UCLA’s Anthony Jefferson joins Senior Bowl, Eric Kendricks out

UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson stands over Oregon receiver Keanon Lowe after making a tackle at the Rose Bowl during the Bruins' 42-30 loss on Oct. 11, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson stands over Oregon receiver Keanon Lowe after making a tackle at the Rose Bowl during the Bruins’ 42-30 loss on Oct. 11, 2014.
(Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Quarterback Brett Hundley declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but another UCLA player became a late add to the all-star roster: defensive back Anthony Jefferson.

Spending time at both corner and safety, Jefferson made 72 tackles and eight pass breakups this season, ranking third and first for the Bruins, respectively. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound defensive back was one of six UCLA players to make the All-Pac-12 second-team defense.

UCLA’s only other Senior Bowl participant will be defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Continue reading

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Tight end Alize Jones flips from UCLA to Notre Dame

Tight end Alize Jones has officially decommitted from UCLA and picked Notre Dame, ending a relationship with the Bruins that had cooled for weeks.

The Las Vegas Bishop Gorman product is rated the second-best tight end in the country by both Scout.com and Rivals.com, with the former granting him five stars to the latter’s four. UCLA has spent its recent recruiting efforts focused on No. 1 tight end Chris Clark, who is regarded as a better blocker than Jones.

Clark — a 6-foot-5, 253-pounder from Avon (Conn.) Old Farms School — decommitted from Michigan in early December, but the Wolverines piqued his interest again by hiring head coach Jim Harbaugh.

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about UCLA’s 83-66 win at USC

UCLA point guard Bryce Alford scored 21 points in the Bruins’ win at USC on Wednesday, his highest total in more than a month. The sophomore poured in 15 after halftime, and finished 8-of-14 from the field — including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

He had shot 20.6 percent in his last five games.

“It’s just confidence,” Alford said. “You see a couple go down, you see a couple of tough ones go down — I made a couple of tough ones today. A couple of fadeaways that, I know that I don’t need to take, but sometimes when you’re feeling it and it goes in, it’s a good shot.”

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VIDEO: Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s 83-66 win at USC

Asked what the difference has been for UCLA — which has won three straight — head coach Steve Alford referred repeatedly to location.

The Bruins had lost five games in three different time zones before returning the Pauley Pavilion to earn its first two Pac-12 wins of the season. On Wednesday night, it tacked on a third in an 83-66 win at USC.

“I really think getting home (helped),” Alford said. “We’ve talked about it, and I’ve tried not to make it sound like an excuse, because I know people can spin it that way. It’s not an excuse. I mean, look at it. There’s not another BCS school that went 26 days (between home games).

“And then look at the trips we take. Chicago. Back home for Christmas. Back to Westwood. Then to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Then back to Westwood. Then to Colorado, Utah. … Guys got a little bit tired. We get home, we get a little more energy.”

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UCLA’s Ellis McCarthy announces early entry into NFL draft

UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy warms up before the Bruins' 17-7 win against Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 1, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy warms up before the Bruins’ 17-7 win against Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 1, 2014.
(Keith Birmingham/Staff)

In a surprise move, UCLA defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy announced on Tuesday his decision to enter the NFL draft.

The junior, who did not start in any games this season, is the only Bruin to go pro early besides quarterback Brett Hundley — who had announced his own intentions to leave a full year ago.

“After careful consideration and prayer, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2015 NFL Draft,” McCarthy said in a statement he released on Twitter. “This was an extremely difficult decision but it is best for my family and myself. I will always be grateful for the opportunities the Bruin Nation has presented to me academically and athletically.”

A five-star recruit in 2012, McCarthy never fulfilled the hype that accompanied him out of Monrovia (Calif.) High, located less than 10 miles east of the Rose Bowl. Continue reading

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UCLA earns first top-10 finish in Associated Press poll since 1998

For the first time in 16 years, UCLA has finished the season as a top-10 team.

The Bruins earned a No. 10 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, released a few hours after Monday night’s conclusion to the first-ever College Football Playoff. It marks UCLA’s highest year-end placement since its No. 8 ranking following the 1998 season.

That campaign ended in a Rose Bowl loss, and since then, the Bruins have been left out of all but three final AP polls. They finished No. 16 after both the 2005 and 2013 seasons.

You can see the complete final 2014 rankings below: Continue reading

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UCLA forward Kevon Looney named Pac-12 Player of the Week

After the best weekend of his UCLA career, true freshman Kevon Looney earned his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.

The rangy 6-foot-9 forward helped the Bruins break their five-loss streak with a dominant effort in Thursday’s double-overtime win over Stanford. In the 86-81 victory, Looney poured in an absurd line: 27 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and a block. He was the first UCLA player to have that many points and rebounds in a game since Ed O’Bannon in 1994.

His follow-up effort against Cal on Sunday wasn’t bad either. Looney led UCLA with 15 points in the 73-54 win, and also chipped in seven boards, two assists and two steals. Continue reading

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