Fairbairn, Brendel to sign as undrafted free agents

Ka'imi Fairbairn (left) and Jake Brendel will sign as undrafted free agents. (Photos by (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz and Keith Birmingham // Pasadena Star-News)

Ka’imi Fairbairn (left) and Jake Brendel will sign as undrafted free agents. (Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz and Keith Birmingham // Pasadena Star-News)

After eight UCLA Bruins were picked in the NFL Draft, two more agreed to sign as undrafted free agents. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn agreed to a deal with the Houston Texans and center Jake Brendel will head to Texas as well, signing with the Dallas Cowboys.

Fairbairn was the 2015 Lou Groza Award winner as the most outstanding place kicker in the nation. He is the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer and finished his UCLA career with a streak of 41 consecutive made field goals from inside 35 yards. He was a consensus first-team All-American and set the UCLA record for longest field goal at 60 yards, which was also a record for the longest ever in a conference game.

Brendel was the three-time captain for the Bruins and graduated as the school’s all-time leader in game started (52).

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UCLA sends nine players to 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Nine former UCLA football players will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine later this month, by far the largest total of Jim Mora’s four-year tenure.

Linebacker Myles Jack, a likely first-round draft pick, leads a group that also includes: defensive tackle Kenny Clark; kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn; running back Paul Perkins; receivers Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte; and offensive linemen Jake Brendel, Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond. Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only college teams with more players set to appear at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with 14 and 10, respectively.

Defending national champion Alabama will also send nine players to the Feb. 23-29 event.

UCLA had five participants in each of the last two NFL combines, and six in 2013. Only one Bruin, tight end Cory Harkey, was invited to the 2012 combine.

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UCLA center Jake Brendel accepts invite to East-West Shrine Game

UCLA center Jake Brendel, pictured working out on campus, has accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel, right, has accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game. The senior has made 51 career starts for the Bruins. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel is the latest Bruin to accept an invite to a college all-star game.

The fourth-year starter is slated to play in the East-West Shrine Game, held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 23. Brendel has started a school-record 51 games for UCLA, and was named to the All-Pac-12 second team for the second straight season. He helped stabilize an offensive line that allowed a conference-low 14 sacks.

Brendel was also shortlisted for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given each year to the top scholar-athlete in college football. As one of 12 finalists, he received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.

The last Bruin to appear in the East-West Shrine Game was defensive end Cassius Marsh, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt — an eventual sixth-round pick — had also accepted an invitation that year, but became a late add to the Senior Bowl.

UCLA senior receiver Devin Fuller accepted an invitation last week to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

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Offensive lineman Fred Ulu-Perry to transfer out of UCLA

UCLA will lose offensive linemen Fred Ulu-Perry after just one season.

According to both the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Bruin Report Online, Ulu-Perry has been granted a release by the Bruins and is expected to transfer to Hawaii to be closer to home.

The former St. Louis High standout was one of the top centers in the class of 2016, and likely would have pushed for a starting spot as a sophomore. He saw action at offensive guard, defensive tackle, and fullback in his only season at UCLA.

The Bruins are set to lose senior center Jake Brendel, who has started a school-record 51 games in the last four seasons. The team could turn to Scott Quessenberry to fill the void. The sophomore started 19 games in 2013 and 2014, including one appearance at center, before redshirting this season to recover from shoulder surgeries.

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Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

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