Jim Mora: Jeff Ulbrich still ‘contemplating’ Falcons’ job offer

The Atlanta Falcons have offered UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich a position as the linebackers coach, interrupting what was looking like a very successful National Signing Day.

However, the 37-year-old has yet to decide whether to accept the job opening.

“Jeff has assured me he has not come to a conclusion yet,” said UCLA head coach Jim Mora. “He is contemplating whether or not he wants to do that. I’m going to fight tooth and nail to keep him here because I think he’s an outstanding coach. …

“I’m going to fight like crazy to keep that sucker, and it’s going to be a battle, because Dan Quinn, he’s a fighter.”

Mora said that newly hired Falcons head coach Dan Quinn first reached out to him as a courtesy on Tuesday night, asking if he could contact Ulbrich. Mora said no — smiling, as he recalled the moment — but in the NFL, permission isn’t needed. Mora and Quinn’s relationship stretches back to their time on the San Francisco 49ers staff. The former became the defensive coordinator in 1999, and hired the latter as a defensive quality control coach two years later. Quinn was soon promoted to defensive line coach.

That same connection also ties the men to Ulbrich, who spent his entire 10-year NFL career in San Francisco before retiring from playing in 2009. Continue reading

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No. 1 tight end Chris Clark commits to UCLA

No. 1 tight end Chris Clark has committed to UCLA, giving the Bruins a big start to National Signing Day.

The 6-foot-5, 253-pound Connecticut native picked Los Angeles over Michigan, which had made a hard push for him after hiring former 49ers and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I have an unbelievable relationship with UCLA’s coaches,” Clark said on ESPNU. “Coach Mora has basically become a second dad for me these last few weeks.”

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Donation pushes UCLA’s football facility fundraising to $53 million

An eight-figure donation has pushed UCLA’s football facility fundraising $3 million past its original goal — but $12 million behind its new target.

The athletic department announced on Monday that Jim and Carol Collins had donated $10 million toward the new football facility, bumping the fundraising total to more than $53 million in cash and pledges.

The Wasserman Football Center, scheduled to break ground in fall 2015, was budgeted at $50 million when the project was announced in September 2013. After receiving its latest donation, UCLA athletic department stated that it has set a new goal of $65 million in private funding — a “phase two” that it said “will allow for first-rate finishes, furniture, branding and technology.” Continue reading

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UCLA earns first top-10 finish in Associated Press poll since 1998

For the first time in 16 years, UCLA has finished the season as a top-10 team.

The Bruins earned a No. 10 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, released a few hours after Monday night’s conclusion to the first-ever College Football Playoff. It marks UCLA’s highest year-end placement since its No. 8 ranking following the 1998 season.

That campaign ended in a Rose Bowl loss, and since then, the Bruins have been left out of all but three final AP polls. They finished No. 16 after both the 2005 and 2013 seasons.

You can see the complete final 2014 rankings below: Continue reading

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Linebacker Zach Whitley leaves UCLA after month of uncertainty

Linebacker Zach Whitley has left UCLA for good.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Houston-area native withdrew from school on Monday, ending a short stint for a prospect that had once looked like one of the gems of the Bruins’ 2014 recruiting class. He played in nine games as a true freshman and recorded one tackle.

A month ago, Whitley had reportedly been dismissed from the team — but head coach Jim Mora soon insisted that nothing had ever changed in the player’s status. Continue reading

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