UCLA in the NFL: Jaguars, Vikings into championship rounds

Former UCLA linebackers Myles Jack and Anthony Barr each had interceptions in their respective teams’ divisional playoff victories on Sunday, helping the Jaguars and Vikings to the AFC and NFC championship games, respectively.

Barr had four tackles and one tackle for loss in Minnesota’s thrilling 29-24 win over the Saints while fellow former Bruin Eric Kendricks led the Vikings with 10 tackles.

Former UCLA kicker Kai Forbath made 3 of 4 field goals for the Vikings, including a 53-yarder that but Minnesota up by two with 1:29 to go. Drew Brees led the Saints on a field-goal drive to regain the lead, but Case Keenum‘s 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired pushed the Vikings into next Sunday’s NFC championship game at Philadelphia (3:40 p.m. PT).

Jack had six tackles in Jacksonville’s 45-42 win over Pittsburgh and picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter after breaking up the pass and securing the catch while tapping his feet in bounds before falling out. The Jaguars face New England in the AFC championship on Jan. 21 at 12:05 p.m PT.

Other former Bruins in action:

  • Jayon Brown had one tackle in Tennessee’s 35-14 loss to the Patriots on Saturday.
  • Takkarist McKinley had two tackles, including one sack, in the Falcons’ 15-10 loss to the Eagles on Saturday.

UCLA links: Randall Goforth tears ACL at Philadelphia Eagles training camp

A second former UCLA player has suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp.

After Atlanta Falcons receiver Devin Fuller tore his ACL in training camp, defensive back Randall Goforth received the same news with the Philadelphia Eagles, suffering the injury last Friday.

Goforth went undrafted after starting 44 games for the Bruins. He opened his first NFL training camp with an interception off starting quarterback Carzon Wentz:

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UCLA football links: Kenny Young on Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Kenny Young #42 of the UCLA Bruins returns his interception as he looks for a block from Adarius Pickett #6 during the first quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Rose Bowl on September 24, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

UCLA middle linebacker Kenny Young was one of 42 players named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list on Friday.

Young, who is coming off a breakout junior year with the Bruins, was sixth in the Pac-12 in tackling last year with 90 total tackles (7.5 per game). He had five sacks, which ranked second on the team, one interception and three fumble recoveries. With the departure of the conference’s leading tackler Jayon Brown, Young will be the centerpiece of UCLA’s linebacking unit this season.

Young would be the third UCLA linebacker to win the Lott Trophy, which recognizes the top defensive player in the country while also celebrating the player’s off-the-field characteristics. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks won the award in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

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Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta

Takkarist McKinley was drafted 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova, Press-Telegram/ Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Takkarist McKinley fulfilled his promise.

The former UCLA defensive end carried a framed photograph of his late grandmother Myrtle Collins with him on stage at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia on Thursday night after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to take him 26th overall.

McKinley, known for the undying motor and electric energy that led him to a team-high 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last year, couldn’t contain his emotions moments after hearing his name called.

“This is who I’m doing it for,” McKinley exclaimed on NFL Network while holding the photo of Collins, who passed away in 2011. “I made a promise to her and I stuck to it. I told her before she passed away that I was going to live my dream. I was going to go D-I, I was going to get out of Richmond, I was going to get out of Oakland, I was going to go to the NFL. Thirty seconds later, she passed away.

“This means (expletive) everything,” he continued on the live broadcast. Realizing his mistake, McKinley added “fine me later.”

With a deep breath, still clutching the photo of Collins, McKinley collected his emotions and finished: “We did it. I love you, Grandma. It’s only the beginning.”

McKinley is UCLA’s fourth first-round draft pick in the past five years.

More on McKinley’s big night

His teammates and coaches at UCLA posted their congratulations on Twitter:

Continue reading “Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta” »

Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate

Several former UCLA players are hoping to hear their names called at the NFL Draft this weekend, including, clockwise from top left: Takkarist McKinley, Fabian Moreau, Jayon Brown, Eddie Vanderdoes and Conor McDermott. (Photos by Thomas R. Cordova/SCNG; Jae C. Hong/AP; Sam Craft/AP; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images; John McCoy/SCNG)

UCLA has another chance at a first-round draft pick and the Bruins are hoping that it will end better this year than last.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley will be in the green room Thursday for the first round of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, which starts at 5 p.m. PT and is televised on ESPN and NFL Network. McKinley will be joined by UCLA head coach Jim Mora and defensive line coach Angus McClure as he awaits his NFL fate.

Mora said seeing the culmination of McKinley’s dream is “going to be awesome,” but he also recognized the unpredictability of the NFL Draft. Only a year ago, the coach was with former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack when Jack slipped all the way to the second round after being projected as a sure-fire first-rounder.

“The draft though, it’s a beast,” Mora said. “You don’t have any idea. It’s a crap shoot, you don’t have any idea where you’re going to get picked. Hopefully it works out for Takk.”

McKinley is not the only hopeful Bruin this weekend. Cornerback Fabian Moreau is expected to be a high second-day pick, likely going in the second round. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, offensive lineman Conor McDermott and linebacker Jayon Brown are likely third-day guys.

The second day of the draft (the second and third rounds) starts at 4 p.m. PT on Friday and the event wraps up Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds, starting at 9 a.m. PT.

Here are links to prepare for the NFL Draft: Continue reading “Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate” »