Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate

Several former UCLA players are hoping to hear their names called at the NFL Draft this weekend, including, clockwise from top left: Takkarist McKinley, Fabian Moreau, Jayon Brown, Eddie Vanderdoes and Conor McDermott. (Photos by Thomas R. Cordova/SCNG; Jae C. Hong/AP; Sam Craft/AP; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images; John McCoy/SCNG)

UCLA has another chance at a first-round draft pick and the Bruins are hoping that it will end better this year than last.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley will be in the green room Thursday for the first round of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, which starts at 5 p.m. PT and is televised on ESPN and NFL Network. McKinley will be joined by UCLA head coach Jim Mora and defensive line coach Angus McClure as he awaits his NFL fate.

Mora said seeing the culmination of McKinley’s dream is “going to be awesome,” but he also recognized the unpredictability of the NFL Draft. Only a year ago, the coach was with former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack when Jack slipped all the way to the second round after being projected as a sure-fire first-rounder.

“The draft though, it’s a beast,” Mora said. “You don’t have any idea. It’s a crap shoot, you don’t have any idea where you’re going to get picked. Hopefully it works out for Takk.”

McKinley is not the only hopeful Bruin this weekend. Cornerback Fabian Moreau is expected to be a high second-day pick, likely going in the second round. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, offensive lineman Conor McDermott and linebacker Jayon Brown are likely third-day guys.

The second day of the draft (the second and third rounds) starts at 4 p.m. PT on Friday and the event wraps up Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds, starting at 9 a.m. PT.

Here are links to prepare for the NFL Draft: Continue reading “Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate” »

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UCLA spring football day 13: The evolution of the tight end

UCLA coach Hank Fraley talks with Caleb Wilson #81 during football practice at UCLA in Los Angeles,Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A group of misfit receivers, converted defensive linemen and a former high-school quarterback has turned into what looks like one of the deepest units on the offensive side of the ball for UCLA this year.

Just one year after officially bringing in the tight end position at UCLA, the Bruins are looking for the group to take the next step in Jedd Fisch‘s offense.

“They ask a lot of us, but if we want to be on the field, that’s what we’re required to do,” Caleb Wilson said.

More about the evolution of the UCLA tight end

Video interviews with Jordan Wilson and Breland Brandt

Here are notes/observations for the day: Continue reading “UCLA spring football day 13: The evolution of the tight end” »

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Jordan Wilson, Breland Brandt after practice April 26

Tight end Jordan Wilson talks about who is on his team for the spring game, what he’s improved on the most, and who he goes to for help among the tight ends group.

Linebacker Breland Brandt talks about learning the strongside linebacker position and what he learned in the past year at UCLA.

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UCLA spring football day 12: Mora finalizes spring game plans

UCLA running back Brandon Stephens #20 during football practice at UCLA in Los Angeles,Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The teams are set, the guest coaches are on board. The UCLA spring game is officially a go.

Head coach Jim Mora has finalized plans to have a live spring game on Saturday at Drake Stadium. He hasn’t revealed the rosters for the blue and white teams yet, but said there will be two national-championship-winning guest head coaches on the field.

In front of what they hope will be a big crowd, the Bruins intend to impress their fans while climbing back from their disappointing season last year.

“It gives us a chance and an opportunity to show them (the fans) what we’ve been working for and working at this whole spring ball,” sophomore running back Brandon Stephens said.

More details on UCLA’s spring game.

Photo gallery from practice

Video interviews

Here are notes/observations for the day: Continue reading “UCLA spring football day 12: Mora finalizes spring game plans” »

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