UCLA’s all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin forced to retire after neck injury

At 24 years old, Johnathan Franklin’s career is already over.

UCLA’s all-time leading rusher will retire from the NFL after just one season, his career ended by a neck injury that sidelined him in Week 12 last year. The 5-foot-11 back was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 — lower than both he and many analysts expected — but was nonetheless overjoyed to head to the Green Bay Packers.

However, Franklin only carried the ball 19 times for a touchdown and 107 yards — 103 of which came in a Sept. 22 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Continue reading

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Seali’i Epenesa signs with New England Patriots as final roster addition

One more Bruin is keeping his NFL dream alive.

Nose tackle Seali’i Epenesa wasn’t among the five UCLA players drafted last month, but signed with the New England Patriots as its 90th roster addition. The 6-foot-1, 310-pound lineman started 17 games over his last two seasons in Los Angeles, but was beaten out late last fall by true freshman Kenny Clark.

Epenesa recorded 16 tackles as a senior, as well as the lone sack of his career.

NFL teams cut their rosters to 75 players after the third preseason weekend, and to the regular-season maximum of 53 shortly after that.

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Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks to represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Days

Junior quarterback Brett Hundley and senior linebacker Eric Kendricks will represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Days in late July, alongside Bruins head coach Jim Mora.

The event will be held at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on July 23 and 24, expanding to two days for the first time. UCLA will be available to most media on latter of the two days, taking the podium at 10:50 a.m.

You can see the full Pac-12 Media Days schedule below. Continue reading

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UCLA listed as early favorite in all but one game in 2014

Heading into a season with national title hopes, UCLA has Las Vegas on its side.

The Golden Nugget released lines this week for 200 “Games of the Year” and have the Bruins as favorites in eight of the nine games featured. Oregon is a 3-point favorite at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 11, after romping to a 42-12 win over UCLA last season in Eugene.

The downtown Vegas casino gave UCLA narrow edges over Washington (-3.5), USC (-4.5) and Stanford (-3), but also made the team a three-touchdown favorite in the season opener at Virginia and again on Oct. 18 at Cal.

Odds weren’t listed for games against Memphis, Utah and Colorado — teams that combined for a 12-24 record last season.

The full set of early lines for UCLA: Continue reading

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Alumni Q&A: Darren Collison looks back on first season with Clippers

Since helping UCLA to three straight Final Fours, Darren Collison has embarked on what is turning into a bit of a journeyman’s career. He’s played for four teams in five seasons, and transitioned from being a starter in Indiana to a capable backup in Dallas and Los Angeles.

But even though he’ll be a free agent again this summer — opting out of $1.9 million — he insists he wants to stay in his hometown.

Collison talked a bit this week about his first season with the Clippers, the current state of UCLA basketball, as well as his basketball camp for middle schoolers starting June 23.

How did your first season with the Clippers go?

I think as far as the team, we expected to go deeper. We expected to win it all. That didn’t quite go well. It’s stuck with us even now. I think it’s going to be a motivating factor even now. we understood the road that we came from. we felt like we were right there.

My intention is to stick with the Clippers. They’re a good team. Good teams like San Antonio and Miami have stuck with the same core. I’d love to stay for three to four years, but there has to be a mutual agreement.

How does this summer of free agency for you compare to last year’s?

Last year, it was just putting myself in a position where I could find myself again as a player mentally. I’ve been through a lot. The previous season with Dallas, I still had a good season, but mentally I just felt like I needed to be a part of a team that was going to try to win it all. That was my intention. To try and be a part of a team that was going to win a championship.

This year, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just my value went up. I understand that. But I don’t want it to affect my decision with the Clippers. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: O’Bannon trial continues with testimony from economics professor

» O’Bannon v. NCAA rolled on through Tuesday with testimony from Roger Noll, a Stanford professor emeritus of economics. Noll, who calls the NCAA a ‘cartel’, has testified for seven-and-a-half hours through the first two days and will take the stand again Wednesday.

Former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon took the stand on Monday.

» Jeremy Bloom, a two-time Olympic skier and former Colorado All-American receiver, shared his thoughts on the NCAA. Bloom was declared ineligible for football in 2004 due to endorsements he received as a pro skier, but was still taken in the fifth round of the NFL draft.

» Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said eliminating National Signing Day could make sense. Continue reading

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UCLA lineman Scott Quessenberry’s brother David diagnosed with lymphoma

Houston Texans right tackle David Quessenberry was diagnosed with lymphoma on Tuesday at age 23, a week after entering the hospital with coughing and fatigue.

The former sixth-round pick is the eldest brother of Scott Quessenberry, who started six games at left guard for UCLA as a true freshman last season. Another brother, Paul, is a defensive end at Navy.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“My fight has just begun,” Quessenberry tweeted Tuesday. “As long as I have breath in my lungs, I will fight this disease and I will win.”

Two oncology experts said Quessenberry faces a high-grade, life-threatening form of cancer that requires immediate treatment. He’s expected to face months of chemotherapy during a process that could last years. The many forms of lymphoma and multiple recovery scenarios make Quessenberry’s future health status difficult to predict. But his high “performance data,” including youth and excellent physical shape, should work in his favor if treatment goes well

“It’s a rapidly growing lymphoma. … But the tumors that grow most rapidly are usually the ones most sensitive to chemotherapy,” said Dr. Martha Mims, chief of hematology and oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Best wishes go out to the Quessenberry family.

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Pac-12 announces 11 a.m. TV window for football to reduce night kickoffs

The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it will introduce an 11 a.m. PT television window to reduce the number of night games that conference teams play this upcoming football season.

The morning kickoffs will replace an evening time slot on Pac-12 Networks, though exactly how many there are will be determined as the season progresses.

“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the Conference,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans — both in our stadiums and in the television audience — will benefit.”

The change is a move away from Scott’s stance last season, when he repeatedly defended the league’s frequent late starts by deferring to TV numbers. Continue reading

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Relief pitchers David Berg, Jake Ehret become final Bruins taken in MLB draft

A pair of relief pitchers capped the MLB draft for UCLA on Saturday, becoming the third and fourth Bruins taken this year.

Star closer David Berg went to the Texas Rangers in the 17th round as the 516th overall pick, 91 selections after teammate Jake Ehret was drafted in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Lightly recruited out of Bishop Amat High, Berg made 101 appearances in his first two seasons at UCLA — setting an NCAA single-season record with 24 saves during the team’s 2013 national championship run. He also became the first reliever to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.

Limited by strained bicep for part of his junior season, Berg still finished with a 1.50 ERA and 11 saves. Ehret had a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings as a righty setup man.

UCLA signee Griffin Canning, another right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 38th round by the Colorado Rockies.

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Myles Jack, Malcolm Bunche lead UCLA on Phil Steele’s preseason All-Pac-12 list

Is UCLA’s best offensive player … Malcolm Bunche?

Maybe in the wonky world of preseason all-conference teams. College football writer Phil Steele released his All-Pac-12 selections today, going four lineups deep on offense, defense, and special teams.

Seven Bruins made the four offensive teams, but the one ahead of them was arguably the strangest pick in the entire list. Bunche is no doubt an important piece of UCLA’s offensive line this upcoming season, but he transferred from Miami in the first place because he lost playing time. It’s also unclear whether the 6-foot-7 lineman is best suited at guard at tackle, though he practiced more at the former in spring.

Quarterback Brett Hundley, right guard Alex Redmond, and Y-receiver Thomas Duarte each made the second team, with Duarte slotted in at tight end. Continue reading

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