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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Alamo Bowl notes: UCLA ends 10-win season with new milestones

» With its 40-35 win over Kansas State in Friday’s Alamo Bowl, UCLA has now reached 10 wins for the ninth time in school history. The Bruins are now riding just their third-ever streak of back-to-back 10-win seasons, with the first two coming in 1997-98 and 1987-88.

Including K-State, UCLA played 10 teams that earned bowl berths, tying them for second-most in the country. The only exceptions were Virginia, Cal and Colorado.

» In his career finale, quarterback Brett Hundley didn’t have his best passing game, finishing 12 of 24 for 136 yards and a touchdown. He started the game 10-of-12 before a run of seven straight incompletions. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said afterward that Hundley’s right hand was still a bit sore from the finger injury that forced him out of UCLA’s loss to Stanford in November.

But Hundley did plenty of damage with his legs, running 11 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The Bruins followed the blueprint that TCU used to beat K-State, 41-20, on Nov. 8. Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin also only threw for one touchdown, but ran for three scores and 123 yards. Boykin’s proficiency on the ground also helped open up lanes for tailback Aaron Green, who had 171 yards.

“Brett went to town with his legs, for sure,” said receiver Jordan Payton.

Hundley improved his UCLA career records to 75 touchdown passes and 11,713 total offensive yards.

» Paul Perkins ran for a career-high 194 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries, including a 67-yard scoring run with 2:20 left in the game that gave UCLA a 40-28 lead. His rushing total was the third-most in Alamo Bowl history, and earned him the game’s offensive MVP award. Continue reading

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UCLA 40, Kansas State 35: Jim Mora, Bruins talk after Alamo Bowl

UCLA head coach Jim Mora and the Bruins spoke to the media following a 40-35 win over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, one that clinched a second straight 10-win season. During the press conference, Mora grew testy when asked about the team’s inability to close out games — as well as when asked about what appeared to be a handshake snub with K-State coach Bill Snyder.

Also on the podium were quarterback Brett Hundley, linebacker Eric Kendricks, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and running back Paul Perkins.

Kendricks and Perkins were named Alamo Bowl MVPs on their respective sides of the ball.

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What to watch in Alamo Bowl: No. 14 UCLA vs. No. 11 Kansas State

This is it. The final game of UCLA’s season has arrived, with the Bruins set to close their third campaign under Jim Mora by hitting 10 wins for the second straight year. The Alamo Bowl matchup against Kansas State will pit Mora against Bill Snyder, who has led a very different career arc, and also be a goodbye tour for quarterback Brett Hundley, and seniors such as linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

A few things to watch for in today’s 3:45 p.m. PT kickoff at the Alamodome:

Can UCLA limit Jake Waters as a running threat? It’s no secret that the Bruin defense has been stretched a bit this season when faced with dual-threat quarterbacks, but the team will probably be better prepared given the month-long layoff since it last played.

Waters is a bit of a different runner than most Pac-12 runners. He’s not as physically imposing at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, and he readily admitted that this week. But he runs tough and deliberate, though those scampers are usually more built into K-State’s offensive playcalling rather than pure, freelance scrambling.

The Wildcats are undefeated this season when Waters runs for at least one score, although he’s found the end zone with his legs just once in his last six games. UCLA’s defense will need to be careful not to overpursue to keep that number down.

Will any K-State skill players not named Tyler Lockett stand out? The 5-foot-11 wideout is the Wildcats’ all-time leading receiver and arguably its best pro prospect, but even big games by the All-American don’t necessarily guarantee wins for his team. Continue reading

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Mora: Alamo Bowl won’t override Brett Hundley’s body of work

UCLA had barely touched down in San Antonio on Sunday afternoon when the NFL draft again reared its head.

Shortly after the Bruins were welcomed at their team hotel by a three-man mariachi band, someone asked a question that will no doubt pop up again this week: Will the Alamo Bowl be quarterback Brett Hundley’s last chance to audition for the pros?

Head coach Jim Mora said emphasized that NFL scouts likely wouldn’t weigh one game more heavily than the 39 others that the third-year starter has played at UCLA.

