Brett Hundley among five UCLA Bruins invited to NFL Combine

Brett Hundley, right, runs around defensive end Jonathan Johnson (11) during UCLA's 36-34 win at Cal on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Brett Hundley, right, runs around defensive end Jonathan Johnson (11) during UCLA’s 36-34 win at Cal on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (Eric Risberg/AP)

The NFL Scouting Combine released its list of invites today, and there weren’t any real surprises on UCLA’s end.

Brett Hundley, who set multiple school records in three seasons as a starter, was included — the mild kerfuffle over his Senior Bowl absence having not knocked him off his status as the consensus No. 3 quarterback in the draft. So too were defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and linebacker Eric Kendricks, who represent the Bruins’ other chances to produce a first-round draft pick for the third year in a row.

A recent SI.com mock draft projected Kendricks to go No. 30 overall to the Green Bay Packers, while Odighizuwa followed at No. 37 (New York Jets) and Hundley at No. 41 (St. Louis Rams). Continue reading

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NFL draft roundup: Will UCLA produce another first-round pick?

Brett Hundley (17) runs for a touchdown in a 38-20 win over USC, as former Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, right, celebrates at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Brett Hundley (17) runs for a touchdown in a 38-20 win over USC, as former Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, right, celebrates at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 22, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

One of the lows in recent UCLA football history was the 2012 NFL draft. That was the year that not a single Bruin was picked, becoming a sort of epilogue on the recently expired coaching tenure of Rick Neuheisel. The same drought occurred in the 2009 draft, which followed Neuheisel’s debut season, and in the 1997 draft. Otherwise, the program had produced at least one selection every single year since the draft contracted to seven rounds in 1994.

But in the last two years, UCLA broke out of that 2012 slump in a big way, producing four picks in 2013 and five in 2014. That included a pair of first-round picks in defensive end Datone Jones and linebacker Anthony Barr.

Those nine picks signaled the team’s highest two-year draft total ever in the seven-round era — giving head coach Jim Mora and his staff a nice selling point on the recruiting trail. No longer can the school be depicted as a place that failed to maximize its talent.

This time around, UCLA’s three best prospects are quarterback Brett Hundley, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and linebacker Eric Kendricks. None of them are locks for the first round, but all three have at least a chance to be among the first 32 taken. If that happens, it will mark the first time UCLA has produced at least one first-rounder in three straight years since 1994-96 — when Jamir Miller, J.J. Stokes and Jonathan Ogden all became top-10 draft picks.

Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Unsurprisingly, Odighizuwa impressed everyone in Mobile, Ala., during the weigh-in — looking as shredded as usual at 266 pounds and half an inch over 6-foot-3. He also measured out with 11 1/8-inch hands, the largest of any defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl, and a wingspan of nearly 82 inches.

He didn’t disappoint once practices and started either, drawing attention for his first step and fluid hips. Three years ago, Jones was the UCLA defensive end who started generating momentum with a big Senior Bowl showing, eventually becoming the first Bruin selected in the first round since 2006. If Odighizuwa follows up with a strong NFL combine, he could echo that rise. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley among NFL draft early entries leaving with degree

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

In addition to his many spots in the UCLA record books, quarterback Brett Hundley has joined another small club.

The NFL draft early entry deadline passed last Thursday, and 84 players were declared eligible for selection. Of those, 10 — including Hundley, who majored in sociology — notified the league that they had already graduated.

The others are: Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes, Auburn receiver Sammie Coates, Akron receiver Zach D’Orazio, Louisville defensive back Charles Gaines, Colorado State running back Dee Hart, Kansas receiver Nigel King, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith, and Appalachian State receiver Tacoi Sumler.

The NFL granted the remaining 74 players special eligibility because they had been out of high school for at least three years. The Pac-12 accounted for 16 of those athletes, a tally that dipped from the 98 that left school early in 2014.

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NFL roundup: Anthony Barr signs for guaranteed $12.7 million over four years

» After being picked ninth overall in the NFL draft, linebacker Anthony Barr officially signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday, inking a fully guaranteed contract worth $12,743,596 over four years. He will get a signing bonus of $7,588,072, and the team can exercise a fifth-year option.

He and other former UCLA players must return to campus through spring quarter, however, since NFL rules dictate that anyone who hasn’t graduated cannot stay their teams until their school sessions end.

» Houston Texans sideline reporter John Harris said Xavier Su’a-Filo will become the starting left guard by Week 1, and be a “key figure” in the run game for at least the next five to seven years. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley to return for redshirt junior season

UCLA has announced a 9 a.m. Monday press conference for Brett Hundley’s “major announcement.”

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UCLA’s potential run at a Rose Bowl or national title is still alive.

Quarterback Brett Hundley will return to UCLA for his redshirt junior season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, turning down what could have been a first-round selection in the NFL draft. The star quarterback had said after the Bruins’ 42-12 Sun Bowl win over Virginia Tech last week that he had “no idea” what his decision will be.

Hundley rushed for a career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns against the Hokies while throwing for 226 yards and two more scores — breaking Cade McNown’s UCLA bowl game record for total offensive yards. The redshirt sophomore has struggled with decision-making throughout the season, but his talent and upside make him a tantalizing pro prospect.

When he declares, Hundley will be the first Bruin quarterback drafted since McNown went 12th overall to the Chicago Bears in 1999. McNown took UCLA to its last Rose Bowl berth four months earlier.

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