UCLA notes: Three true freshmen not participating in training camp

» A trio of true freshmen were left off UCLA’s training camp roster. Quarterback Aaron Sharp, linebacker Dwight Williams and receiver Jordan Lasley did not practice on Monday, and will not return to the team until Aug. 31, after UCLA’s season opener at Virginia.

“Those three guys did not live up to the standards that we’re looking for through the summer months,” head coach Mora said.

None of the three were expected to contribute immediately.

» Receiver Darren Andrews is officially out for the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee. He will redshirt the upcoming season after initially tearing knee ligaments late last November, ending a season in which he caught four passes for 52 yards.

Cornerback Johnny Johnson is also out for the season after injuring his shoulder for the second year in a row. He had already redshirted the 2013 campaign.

» Promising inside receiver Mossi Johnson injured his left shoulder on Monday, and left the field with a UCLA staffer helping him hold his arm still. Mora said he hoped it was just a mild AC sprain.

Johnson played well in spring camp, and was likely the first receiver off the bench for either Devin Fuller or Thomas Duarte.

» Priest Willis — whom Mora once lauded as a “picture-perfect, beautiful corner” — struggled as a freshman transitioning over from safety. Continue reading

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Defensive end Kylie Fitts transfers out of UCLA

Defensive end Kylie Fitts has decided to transfer out of UCLA, head coach Jim Mora announced Monday.

“It’s his decision,” Mora said. “We wish him the best in wherever he goes and does after this. We’re just going to march on.”

Fitts wasn’t set to start after notching just one tackle in six games as a true freshman, but he most likely would have factored into the team’s two-deep depth chart.

Originally a verbal commitment to USC, he flipped to UCLA in dramatic fashion when the Trojans wouldn’t allow him to enroll early. Continue reading

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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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Jim Mora: Leaving UCLA would have left Bruins with ‘empty lessons’

Over his first two seasons at UCLA, Jim Mora has fielded overtures everywhere from Washington to Texas to the San Diego Chargers. Each time, he said no, eventually signing an extension through 2019.

During his Pac-12 media scrum on Thursday, he again reiterated his commitment to the Bruins. Acknowledging that he was not the “the most popular hire in the history of college sports,” he said he wanted to reciprocate the trust athletic director Dan Guerrero gave him back in December 2011.

Mora also remarked on — and disapproved of — the way that some college coaches have changed jobs.

“Most importantly, I’m committed to our players,” he said. “We go recruit these kids, go into their homes and talk to their parents and we ask them to commit to us. We see coaches run out on them, and I don’t think that’s right. We sit in our meeting rooms and talk to our kids about being selfless and sacrifice and putting a team first. Then you see coaches when the first opportunity comes up to take off and better their situation, they run and do it and leave these kids behind with these, to me, empty lessons.

“And that’s not who I want to be. I’m saying there until they kick me out. That might be tomorrow, who knows. I’ve been kicked out before. But I’m staying until they kick me out.”

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Jim Mora lists Washington home for $3.15 million

Some six months after turning down a chance to become Washington’s head coach, Jim Mora severed another tie with his home state.

Heading into his third season at UCLA, Mora has listed his Washington for $3.149 million according to the LA Times. The two-story, six-bedroom house in Yarrow Point is listed on Realtor.com as having been built in 1918 and renovated in 2008, and comes complete with a theater room, gaming center, seven built-in flatscreen TVs, a wet bar, and an artist studio. The master suite also opens up to a deck with lake views.

Still, it’s hardly the highest-priced property in the neighborhood. According to Realtor.com, three homes in the area have recently sold for between $4.35 million to $6.4 million. Several others are listed for more than $3.9 million, including a pair of three-bedroom houses.

Mora could probably buy up one of those too if he wanted. Currently living in Manhattan Beach, he is slated to earn $3.25 million in base salary this year, as well as up to $930,000 in performance bonuses.

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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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Jim Mora Count on Me Family Foundation hosts eighth annual Celebrity Golf Classic

The eighth annual Jim Mora Celebrity Golf Classic takes place on Monday at the Riviera Country Club. The event is the main fundraiser for the Count on Me Family Foundation run by Mora and his wife, Shannon, which benefits children who are in need and at risk.

This year’s golf event will include actors Joel McHale and Kevin Nealon, as well as several former NFL players such as Jonathan Ogden and Rod Woodson.

The 11 charities that received partnership grants in the most recent cycle include Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the Special Olympics of Southern California, Washington and Georgia.

The foundation takes donations via PayPal, and also has an Amazon Associates program that donates up to 8.5% of your Amazon.com purchases.

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Pac-12 teleconference notes: Jim Mora talks about UCLA linebackers

Linebackers past and present dominated Jim Mora’s portion of the Pac-12 teleconference earlier today.

First, the UCLA head coach fielded the usual question about sophomore Myles Jack’s potential role on offense, something that will likely be asked again and again between now and August.

“I think it’s way to early to answer that,” Mora said. “I don’t plan on minimizing that. He’s a really good football player and we want to get the ball to him as many ways as we can but we don’t want to ever take away what he means to our defense because he’s a truly special linebacker.”

Later, one about Jordan Zumwalt — whom Mora could playing either inside or outside in a 3-4 scheme, or either ‘Sam’ or ‘Will’ in a 4-3 scheme. The former UCLA wrecking ball is training for the NFL draft, and could conceivably go in the third round or down to the sixth.

“That can cause a lot of anxiety for a guy like Jordan,” Mora said. “I have no feel where he’s going to go.” Continue reading

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