Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt itching to play Stanford

Back in 2010, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt decommitted from Stanford just before Signing Day, switching to UCLA and staying closer to home. The Huntington Beach native has yet to beat the Cardinal, losing four games by an average of 20.5 points.

Saturday’s 12:30 kickoff may be his last shot to Stanford — though the game no longer comes with a chance to spoil the Cardinal’s undefeated record.

“I’m actually bummed Utah beat them,” Zumwalt said. “I wanted that to be us.”

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VIDEO: Jordan Zumwalt talks about facing Cody Fajardo

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Despite an eventual blowout victory, UCLA struggled to contain Nevada’s Cody Fajardo early on. The Wolf Packs’ dual-threat star had 77 of his team-high 106 rushing yards in the first half, finishing with two touchdowns on the ground.

In the second quarter, though, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt got the best of his former high school rival. Fajardo got loose along the right sideline, diving toward the end zone after running over 14 yards. Zumwalt met him in the air, knocking Fajardo out of bounds just early enough to keep his right arm from reaching inside the pylon.

The touchdown was called back after video review. Fajardo punched it in right after, cutting UCLA’s lead to 17-13, but it wasn’t against Zumwalt.

“So happy I made that play,” Zumwalt said. “That was like my redemption play. … If he had gone over me and got that touchdown, I would’ve been so sad. I know they scored the next play, but I was just happy I won that one.”

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Jordan Zumwalt has history with Nevada QB Cody Fajardo

Saturday will mark the first time the UCLA and Nevada football teams have ever met.

Their players aren’t as unfamiliar with each other.

Four years ago, Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo led Anaheim’s Servite High to the CIF-SS Pac-5 finals. On the other side was UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, then a star for Edison High — located 15 miles south in Huntington Beach. Continue reading

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Fall camp preview: Linebackers

When it comes to UCLA linebackers, might as well start here:

Anthony Barr announced himself to many national viewers with that hit, even if it was helped by abysmal blocking. It was a microcosm of the UCLA-USC rivalry tilting toward Westwood: Matt Barkley’s college career ended, and Barr made him highlight-reel fodder for a potential Heisman campaign. He’ll likely be a top-ten pick come May, after he’s flooded with various all-conference and All-American honors.

Already a dynamic player, Barr has worked to improve his pass coverage skills and bulked up to an impressive 255 pounds. While he’s easily the team’s best player, his position teammates aren’t shabby either. Continue reading

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UCLA leads Butkus Award watch list

UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt all made the 51-man watch list for the Butkus Award. The Bruins tied BYU with three players on the list, the most of any team.

Barr and offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo were also mentioned for the Lombardi Award watch list, though that ballooned to over 100 names. The award is given to a down lineman on either side of the ball, or linebacker who lines up within five yards of the ball.

No UCLA player has ever won either award. The Pac-12′s last Lombardi winner was Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs (2002), and its last Butkus winner was USC’s Chris Claiborne (1998).

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UCLA football post-spring: Defense and special teams

Defensive line

Can UCLA’s defensive front survive the loss of a first-round pick — the team’s first since 2006? Cassius Marsh, pegged as a third-round talent in some early projections, now succeeds new Green Bay Packer Datone Jones as the Bruins’ best defensive end. By most observations, he’s matured since 2011, a year that saw him storm out of spring practice and later suspended two games for an October brawl at Arizona.

“Sometimes, he may stop on that line, but not over it,” said defensive line coach Angus McClure. “I call it a ‘controlled insanity.’ You want to go to that line but you don’t want to go over it. Certainly, he’s learned to manage it.”

The rest of the line, however, is a muddled with injuries. Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Ellis McCarthy both sat out spring while rehabbing from their respective hip and knee surgeries, while nose tackle Brandon Tualiaupupu tore his ACL in mid-April. Continue reading

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