Brett Hundley among NFL draft early entries leaving with degree

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

In addition to his many spots in the UCLA record books, quarterback Brett Hundley has joined another small club.

The NFL draft early entry deadline passed last Thursday, and 84 players were declared eligible for selection. Of those, 10 — including Hundley, who majored in sociology — notified the league that they had already graduated.

The others are: Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes, Auburn receiver Sammie Coates, Akron receiver Zach D’Orazio, Louisville defensive back Charles Gaines, Colorado State running back Dee Hart, Kansas receiver Nigel King, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith, and Appalachian State receiver Tacoi Sumler.

The NFL granted the remaining 74 players special eligibility because they had been out of high school for at least three years. The Pac-12 accounted for 16 of those athletes, a tally that dipped from the 98 that left school early in 2014.

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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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