Paul Perkins on verge of becoming UCLA’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher

Paul Perkins runs past cornerback Kenneth Crawley for a 92-yard touchdown in the first quarter of UCLA's 40-37 win at Colorado on Oct. 25. (Getty Images)

Paul Perkins runs past cornerback Kenneth Crawley for a 92-yard touchdown in the first quarter of UCLA’s 40-37 win at Colorado on Oct. 25. (Getty Images)

Paul Perkins might not be the flashiest running back around, but the redshirt sophomore is just four yards away from becoming UCLA’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher.

He’ll likely hit that mark on his very first carry at the Rose Bowl this Saturday. The last two Bruins to reach the milestone were all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin (in both 2012 and 2010) and Chris Markey (2006).

Perkins is currently second in the Pac-12 with 124.5 yards per game, which puts him on pace to rush for 1,618 yards through the regular season plus a bowl game. That would be the second-best single-season mark in school history, behind Franklin’s 1,734.

See the full list of UCLA’s all-time 1,000-yard seasons below: Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Oregon State’s Mike Riley is the conference’s coaching ‘godfather’

» In a conference filled with newcomers, Oregon State coach Mike Riley is heading into his 14th season in the Pac-12. “Mike’s kind of a godfather,” said Stanford’s David Shaw.

» Apparently no longer content with uniform experimentation, Oregon will debut scratch-and-sniff season tickets this year. Unfortunately, the sticker is a Carl’s Jr. ad and likely smells like burgers rather than ducks.

» A former ASU running back was found shot to death on a hiking trial near Sedona. Continue reading

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UCLA’s all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin forced to retire after neck injury

At 24 years old, Johnathan Franklin’s career is already over.

UCLA’s all-time leading rusher will retire from the NFL after just one season, his career ended by a neck injury that sidelined him in Week 12 last year. The 5-foot-11 back was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 — lower than both he and many analysts expected — but was nonetheless overjoyed to head to the Green Bay Packers.

However, Franklin only carried the ball 19 times for a touchdown and 107 yards — 103 of which came in a Sept. 22 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Continue reading

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Fall camp preview: Running backs

After watching Johnathan Franklin smash multiple school records last season, UCLA will need multiple bodies to fill the void at running back. No single set of feet can hope to match what Franklin did as an All-American and Doak Walker runner-up, rushing for 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Bruins’ coaching staff has long said that the team will rely on a committee approach; if Franklin was “The Mayor,” then 2013 will be led by a city council. The test in San Bernardino will be to see if anyone has the potential to eventually emerge as a true No. 1 back.

Key returners: As a backup last season, Jordon James carried the ball 61 times for 215 yards — good for a pedestrian average of 3.5 yards per carry. Contrast that with Franklin’s 6.1 ypc, and his chances of becoming a star seem unlikely. The 5-foot-9, 193-pound junior flashes impressive runs in practice, but still hasn’t found a way to translate that into games. Continue reading

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Johnathan Franklin: ‘It’s a blessing’

Johnathan Franklin joined defensive end Datone Jones in Green Bay as a fourth-round draft pick, and could end up being a better back than second-round Packers’ pick Eddie Lacy. Here’s a quick, post-draft Q&A with Franklin, one that caught him while his voice was still shaky with emotion.

Q: How does it feel to finally get drafted?

Words can’t describe how I feel right now. It’s a blessing. I’ve been in tears for the past 15, 20 minutes. It’s been my dream my whole life. My whole life. It’s what I’ve been waking up thinking about every day. Every day! I’m excited to play. I’m excited to go to the NFL. I love football. I didn’t just wanna get there, I wanna stay there. So I can’t wait to go up there and work and be used.

Q: Are you excited to be reunited with Datone Jones? Continue reading

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Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait ends, joins Datone Jones in Green Bay

Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait finally ended at the 125th overall pick, going to Green Bay as the fourth round’s 28th selection. UCLA’s career-leading rusher was the seventh running back off the board, and joined first-round pick Datone Jones as new Packers. It is the first time an NFL team took two Bruins in the same draft since 2006, when Jacksonville took Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew in the first and second rounds.

Franklin’s slide didn’t attract as much attention as USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who also fell to the fourth round, but — widely rated as a top-three tailback — he will likely to be one of the best values of the draft.

“One of the things I love about Franklin is the way he can pass-protect, which is rare,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “When you pay Aaron Rodgers the money you just paid him, you want to protect him.”

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Where will Bruins go in NFL Draft?

DATONE JONES, DL
Size: 6-4, 283
Expected to go: Late 1st round

You can read more about Jones in today’s story on his draft prospects, but suffice it to say that the talented defensive end will likely become UCLA’s first first-round product since Marcedes Lewis in 2006. He impressed through fantastic post-season performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, and has even drawn comparisons to seven-time Pro Bowler Richard Seymour. A team like Green Bay at No. 26 or Denver at No. 28 could snatch him up.

JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN, RB
Size: 5-11, 195
Expected to go: 2nd round

Franklin reminds me of Shane Vereen, whom the Patriots took as a second-round pick out of Cal. Vereen rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns in his first regular season. After running atop the UCLA record books, “The Mayor” could easily eclipse those numbers if he ends up on a team that doesn’t use as deep a backfield rotation as New England.

“You can use him in the passing game,” said Chris Burke, NFL writer for Sports Illustrated. “You don’t have to plan to pair him with someone else who’s a better blocker or a pass-catcher. …

“You’re not gonna give him the ball and expect him to move the pile five yards. If you can get him outside, let him find the hole and make the one cut, he certainly has enough speed and shiftiness.”

JEFF BACA, OL
Size: 6-3, 302
Expected to go: 5th round Continue reading

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RB Rushel Shell visits UCLA

Former five-star running back Rushel Shell attended UCLA’s practice on Saturday, standing on the sideline wearing a white Bruins football sweater. Shell is exploring options after deciding to transfer out of Pitt, where he was second on the team with 641 yards as a freshman. He ended last season with four touchdowns, as well as a 157-yard game against Virginia Tech.

Shell requested clearance to transfer to UCLA, Cal, Arizona State or Arizona, but Pitt blocked the latter two options. Former Pitt coach Todd Graham coaches at ASU, while a number of former assistants work for the Wildcats.

Cal is reportedly uninterested in Shell, which leaves the Bruins as the most likely option. The 5-foot-11 back looked out of game shape on Saturday, but won’t be eligible to play anyway until 2014 due to transfer rules.

Shell also talked with UCLA’s all-time rushing leader Johnathan Franklin for a few minutes on the sideline.

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UCLA pro day results

UCLA’s pro day on March 12 was closed to both fans and media, but NFL.com has some of the results. Johnathan Franklin caught the ball well, while Datone Jones may be shaping up to as a 4-3 defensive end in the pros. Punter Jeff Locke was also compared favorably to Bryan Anger, whom the Jacksonville Jaguars reached for in the third round last year.

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NFL Combine Roundup

The can’t-miss moment of the NFL Combine was SBNation’s glorious video of linemen running the 40-yard dash to “Chariots of Fire.” UCLA’s Jeff Baca makes an appearance 20 seconds in. Watch it if you haven’t already.

If you’re looking for something more substantive, here are the results from the Bruins’ workouts. Continue reading

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