s Josh Huff and Colorado’s Paul Richardson.

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(Bi-)Weekly Q&A — 7/15/13 Answers

Q: I am concerned we, or coach Alford, haven’t signed any basketball recruits let alone kids from LA. What is the deal?

Only one week of the July evaluation period has elapsed, so it’s not time to panic yet. Four other Pac-12 schools don’t have any commitments yet, and only Arizona State has multiple commitments. If UCLA whiffs on point guard Josh Perkins though, it might be in trouble. Jordan McLaughlin is the other top option, but hasn’t indicated that he’s leaning toward any team and said he plans on taking visits even into fall.

Q:In your opinion, is any of the hyped up hysteria on certain Bruin blog sites about Steve Alford’s lucrative contract and his projected ability to succeed — three months before official practice even starts — justified, or do some bloggers simply have nothing better to do? Continue reading

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Wanaah Bail out four months after knee surgery

Freshman Wanaah Bail had surgery on his left knee to repair torn cartilage on June 28, UCLA announced today. The 6-foot-9 forward is expected to be out four months, a setback from what teammate Jordan Adams had predicted last week as a four-to-six week recovery window.

Bail’s eligibility for 2013-14 is still undetermined, the school said. The athletic forward, who originally signed to Texas Tech in 2012 but left soon after, would give the Bruins some athleticism in the frontcourt.

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UCLA leads Butkus Award watch list

UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt all made the 51-man watch list for the Butkus Award. The Bruins tied BYU with three players on the list, the most of any team.

Barr and offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo were also mentioned for the Lombardi Award watch list, though that ballooned to over 100 names. The award is given to a down lineman on either side of the ball, or linebacker who lines up within five yards of the ball.

No UCLA player has ever won either award. The Pac-12′s last Lombardi winner was Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs (2002), and its last Butkus winner was USC’s Chris Claiborne (1998).

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Prospect watch: 2014 point guard Jordan McLaughlin

Jordan McLaughlin, 6-0, 170
Etiwanda High | Prodigy Elite
Scout: Four stars | Rivals: Four stars

Jordan McLaughlin started off slowly at this past weekend’s Pangos Sweet 16, but later attributed some of that to having just flown back from Philadelphia’s Reebok Breakout Classic. The CIF champion flashed quick hands and good leaping ability, especially considering his still-slight frame. On one play in the Pangos final, he cut off a pass easily and took it down the court for an easy dunk. McLaughlin also showed impressive body control near the rim, and was able to finish while either taking or avoiding contact.

He’ll likely continue to grow, which is a great sign coupled with his athleticism. Both Steve Alford and David Grace watched McLaughlin multiple times at the Long Beach event, as were USC’s Andy Enfield and other coaches from schools recruiting him.

Q: What parts of your game are you working on this summer? Continue reading

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