Reviewing UCLA’s 2014 recruiting class

The requisite caveat first: recruiting rankings are imperfect, and neither guarantee a program’s success nor ensure its failure. That said, recruiting rankings are still correlated with success, and since we can’t fast forward to see how the players develop, there isn’t a whole lot else to work with.

And without further ado, let’s take another look at the 2014 UCLA class (which you can look over in full here).

– It’s good, not great. I covered the five-star swing-and-misses generally in today’s Daily News story, but here’s the class in more detail. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jim Mora recaps UCLA’s 2014 recruiting class

National Signing Day saw UCLA whiff on big-name, five-star recruits — especially out-of-state prospects such as linebacker Rashaan Evans (Alabama) and receiver Malachi Dupre (LSU). Bruins head coach Jim Mora acknowledged as much Wednesday evening.

“We were the bridesmaids,” he said. “Heck, we might”ve even been the ring girl on a couple of guys today. But we were in the wedding. We were in the church. That’s our goal.”

He emphasized, however, that the he wouldn’t shy away from going after “big fish” in the future: “We’re never going to go, ‘Hey, you know what, this is an SEC guy. We don’t have a shot.’ If there’s a crack in the door, we’re going to try to bust it down.”

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Reports: Texas interested in UCLA head coach Jim Mora

As expected:

Jim Mora (and UCLA fans) might as well get used to this. As long as the Bruins keep winning, their head coach’s name will come up every time a major job is open.

The latest suitor is Texas, which pushed Mack Brown into retirement. ESPN reports that the school is looking at Mora as a potential replacement, though sources dispute whether or not there has been contact. reports that Mora — who just guided UCLA to its first 10-win season since 2005 — will interview with the Longhorns after Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. Continue reading

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UCLA hits 10-win mark with Sun Bowl romp over Hokies

In Wednesday’s edition of the Daily News:
– My story on UCLA’s 42-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl, and where the Bruins sit heading into 2014. (Mainly, awaiting Brett Hundley’s NFL draft decision.)
– Jill Painter’s column on why quarterback Hundley should go pro after his standout showing in El Paso.
– A notebook on linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, who closed his UCLA career with co-MVP honors in the Sun Bowl.

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Jim Mora ‘hopeful’ Brett Hundley will stay at UCLA

After UCLA’s win over USC on Nov. 30, head coach Jim Mora seized the moment. During a live postgame interview, he attempted to rope star quarterback Brett Hundley into committing to another year in college.

It didn’t work — Hundley demurred on his NFL draft decision — but a month later, Mora remained optimistic heading into a Sun Bowl matchup against Virginia Tech.

Asked today if he’s thought about the redshirt sophomore potentially playing his final game as a Bruin, the coach said: “I don’t think it will be. I’m very hopeful it won’t be.”

Earlier this week, Hundley said he had not yet received feedback from the NFL draft advisory board, and remains uncertain about his future. Continue reading

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Coordinator Noel Mazzone grades UCLA’s offensive line

Today’s notebook focuses again on UCLA’s trio of freshman linemen, whom offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone gave a B-/C+ grade.

– As he’s done all weeek, UCLA head coach Jim Mora continued lauding the virtues of El Paso and the Sun Bowl.

“What I’ve really enjoyed about the Sun Bowl is the events,” he said. “I’ll tell you why: a lot of bowl games — not that I’ve been to a lot — is you go to events and you kind of separate. They’ve done a great job at the Sun Bowl of creating events where you come together. Our team has gotten to spend a whole lot of time together.” Continue reading

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UCLA running backs all healthy for the first time

At long last, UCLA will have a full stable of backs. Head coach Jim Mora said starter Jordon James, Paul Perkins, Damien Thigpen, Malcolm Jones and Steve Manfro should be 100 percent healthy heading into the Sun Bowl next Tuesday.

“They all looked really sharp out here today,” Mora said. “It’s probably been since training camp that we can say that. … It’s probably the first game that they’ve all been ready to go. So we’ll have to find a way to get them all reps.” Continue reading

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Jim Mora dismisses rumors connecting him to Texas

Despite having agreed to an extension through 2019, Jim Mora has come up again in the college football coaching carousel.

With Mack Brown retiring after Texas plays in the Holiday Bowl, one of the premier jobs in the sport is now open. Bovada gives UCLA’s second-year coach 10-to-1 odds on filling the void in Austin.

Mora did his best to dispel the rumors on Tuesday.

“It’s flattering, and I think it says a lot about our program and the direction we’re heading,” he said. “But I am very, very, very, extremely, delightfully happy to be the head coach at UCLA and want to be for a long, long time.”

After Tuesday’s practice — the first consisting of actual prep for Virginia Tech — Mora also talked about what he’s seen from the Hokies, as well as his young defensive linemen.

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