UCLA football links: McKinley in several NFL mock drafts

Senior Takkarist McKinley is getting ready to finish his UCLA career with a homecoming to the Bay Area. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova, Press-Telegram/ Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Takkarist McKinley (98) became a first-round NFL draft prospect with an impressive senior season during which he led the Bruins in sacks and tackles for loss. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova, Press-Telegram/ Daily Breeze/SCNG)

With three months left until the NFL draft, several mock drafts are still high on UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley.

McKinley had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss during his breakout senior season for the Bruins and is a first-round pick mock drafts from USA Today’s Draft Wire (28th overall, Dallas) and CBS Sports (29th, Pittsburgh). NFL.com lists McKinley as the No. 22 prospect in the 2017 draft. The Draft Wire also had UCLA offensive tackle Conor McDermott going in the third round (90th overall) to Seattle.

McKinley, known for his speed and his outgoing personality, also promised that he would run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

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How I voted in the college basketball AP poll: UCLA is my No. 1

Aaron Holiday vs UtahEarly in the season, I was stubborn about ranking UCLA above other teams with similar records. My reasoning? A team that finished with a losing record last season needed to earn their standing more so than the other elite teams near the top of the rankings. UCLA was the only team in the entire preseason top 25 that finishing under .500 last season.

At this point, I think the Bruins have earned it. I was just one of three voters to rank them No. 1, likely because Villanova (2) and Kansas (4) each have a much higher RPI than UCLA (17). But it’s not UCLA’s fault that Michigan, Ohio State and Texas A&M aren’t any better this season.

What UCLA does best – run and shoot 3-pointers – it does better than anyone in the country. I’m not sure that Kansas and Villanova can say that. I don’t think either of those two teams can say they have the best player in the country, either. Lonzo Ball has made a legitimate case for that honor.

How I voted in the Week 11 men’s basketball AP poll:
1. UCLA
The Bruins are coming off their first sweep of Pac-12 road games in Steve Alford’s tenure, a comfortable win at Colorado and a squeaker at Utah, which is looking like a top tier conference foe. It shouldn’t be forgotten UCLA’s one loss was on a last-second 3-pointer to an Oregon team looking like a juggernaut right now.
2. Villanova
3. Kansas
4. Baylor

Last week’s AP poll No. 1 team still has the top RPI in the country even with a loss. I think Baylor was unfairly dropped to No. 6 by the voters because their one loss this week was so lopsided. And it should be noted the 21-point was to West Virginia, the No. 7 team in the country.
5. Kentucky Continue reading

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UCLA ‘soft verbal’ commit My-King Johnson flips to Arizona

Three-star defensive end My-King Johnson, who offered a soft verbal commitment to UCLA earlier this month, has flipped his commitment to Arizona.

Johnson (6 foot 4, 225 pounds) is the top defensive end in Arizona, according to Scout.com. Without the Tempe, Ariz., native, the Bruins still have a number of defensive line commits in the class of 2017. Five-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips leads the group, followed by four-star defensive tackles Greg Rogers and Martin Andrus. UCLA also has a commitment from JuCo transfer defensive end Cassius Peat, but Peat is still taking visits.

The Bruins have 14 commits with National Signing Day coming on Feb. 1.

UCLA’s commits so far: Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes accepts invite to Senior Bowl

Eddie Vanderdoes celebrates a sack against Tyrone Swoopes #18 of the Texas Longhorns at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Eddie Vanderdoes celebrates a sack against Tyrone Swoopes #18 of the Texas Longhorns at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, the organization announced Monday. Vanderdoes, a fourth-year junior, is able to play in the showcase event despite leaving UCLA with a year left of eligibility.

One year removed from an ACL injury that ended his true junior season, Vanderdoes started 12 games for the Bruins in 2016. He was the target of constant double-teams and tallied 29 tackles with 1.5 sacks in his last year at UCLA.

Seven former UCLA players are expected to play in all-star games this month prior to April’s NFL draft: Continue reading

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Mora: Klemm firing ‘is in the best interest of the program’

UCLA football practice at California State University in San Bernardino, Saturday, Aug., 9, 2014. (Eric Reed/For LANG)

UCLA football practice at California State University in San Bernardino, Saturday, Aug., 9, 2014. (Eric Reed/For LANG)

UCLA officially announced the firing of offensive line coach and run game coordinator Adrian Klemm on Monday. Reports of the coaching change surfaced Sunday night.

The Bruins have coaching vacancies at running back and offensive line with National Signing Day quickly approaching on Feb. 1. UCLA just split with one of its top recruiters and has only three offensive line commits: Kanan Ray from Sierra Canyon High, Jaxson Kirkland from Jesuit High in Portland, Ore., and Jax Wacaser from Saguaro High in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Here is head coach Jim Mora‘s full statement on the firing, released by the school:

“Adrian is a friend, which makes change difficult sometimes. But right now, this is what is in the best interest of the program. I know Adrian will be successful in all his future endeavors. He has played a major role in the lives of the young men he has coached and mentored here in Westwood, many of whom now have careers in the NFL. I want to thank him for that commitment to our student-athletes over the years and his dedication to this program.  Most of all, I want to wish him all the best moving forward.”

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