David Berg returns to UCLA, but will No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken join him?

UCLA ended the week on a great note.

Closer David Berg, named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and a first-team All-American in 2013, elected to return to the Bruins for his senior season — turning down a chance to go pro after being selected by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round.

Shortly after his announcement, even bigger news dropped: the Houston Astros failed to sign a pair of high schoolers in No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-round selection Jacob Nix. Both pitchers originally signed with UCLA in November, but could elect to enroll at a junior college or join an independent league, making themselves available to reenter the draft next year.

If they decide to go to UCLA, they will need to stay at least three years before going pro.

Regardless, Berg’s decision is a tremendous boon to a team that is coming off a 25-30-1 season, its worst mark since head coach John Savage first arrived on campus in 2005. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Brady Aiken, Jacob Nix remain unsigned as MLB deadline nears

» No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-rounder Jacob Nix, both of whom signed with UCLA, have yet to come to terms with the Houston Astros. The deadline to sign draft picks is Friday at 2 p.m. PT.

» Most fans aren’t happy with Utah’s newest mountain-sleeved Under Armour jerseys.

» Hall of Famer and former USC star Ronnie Lott calls Oregon “the greatest,” but admitted that UCLA is “the team that everybody’s talking about right now.”

» Oregon State’s new basketball assistants will earn a combined $535,008 annually. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley earns spot on Davey O’Brien Award watch list

This award isn’t the focus of his school-run campaign, but UCLA’s Brett Hundley was tapped for another watch list on Wednesday.

The redshirt junior made the 39-man watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, given each season to the top college quarterback in the country.

Hundley is among the six semifinalists from last year to return on the watch list. He is joined by 2013 winner Jameis Winston (Florida State), Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Sean Mannion (Oregon State), Braxton Miller (Ohio State) and Bryce Petty (Baylor).

Earlier this month, the UCLA star also made the watch list for the Maxwell Award for national college player of the year.

Here are the other Bruins who have landed on various preseason watch lists so far: Continue reading

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UCLA football introduces new ‘L.A. Steel’ gray alternate uniforms

Here is UCLA football’s latest alternate look: a gray, sort-of-shiny jersey called “L.A. Steel.”

Introducing new uniforms has become a bit of an annual event for the Bruins, who unveiled “L.A. Midnight” last year and “L.A. Nights” the year before that.

UCLA’s press release called the latest iteration the first gray uniform in school history. The gloves come together to form a “UCLA” script also featured on the pants, and a print of the Los Angeles skyline appears along the compression sleeves. Its Shockweb compression technology also supposedly “clings tightly to the body, making players more difficult to tackle.” Continue reading

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The preseason Pac-12 media poll …

UCLA football single-game tickets went on sale today, which makes it just as good as any to fill out the annual Pac-12 Media Poll.

Here it goes …

North Division

1. Oregon — Mark Helfrich hasn’t proven that he can keep the Ducks in perennial title contention, but the return of star quarterback Marcus Mariota

2. Stanford — The Cardinal never seem to drop off, but losing three All-Pac-12 offensive lineman — including consensus All-American David Yankey — and four all-conference first-team defenders might be enough to knock them down a bit.

3. Washington — An eight-year run at Boise State ended with an eight-win season, the only time Chris Petersen failed to notch double-digit wins as a head coach. Matching that total in the tougher Pac-12 would be a decent debut for him. Continue reading

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Center Fred Ulu-Perry becomes third offensive lineman in UCLA’s 2015 class

UCLA landed its third commitment of the week in center Fred Ulu-Perry, just the latest prospect to join the Bruins’ offensive line.

Ulu-Perry, who can also play guard, is rated three stars by Rivals.com — which first reported the commitment Friday — and four stars by Scout.com.

The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Honolulu St. Louis product was among those who participated at Nike’s The Opening in Eugene, and his announcement was preceded by fellow campers Andre James — a four-star tackle — and athlete Stephen Johnson also verbally pledging to UCLA this week.

Four-star lineman Tevita Halalilo also committed to the Bruins in April.

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Four-star offensive tackle Andre James commits to UCLA

UCLA has added yet another piece to its young and promising offensive line, one that started three true freshman for through half of its 10-win 2013 season.

On Thursday, four-star tackle Andre James committed to the Bruins during a ESPNU broadcast from Nike’s The Opening in Eugene. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman from Herriman is ranked by Rivals.com as the third-best prospect in Utah and the 28th-best at his position nationwide. Scout.com ranks him as the country’s No. 13 tackle.

Picking UCLA over Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC, he touted his athleticism as his strength, telling The Oregonian, “Punch is always important and technique is always very important. But if you can move well, you can be coached well.” Continue reading

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Three-star athlete Stephen Johnson commits to UCLA

UCLA has added a speedster to its 2015 class.

Three-star athlete Stephen Johnson committed to the Bruins on Tuesday afternoon during a ESPNU broadcast from The Opening, picking them over Oregon and other several other Pac-12 programs. The San Leandro (Calif.) High product had clocked a 4.37-second 40-yard dash earlier that morning.

Rivals.com ranks him the 33rd-best athlete in the country — as well as the 45th-best prospect in the state — while Scout.com ranks him as the 30th-best cornerback.

Johnson is the eighth verbal commitment in UCLA’s next signing class.

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Myles Jack leads Bruins on early national awards watch lists

Less than two months stand between now and the start of college football, and the rush of preseason watch lists is starting up.

Unsurprisingly, Myles Jack pops up more than once.

UCLA’s do-it-all linebacker and part-time running back landed on watch lists for both the Paul Horning and Bednarik Awards. Jack was one of five finalists for the former last season, given to the most versatile player in the country.

He is joined on the Bednarik watch list for top defensive player by fellow Bruin linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Quarterback Brett Hundley, whom UCLA is marketing as a Heisman candidate, is on the watch list for the Maxwell Award for player of the year.

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UCLA starts training camp in San Bernardino on Aug. 4

As has become tradition under head coach Jim Mora, UCLA will hold its preseason training camp in the isolation and heat of the Inland Empire.

The Bruins will start practicing at Cal State San Bernardino on Aug. 4 at 3 p.m., and continue every day except Sundays through Aug. 16. They will then return to their Westwood campus for another week of practices.

UCLA football training camp schedule

Monday, August 4 – Practice #1, 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 5 – Practice #2, 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 6 – Practice #3, 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, August 7 – Practice #4, 3:00 p.m.
Friday, August 8 – Practice #5, 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 9 – Practice #6, 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, August 9 – Practice #7, 7:00 p.m. Continue reading

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