Five UCLA players named to Outland, Nagurski Trophy watch lists

While preseason award watch lists don’t mean much, it’s fitting that Kenny Clark got spots on two of them this morning.

One of UCLA’s most valuable players, the junior defensive tackle made lists for both the Outland Trophy — for best lineman on either side — and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, for college football’s best defensive player.

He was joined in the former category by senior center Jake Brendel, who was also listed for the Rimington Trophy this week, as well as fellow defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes.

The two other Bruins watch-listed for the Nagurski were linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Fabian Moreau.

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UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn named to Lou Groza watch list

UCLA senior Ka’imi Fairbairn is one of 30 names watch-listed for the Lou Groza Award, given each year to the top kicker in college football.

Fairbairn has been very consistent throughout his career from inside the 35-yard line, having hit 29 straight from that range, but also been scrutinized from his struggles from longer distances. The Hawaiian native is 11 of 22 on career attempts of at least 40 yards.

Semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 5, with threw finalists named on Nov. 23.

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UCLA to debut new mesh-style ‘Primeknit’ home uniforms

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These are UCLA’s new home uniforms this season, featuring a mesh-style design that will no doubt be universally embraced by fans.

In an announcement that will cause no consternation among the Bruin faithful, UCLA said that the new “Primeknit” design pays homage to the school’s “tradition of grit and toughness.” The phrase “Champions made here” is stitched on the collar ribbing.

The new look will debut at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 5 against Virginia.

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UCLA center Jake Brendel makes Rimington Trophy watch list

For the second year in a row, UCLA offensive lineman Jake Brendel is on the Rimington Trophy watch list.

The Bruins’ fourth-year starter is one of 63 potential candidates up for the award, which has been given to the top center in college football since 2000. No center from the Pac-12 — or from any school west of the Rocky Mountains — has ever won it.

Brendel, who has started 39 out of 40 possible games, also had a spot on the preseason watch list heading into the 2014 season. The Dallas-area native is one of the most important members of UCLA’s offensive line, which appears to have some stability after being ranked near the bottom of the country in sacks allowed in each of the past three seasons.

In addition to Brendel, who had a strong spring camp, UCLA returns left tackle Conor McDermott, whose introduction to the starting lineup last season dramatically improved the unit’s performance. The rest of the first-string line is still somewhat fluid, but guards Alex Redmond, Scott Quessenberry and Kenny Lacy as well as tackles Simon Goines and Caleb Benenoch all have starting experience.

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UCLA tailback Paul Perkins named to Maxwell Award watch list

UCLA’s Paul Perkins earned a spot this morning on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, a trophy no running back has won in over a decade.

Obviously, this alone does not necessarily predict a tremendous season. There are 80 names populating the preseason watch list, 35 of whom are tailbacks. And as the spread offenses proliferate in college football, passing numbers are rising along with the use of backfield rushing committees.

To figure out the Bruin junior’s chances at the Maxwell, given to the top player in the country since 1937, let’s first look at the last four winners.

Year Name Carries Yards Avg Rush TD Catches Yards Rec. TD
2002 Larry Johnson 271 2087 7.7 20 41 349 3
1999 Ron Dayne 337 2034 6.0 20 1 9 0
1998 Ricky Williams 361 2124 5.9 27 24 262 1
1995 Eddie George 328 1927 5.9 24 47 417 1

Looking at these four seasons, 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground seems like the bare minimum — with only George missing out on the yardage mark. All four players also led teams that won at least nine games, and finished top-15 in either the final Coaches’ poll or the AP poll.

In the last few years, however, even those criteria haven’t been enough. Continue reading

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