Speculation about Vanderdoes ranged from character concerns to an academic fall out. Vanderdoes’ coaches continued to rave about his upstanding character on Monday, and his father Eddie Vanderdoes on Monday night texted of his son, “One thing I can tell you is grades or eligibility is not and has never been an issue.”
Placer football coach Joey Montoya affirmed Vanderdoes’ academic eligibility, and praised his character as well. Regardless of reason, he seems set to leave the Irish before even arriving in South Bend.
Should Notre Dame release him from his letter of intent, the blue-chipper could very well be headed to UCLA. Although he also had USC and Washington hats on the table, Vanderdoes’ other major finalist was Alabama, a destination the Irish may wish to block. (Correction: Schools cannot block destinations once they release a player from a letter of intent. All or nothing.)
Given that Vanderdoes was the biggest recruit UCLA missed on, securing him would be a major coup for a defensive line that was banged up through spring practice. Though he’s primarily a 4-3 tackle, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound prospect could also play as a 3-4 end.
Originally expected to miss all of fall after undergoing hip surgery, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa could return in time for UCLA’s season opener.
The rising senior had missed spring practice after offseason surgery to repair damage in his left hip. Last Tuesday, he had surgery to repair what was feared to be a tear in his right hip, but the operation revealed only fraying. Head coach Jim Mora said Odighizuwa could return in as soon as two or three months.
“I think it’s conceivable that he could be ready for the start of the year,” Mora said. “I think what’s important is that we make sure he’s 100 percent before we ask him to go back out there. We’ve got to move slowly and efficiently.” Continue reading →
UCLA’s preseason schedule continues to fill up, with the latest development being a home-and-home series with Alabama (per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein). The Crimson Tide, who finished 23-13 last season and lost to Maryland in the NIT quarterfinals, will play at Pauley Pavilion this upcoming fall.
One of the first questions asked of Shabazz Muhammad at the NBA draft combine this week was, unsurprisingly, about his age. The former No. 1 recruit’s one-and-done season at UCLA had begun with a suspension and ended with a bizarre report that his father, Ron Holmes, made his son one year younger.
After confirming again that he is 20 years old, Muhammad hinted that the blame lay solely with his father.
“I’m gonna talk for myself now,” he said. “I was a guy who used to just play basketball and let some of my guys talk for me, family members. Right now, I’m more mature as a person.”
Muhammad may also be the only lottery pick who is participating in the NBA draft combine workouts. Top prospects typically opt out since they don’t have much to gain, and arrive instead for interviews. The reigning Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year said he chose to participate because he always wants to complete. “I’m not running from anybody,” he told ESPN’s Andy Katz. Continue reading →
Over a month after his sudden departure from Albuquerque, Steve Alford has agreed to a buyout with the University of New Mexico.
The UCLA basketball coach will pay a $300,000 buyout, according to a statement from the Bruins. UNM officials announced Friday afternoon that Alford’s buyout will produce a “net benefit” of $625,000, but UCLA stated that the rest of that sum will come from bonuses the coach had previously given up when he terminated his contract with the Lobos. A buyout agreement has not yet been signed.
Alford took the UCLA job on March 30, just ten days after agreeing to a 10-year extension with New Mexico. After the 48-year-old signed a seven-year, $18.2-million deal with the Bruins, New Mexico said that Alford owed the $1 million buyout stipulated in their new agreement.
The coach instead offered $200,000, the buyout indicated on his prior contract. He had never signed a finalized contract — only a term sheet contingent on one — but the Lobos argued that since Alford had not given proper 30-day notice, the new one still took effect on April 1.
UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks were both named today to the Lott IMPACT Trophy’s 42-man watch list. The award, founded in 2004, is given annually to a college defensive player for both on-field performance as well as personal character. Eleven Pac-12 players made the latest list, but Cal’s Dante Hughes is the conference’s only winner — though Arizona State’s Pat Tillman and Stanford’s Owen Marecic both received honorary trophies.
Barr ranked second nationally with 13.5 sacks in 2012, and is projected as a top-10 NFL draft pick entering his second season on defense. Kendricks led the Pac-12 with 150 tackles, the most by a Bruin since Jerry Robinson’s school-record 161 in 1978.
The defensive line, one of UCLA football’s most battered units this spring, just suffered its biggest loss. Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa will likely miss the 2013 season after undergoing his second offseason hip surgery.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the news Tuesday that Odighizuwa had the operation for a frayed rotator cuff in his right hip. Once the five-star gem of the Bruins’ 2010 recruiting class, he had sat out all of spring practice while recovering from surgery on his left hip.
Coach Jim Mora said last Monday that Odighizuwa was healing well, but needed to get his right hip checked. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound end was a likely successor for Datone Jones, who recently became UCLA’s first first-round draft pick since 2006. Odighizuwa finished with 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last season, and will have one year of eligibility left after if he redshirts this fall. He totaled 32 tackles through his freshman and sophomore years. Continue reading →
Q: What is the status on Lacy Westbrook? Will he be cleared to play by the fall or will he take a medical retirement? Could you follow-up on the medical condition of the players that have taken a medical retirement under Coach Mora?
Not sure if medical retirement is in Lacy Westbrook’s future, but he doesn’t seem likely to return for the start of fall. I’ll try and catch up with the other guys in the next weeks.