“You look at the body of work,” Mora said. “Now, you’re also looking for patterns. What gives a guy trouble or where he excels. In that respect, one game can start to predict a pattern. But I think if you’re an instant evaluator, if you go off one game or one throw or one tackle or one quarter, that’s where you run into failings. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley’s finger injury won’t keep him out of Alamo Bowl

When Brett Hundley accidentally whacked his right hand against a helmet two weeks ago, his finger swelled up so much that he couldn’t finish out the end of UCLA’s 31-10 loss to Stanford.

On Friday morning, after the Bruins held their first formal practice since that regular-season finale, one of the first questions the quarterback faced was: “So can we see the finger?” Hundley smiled and held up both his hands. No one could pick out the damaged digit.

So no, it shouldn’t keep him out of the Alamo Bowl against Kansas State on Jan. 2, which will be his last game in a UCLA uniform. Continue reading

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Jim Mora: Quarterback Brett Hundley’s finger is ‘fine’

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is “fine” after injuring his finger in the 31-10 loss to Stanford that ended the Bruins’ regular season.

Hundley injured a finger on his right hand and could not finish the game against the Cardinal. The redshirt junior had an ice pack taped to his hand afterward.

Asked about Hundley, Mora stuck to his favorite answer regarding injuries: “He’s fine.”

Mora also confirmed again that the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 will be Hundley’s final game before declaring for the NFL draft — something both the quarterback and his teammates had said before. Hundley originally stated in January that his third season with the Bruins would be his last, following his announcement that he was passing on the 2014 NFL draft.

Hundley was named to the All-Pac-12 second team this month, though his inconsistent play this season likely affected his NFL stock.

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UCLA’s All-Pac-12 selections led by … Ishmael Adams?

UCLA's Ishmael Adams, pictured breaking up a pass intended for USC's Nelson Agholor, was the lone Bruin on an All-Pac-12 first team. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

UCLA’s Ishmael Adams, pictured breaking up a pass intended for USC’s Nelson Agholor, was the lone Bruin on an All-Pac-12 first team. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

Another round of All-Pac-12 awards, another chorus of approval from across the conference.

Just kidding. As always, postseason honors generate a good amount of chatter, as fans of every team ask why their favorite players were snubbed. But even considering that type of bias, UCLA’s placements on the all-conference teams on Tuesday night were … particularly eye-raising. (You can see the full results, as voted on by Pac-12 head coaches, at the bottom of this post.)

The biggest surprise was Ishmael Adams’ status as the Bruins’ lone first-team pick. Five defensive backs were featured instead of the usual four due to ties, but the scrappy 5-foot-8 cornerback might not even be the best on his own team. The problem is consistency. He made his share of big plays — he returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season — but also saw moments where he gave up key catch or committed a costly penalty.

His presence on the All-Pac-12 first team was even more striking considering the absence of linebacker Eric Kendricks, who recently broke the Bruins’ all-time tackles record. The senior settled for a second-team spot, behind Arizona’s Scooby Wright — the league’s defensive MVP — and Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha and Shaq Thompson. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley (again) says he is likely declaring for NFL draft

When Brett Hundley announced in January that he was coming back to UCLA for his redshirt junior season, he made clear that this would be his last run with the Bruins.

“We won’t be here doing this again next year,” the quarterback said then.

Since then, he’s said a few more times that nothing has changed. But just in case anyone is keeping track of how often Hundley needs to tell everyone he’s gone, here’s the latest.

“There’s a really good chance that was my last game against USC,” Hundley said on The Jim Rome Show today. “The conversation keeps coming up. I’ve got my degree. I’ve done everything I wanted to do here. I’ve left something really, truly great, and I feel good. That’s probably my last one against USC.”

Hundley has a chance to beat Stanford this week and Oregon in the Pac-12 title game — two teams that have haunted him — but said after practice today he isn’t worried about how that affects the scope of his career.

“I think I’ve done a lot throughout my career here,” he said. “Hopefully, we pull out this win on Friday. You can’t worry about what you have done, what you haven’t done.”

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