Eric Kendricks named first-team All-American by Sporting News

UCLA’s Eric Kendricks was named a first-team All-American today by the Sporting News, part of a clean sweep by Pac-12 linebackers.

Alongside Kendricks on the Sporting News list are Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha and Arizona’s Scooby Wright — both of whom were tabbed as unanimous All-Americans.

Kendricks became UCLA’s all-time leading tackler this season and won both the Butkus Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, but settled for second team on most of the five major All-American teams. In addition to the Sporting News, the other lists used to determine consensus and unanimous All-American status are the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press, the AFCA and the FWAA.

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Eric Kendricks wins UCLA’s second straight Lott IMPACT Trophy

The Eric Kendricks award tour just keeps on rolling.

On Sunday, UCLA’s senior linebacker won the Lott IMPACT Trophy, becoming the second straight Bruin to win the award after former All-American Anthony Barr. Given each year to the top defensive player who also exhibits off-the-field character, the award was founded in 2004. This is the first time two players from the same school have ever won.

RELATED: Eric Kendricks may be just the latest piece in UCLA’s new linebacker pipeline.

Kendricks beat out three other finalists: Alabama defensive back Landon Collins, Duke linebacker David Helton, and Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha. The Lott IMPACT Trophy also comes with a $25,000 contribution to UCLA’s general scholarship fund. Continue reading

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Jeff Ulbrich reviews first season as UCLA’s defensive coordinator

Jeff Ulbrich talked at length with the media on Friday, hitting everything from what it meant for Eric Kendricks to win the Butkus Award, to Jim Mora’s long-term future at UCLA, to — of course — how he’s evaluated his first season as UCLA’s defensive coordinator.

Despite a starting lineup loaded with future pros, the Bruins have been inconsistent on defense this season, holding Arizona’s explosive offense to seven points only to allow 31 to Stanford four weeks later. It was a year that saw the 37-year-old Ulbrich take significant criticism for not generating enough of a pass rush: UCLA is tied for 85th in the country with 22 sacks, 15 of which came in the final six games.

“Guys that I’ve been around a lot (in my career), their philosophy regarding scheme and calling a game is always put the game in the players’ hands,” Ulbrich said. “Keep it simple. Be great with fundamentals and technique, alignment, assignment. Let them know it and understand it at a high level so they can play fast and physical.

“The problem is that college football’s a little different. You’re seeing so much exotic stuff on offense, that you almost have to balance that with being exotic in your own right at times just to keep them off balance. … I gained a better understanding of that as the season went on.”

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UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks named Walter Camp All-American

Two days after winning the Butkus Award, UCLA’s Eric Kendricks has also become an All-American.

The senior linebacker made the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s second team on Thursday. Despite already winning the preeminent honor at his position, he fell behind three others that made the first team — two of whom he has seen on the opposite sideline: Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha, Arizona’s Scooby Wright, and TCU’s Paul Dawson.

The Walter Camp team is one of five used to determine consensus and unanimous All-American status, although those do require a first-team mention. The other teams are selected by the AFCA, FWAA, Associated Press and Sporting News.

Anthony Barr was a consensus All-American last season, missing out only on the FWAA first team. UCLA’s last unanimous All-American was Maurice Jones-Drew, who earned his nod as an all-purpose player/kick returner.

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UCLA’s Eric Kendricks win Butkus Award for top college linebacker

Eric Kendricks can now officially call himself the best linebacker in college football, even if Pac-12 coaches don’t think so.

After being left off the All-Pac-12 first team last week, UCLA’s all-time leading tackler received the Butkus Award on Tuesday morning — becoming the first Bruin to ever win in the trophy’s 30-year history.

Even former teammate Anthony Barr, a consensus All-American and ninth overall NFL draft pick, settled for a finalist spot behind Alabama’s C.J. Mosley.

In a statement, the Butkus Award selection committee called this year’s race “as close as any (in) the past decade,” and said it included eight write-in candidates. Continue reading

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Eric Kendricks named one of four Lott IMPACT Trophy finalists

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks celebrates an interception with his teammates during the Bruins' 38-20 win over USC on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks celebrates an interception with his teammates during the Bruins’ 38-20 win over USC on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks had to settle for All-Pac-12 second team last night, but today he became a finalist for a second major national award.

The Bruins’ all-time leading tackler is one of four candidates left for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given each year to a top defensive player for both his on- and off-field contributions. He is joined by Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, Duke linebacker David Helton and Alabama safety Landon Collins.

Former UCLA All-American linebacker Anthony Barr won the Lott IMPACT Trophy last season, which netted a $25,000 donation to the school’s general scholarship fund. Founded in 2004, the award has yet to be granted to multiple players from the same program.

Kendricks is also one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, given to college football’s best linebacker.

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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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UCLA’s Jake Brendel earns third Pac-12 All-Academic selection

UCLA center Jake Brendel was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic first team this morning, marking his third straight appearance on the list.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive lineman has a 3.39 GPA in economics and has started 38 of 39 possible games in his career, sitting out the Bruins’ season opener at Virginia with a knee injury. Without him, UCLA’s offensive line allowed five sacks and committed five false starts in a performance lambasted by position coach Adrian Klemm.

The redshirt junior is one of seven players in the conference to earn a spot on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team for the third time. Continue reading

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Eric Kendricks named Butkus finalist, Pac-12 Player of the Week

Eric Kendricks’ stellar season is garnering more and more recognition. UCLA’s senior linebacker became a Butkus Award finalist on Monday, and also picked up his second Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.

Kendricks is the second Bruin in as many years to be named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given each year to college football’s top linebacker. No UCLA player has ever won the Butkus; All-American linebacker Anthony Barr lost out to Alabama’s C.J. Mosley last season.

This year, Kendricks’ stiffest competition is likely Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who has 23.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. Kendricks has the edge in tackles (128 to 63) and interceptions (three to zero), but has just seven tackles for loss and two sacks. Continue reading

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