Jim Mora announces UCLA’s six captains for 2014

» UCLA voted on team captains last Thursday, and Jim Mora announced the picks Tuesday morning. Not a lot of surprises: on offense, quarterback Brett Hundley and center Jake Brendel; on defense, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa; on special teams, linebacker Ryan Hofmeister and fullback Taylor Lagace.

» Mora was confident that Brendel, who is recovering from an MCL injury, will be ready to play in the Bruins’ Aug. 30 season opener at Virginia.

Cornerback Marcus Rios (migraines) is seeing a specialist today. He missed a number of practices in San Bernardino before returning late in the week for sideline work. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley appears on second Sports Illustrated cover in three weeks

brett SI cover

Another week, another Sports Illustrated cover. Brett Hundley landed at the front of the magazine once again, this time as part of SI’s college preview.

Two weeks ago, Hundley was featured on a regional cover teasing a Lee Jenkins’ feature story — an appearance that already had teammates calling him “SI.”

The coming issue will be the 127th time that a Bruin has appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover. Other versions of this week’s SI magazine feature Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

Online sportsbook Bovada.lv also released odds for various college football stats this morning. Brett Hundley’s over/under stat line looks quite reasonable: 3019.5 passing yards, 604.5 rushing yards, and 33.5 combined passing and rushing touchdowns.

As a redshirt sophomore last season, Hundley passed for 3071 yards, rushed for 748, and scored 35 touchdowns — including 11 on the ground.

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Left tackle Malcolm Bunche giddy about protecting Brett Hundley’s blind side

Transfer offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche gushed on Tuesday about being chosen to man the most important position on the offensive line in front of Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley.

The graduate student who transferred from Miami (Fla.) in time for spring practice has played every position on the offensive line during his college career and is projected to start at left tackle in UCLA’s season opener.

“It’s a tremendous honor playing the blind side for one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college football,” Bunche said. “I just got to keep grinding, working hard on the position and protect my man Brett.” Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Quarterback Brett Hundley comments on O’Bannon ruling

» UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley talked about the offense’s progress so far into training camp. Active in the National College Players Association, the junior also commented on the recent ruling in O’Bannon v. NCAA — one that could dramatically change college athletics (2:30 mark in the video above).

Although the NCAA intends to appeal, judge Claudia Wilken ruled that student-athletes could be paid up to $5,000 per year.

“It’s nice to have the athletes coming after me to be able to live a little more comfortably than we all did,” Hundley said.

» Crossing the halfway point of training camp in San Bernardino, tensions between the Bruins rose a bit on Monday morning. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Receiver Mossi Johnson returns to practice after shoulder injury

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

» Mossi Johnson appears to have avoided the worst. After leaving Monday’s practice with a left shoulder injury, he returned on Tuesday to participate in some light individual drills.

Head coach Jim Mora said Johnson — a surprise performer at inside receiver this spring — was diagnosed with a second-degree AC sprain. Johnson will likely be held out of full contact for two weeks, but an earlier return isn’t out of the question either.

In addition to being an obvious physical setback, a serious injury could have dealt a heavy emotional blow to a player that had already grayshirted the 2013 season to rehab multiple torn knee ligaments.

Elsewhere on the injury front, true freshman linebacker Cameron Griffin left Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder injury of uncertain severity. Linebacker Zach Whitley has been somewhat limited the first two days due to cramps.

» Tuesday’s best play can be credited to Myles Jack, who snatched a remarkable interception during one-on-one drills. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley featured on Sports Illustrated’s regional cover

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley graces the regional cover of Sports Illustrated.

Brett Hundley, bringin’ it.

Brett Hundley is standing among the pros this week.

Heading into his final collegiate season, the UCLA quarterback made a regional cover of Sports Illustrated, one that teases a feature written by Lee Jenkins. The issue includes top-32 position rankings for fantasy leagues, with every other version of the magazine cover featuring an NFL running back.

The Green Bay Packers’ Eddie Lacy graces the national cover, while the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles and the Philadelphia Eagles’ LeSean McCoy made the two other regional covers.

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UCLA notes: Jim Mora warns against stereotyping Brett Hundley as ‘runner’

» Brett Hundley led UCLA with 748 rushing yards last season, but head coach Jim Mora emphasized at Pac-12 Media Days that his quarterback is — first and foremost — a passer.

“I say that about Brett because people have a tendency at times to see an African-American quarterback and say he’s a runner,” Mora said. “And I hate that stereotype. I always have. I coached Mike Vick. I believe we stereotype those guys started with that, and I don’t want that to happen with Brett.

“I’m going to make sure it doesn’t. It shouldn’t. The guy’s a passer, man, but he can run.”

» Mora smiled when asked about the weather in San Bernardino, where UCLA will start training camp on Aug. 4: “I hope it’s hot. I would just like us to be in triple digits. As long as we’re in triple digits, I’ll be happy.”

Unlike last summer, UCLA will not go down to San Diego for a three-day pre-camp session with Navy SEALs. Mora said the experience helped his team later in the season — particularly when it needed to bond together through the death of receiver Nick Pasquale — but didn’t want to dull the impact by repeating it too often.

» What does two-way superstar Myles Jack have in store for his sophomore season? Not even his teammates are sure.

“I’m excited,” said linebacker Eric Kendricks. “I don’t even know what to expect. He put on 15 (pounds) of muscle. He’s gotten so much stronger. He’s been working hard. That’s all you can ask of a guy. He doesn’t let any of this hype, this circle of fame get to his head.” Continue reading

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Quarterback Brett Hundley doesn’t care about ‘big superstar’ status

It’s getting harder and harder for Brett Hundley to walk around unnoticed. This offseason, the redshirt junior has made the rounds the media rounds, been slapped on a budding Heisman campaign, and featured in a sketch video touting him as UCLA’s “Campus Enforcer.”

About par for the course when you turn down NFL riches for one last shot at collegiate glory. Hundley knows the Bruins have been marked as a dark-horse national title candidate. He knows that, lest the team stumbles, the hype is only going to grow with each passing week.

So, what is he thinking?

“I think I feel more confident and relaxed this season,” Hundley said Thursday, shortly before a UCLA official shuttled him off to yet another interview spot.

The Bruins were arguably the biggest attraction at the latter half of Pac-12 Media Days, drawing a crowd even during an impromptu game of cornhole on the Paramount Studios lawn. It helps that Hundley doesn’t seem to care. Continue reading

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