UCLA notes: Jim Mora warns against stereotyping Brett Hundley as ‘runner’

» Brett Hundley led UCLA with 748 rushing yards last season, but head coach Jim Mora emphasized at Pac-12 Media Days that his quarterback is — first and foremost — a passer.

“I say that about Brett because people have a tendency at times to see an African-American quarterback and say he’s a runner,” Mora said. “And I hate that stereotype. I always have. I coached Mike Vick. I believe we stereotype those guys started with that, and I don’t want that to happen with Brett.

“I’m going to make sure it doesn’t. It shouldn’t. The guy’s a passer, man, but he can run.”

» Mora smiled when asked about the weather in San Bernardino, where UCLA will start training camp on Aug. 4: “I hope it’s hot. I would just like us to be in triple digits. As long as we’re in triple digits, I’ll be happy.”

Unlike last summer, UCLA will not go down to San Diego for a three-day pre-camp session with Navy SEALs. Mora said the experience helped his team later in the season — particularly when it needed to bond together through the death of receiver Nick Pasquale — but didn’t want to dull the impact by repeating it too often.

» What does two-way superstar Myles Jack have in store for his sophomore season? Not even his teammates are sure.

“I’m excited,” said linebacker Eric Kendricks. “I don’t even know what to expect. He put on 15 (pounds) of muscle. He’s gotten so much stronger. He’s been working hard. That’s all you can ask of a guy. He doesn’t let any of this hype, this circle of fame get to his head.” Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Philip “Scooby” Wright III

Would be better if Scooby’s real first name weren’t Phillip, but otherwise still a solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

UCLA post-spring position outlook: Defensive line

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. Over the next week, this blog will cover each of the Bruins’ position groups. Next up …

Defensive line

The star power is there. Just look at Owamagbe Odighizuwa, the former five-star recruit who doesn’t look like he’s missed a step after hip surgeries. Or Eddie Vanderdoes, another five-star defensive end who more than lived up to the billing as a Freshman All-American. Or Kenny Clark, the mammoth nose tackle whom defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich already called one of the team’s best players.

The unit’s only significant loss was defensive end Cassius Marsh, who finished second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and even chipped in a two-yard touchdown catch. Tackle Seali’i Epenesa and sack specialist Keenan Graham also graduated, but both saw their roles dwindle to varying degrees toward the end of the season. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Spring notes: Owamagbe Odighizuwa looks dominant in UCLA spring game


– After a season spent rehabbing from multiple hip surgeries, Owamagbe Odighizuwa looks like the dominant force everyone expected him to be as a five-star recruit.

The rising senior was unofficially credited with two sacks in UCLA’s spring game, but appeared to have at least five by the press box consensus– as well as several near-misses. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound end moved to the right side of the defensive line as an edge rusher — a spot usually filled by linebacker Kenny Orjioke, who was absent — and had little trouble blowing past left tackle Caleb Benenoch.

He also dropped back into pass coverage one a few plays, something that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said he’s experimenting with. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

VIDEO: Defensive end Owa Odighizuwa looks forward to UCLA spring game


Head coach Jim Mora is hoping to make UCLA’s “Spring Showcase” this Saturday an actual football game, and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa might be itching for a real snap more than anyone other Bruin.

The former five-star recruit missed all of last season following two hip surgeries. He’s shaken most of the rust off through three-plus weeks of spring practices, but a truly competitive setting would help too.

“It would help me a lot,” he said. “It would help me from the standpoint of getting my routine that I’ve always done, and getting into the flow of things with my team. I’m excited for it.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Owamagbe Odighizuwa working ‘cobwebs’ out in first post-surgery action

This past Saturday, Owamagbe Odighizuwa sat in the Rose Bowl stands, high above his teammates. Sidelined after undergoing two offseason hip surgeries, the defensive end watched UCLA pummel Nevada, 58-20 — the first time since 2009 that he watched the Bruins in person from somewhere other than the field.

“It was awkward to be honest,” he said. “For three years, I’ve been playing. To be sitting in the stands, I felt almost like a recruit.”

This time, however, he knew the schemes and playcalls. Through his 38 games at UCLA, he was always locked into his own assignment. Sitting with his brother and his friends, he could look down and see how each piece fit within the defense, watch each play as it unfolded: “It was a little bit weird.”

He’s still itching to go back. After making 44 tackles as a junior, Odighizuwa needed surgery to repair fraying in his right hip. Just before spring practices started, he felt pain in his left hip and went through a second surgery — one that is forcing him to redshirt the 2013 season. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

How much NFL talent does UCLA have?

NFL teams drafted four Bruins in April, the highest number for UCLA since 2005. Could the school best that mark next spring?

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked the 25 college programs with the most talent for the 2014 draft. The Bruins made the cut, along with four other Pac-12 teams:

No. 22: UCLA — 7 prospects (among draft-eligible players)
No. 21: Washington — 7 Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Early return for Owa Odighizuwa ‘conceivable’

Originally expected to miss all of fall after undergoing hip surgery, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa could return in time for UCLA’s season opener.

The rising senior had missed spring practice after offseason surgery to repair damage in his left hip. Last Tuesday, he had surgery to repair what was feared to be a tear in his right hip, but the operation revealed only fraying. Head coach Jim Mora said Odighizuwa could return in as soon as two or three months.

“I think it’s conceivable that he could be ready for the start of the year,” Mora said. “I think what’s important is that we make sure he’s 100 percent before we ask him to go back out there. We’ve got to move slowly and efficiently.” Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Owamagbe Odighizuwa out for 2013 season

The defensive line, one of UCLA football’s most battered units this spring, just suffered its biggest loss. Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa will likely miss the 2013 season after undergoing his second offseason hip surgery.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the news Tuesday that Odighizuwa had the operation for a frayed rotator cuff in his right hip. Once the five-star gem of the Bruins’ 2010 recruiting class, he had sat out all of spring practice while recovering from surgery on his left hip.

Coach Jim Mora said last Monday that Odighizuwa was healing well, but needed to get his right hip checked. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound end was a likely successor for Datone Jones, who recently became UCLA’s first first-round draft pick since 2006. Odighizuwa finished with 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last season, and will have one year of eligibility left after if he redshirts this fall. He totaled 32 tackles through his freshman and sophomore years. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email