The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Houston-area native withdrew from school on Monday, ending a short stint for a prospect that had once looked like one of the gems of the Bruins’ 2014 recruiting class. He played in nine games as a true freshman and recorded one tackle.
A month ago, Whitley had reportedly been dismissed from the team — but head coach Jim Mora soon insisted that nothing had ever changed in the player’s status. Continue reading →
UCLA linebacker Zach Whitley has not practiced with the team for the last week, but head coach Jim Mora said the true freshman is still on the team.
Mora did not disclose the reason for Whitley’s absence. Earlier this month, the coach refuted reports that he had dismissed the former four-star prospect, rated a top-100 recruit nationally this past spring.
Whitley enrolled at UCLA in January after decommitting from Alabama and performed well in camp, but suffered a concussion in August that may have stunted his development. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound defender played in nine games this season and made one tackle.
This post originally stated that UCLA had dismissed linebacker Zach Whitley due to a team issue.
Safety/linebacker Tyler Foreman has been granted his release from UCLA and will transfer out, as first reported by Bruin Report Online.
Foreman arrived at UCLA as a four-star safety prospect in 2013, and moved to linebacker after a redshirt year. He only played in two games, and had one tackle.
However, linebacker Zach Whitley is still on the roster, a UCLA spokesperson said Friday afternoon. Originally an Alabama commitment, Whitley lived up to his four-star billing immediately in spring camp, looking like a player who would earn a spot in the defensive two-deep. Although the staff unsuccessfully tried him at outside linebacker, Whitley showed natural instincts playing behind the ball.
However, that promise never translated during his debut season. After suffering a concussion and missing part of preseason training camp in San Bernardino, Whitley only played in nine games and recorded a single tackle.
» After a brief visit to the hospital on Tuesday night, UCLA receiver Devin Lucien passed his concussion tests on Friday and could return to practice on Monday — albeit in a red non-contact jersey. The redshirt junior had looked like arguably the team’s best receiver through camp before his hitting his head trying to make a catch, matching up with top cornerback Fabian Moreau on most plays.
Linebacker Zach Whitley, who has missed most of training camp in San Bernardino with head injury, returned to practice today for some sideline work. Head coach Jim Mora said the true freshman could potentially be back tonight’s practice, or at least by Monday.
Offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry is out with a “minor” concussion.
Receiver Mossi Johnson took off his red non-contact jersey this morning, while safety Randall Goforth put one on. Both are dealing with minor shoulder injuries.
“As far as comparing injuries to the last two camps, we’re in much better shape than we ever were, so that’s really encouraging,” Mora said.
» The Bruins worked heavily on special teams on Friday, adding a pre-stretch session that lasted about half an hour. Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu took noticeable command of the unit. Since being hired last December, he has been a vocal presence in practices; at one point this morning, he had the entire team dead silent while he barked instructions. Continue reading →
» UCLA lost a number of players to injury on Monday night, but none more important than center Jake Brendel. The third-year starter hurt his left knee/leg late in the two-hour practice, and was examined on a table before being carted to the locker room.
Brendel wasn’t limping heavily when he was helped off the field, and the preliminary examination indicated that the injury wasn’t serious.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t need anything more than a day or two, but we’ll see,” said head coach Jim Mora.
Backup center/guard Scott Quessenberry also left practice with what may have been heat exhaustion or dehydration. Safety Randall Goforth aggravated a left shoulder injury, but that also isn’t expected to be serious. Cornerback Marcus Rios was sidelined with a headache, but wasn’t hit in the head.
Freshman linebacker Zach Whitley — who performed well in spring camp — has a concussion and wore a neck brace last week; his return date is uncertain.
» Mora wasn’t happy with how the Bruins began the second part of their two-a-day, and made them restart the Monday night practice roughly 15 minutes in. Later, he sent running back Craig Lee to the locker room. Continue reading →
» UCLA doesn’t have a lot of question marks, but one position group that’s still unsettled are the linebackers.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called competition at outside linebacker (opposite Myles Jack) and inside linebacker (opposite Eric Kendricks) “wide open” — naming five candidates for the former and three for the latter.
Outside linebackers have shuffled up and down the depth chart this week, but on Friday, redshirt junior Aaron Wallace and sophomore Deon Hollins got more play than 19-year-old junior Kenny Orjioke. Wallace has gotten love from both Ulbrich and head coach Jim Mora this week, but he doesn’t look like he has the speed to be a great pass rusher. That’s an area that Hollins excels at, and he’s looked better than he did in spring.
The competition inside is crowded, but true freshman Kenny Young has been fun to watch. He’s not the same type of do-it-all stud that Myles Jack is, though his work ethic has sparked comparisons.
» After leaving Thursday’s practice following a hit to the head, linebacker Zach Whitley wore a neck brace on Friday. Not an encouraging sign, but it could have been precautionary. Continue reading →
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. This blog will cover the status of each position group moving forward. Next up …
Myles Jack is already UCLA’s all-everything superstar, and did nothing this spring to suggest that his sophomore effort will far short of the already sky-high expectations. He continued to excel in coverage, and will play behind the ball when the team deploys a nickel formation. After finishing with just one sack last season, he’s also spent extra time focusing on his pass rushing moves.
He won’t practice at running back until the season starts, but that only gives him more time to cement his role as the Bruins’ defensive leader.
The question marks facing the team in its post-Anthony Barr era lie elsewhere. Continue reading →
– Thursday’s practice featured a fight that started, as usual, when a few receivers and defensive backs got in each other’s faces. The main culprits: Jalen Ortiz and Tyler Scott on offense, and Ishmael Adams and Tahaan Goodman on defense.
Head coach Jim Mora stopped practice to admonish the team as a whole. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich talked a bit about managing player emotions, but actually sort of enjoyed jumping in and pulling players apart.
“It brings me back to my playing days,” he said. “I kind of like it. Maybe too much. The potential of someone hitting me … it was awesome.”
– Ulbrich also said that the experiment of putting Zach Whitley at outside linebacker is over. The four-star early enrollee looks far more comfortable inside, where he has returned since missing Monday’s practice due to a bruise.
“It was a thing where, we thought he could maybe compete outside and that might be the best situation for our defense,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true anymore.” Continue reading →
– Inside linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea left UCLA’s practice early on Wednesday morning with his left arm in a sling. The severity of his injury is not yet clear, but he did not return to the field.
The Bruins are without both their inside starters from last season, with Jordan Zumwalt training for the NFL draft and Eric Kendricks still recovering from ankle surgery. Savaiinaea started one game last season, and was a candidate to play next to Kendricks this fall. Sophomore Jayon Brown and senior Ryan Hofmeister are also in the rotation.
Still, the team is thinner at outside linebacker, where a stable starter has yet to be found opposite Myles Jack (who actually worked with the inside linebackers during individual drills). Junior Kenny Orjioke is still the favorite to secure that spot, but rising sophomore Deon Hollins and true freshman Zach Whitley are vying for the job too. Continue reading →
One of the top recruits in UCLA’s class was four-star linebacker Zach Whitley, a Houston-area native who originally committed to Alabama. He flipped to the Bruins early last month and enrolled early, getting a head start on preparing for his freshman season.
He took questions from the media on Wednesday …
On deciding to flip from Alabama to UCLA last month:
“It was a lot going into that decision. Me and my dad had a long discussion about what’s best for me as a player and as a student. I just felt more comfortable coming here instead of Alabama.
“It really surprised my school, my teammates. A lot of my teammates, I told them in the past I was considering UCLA. A certain amount of them knew, but not a lot. It was a surprise. A lot of them were upset, and you had a lot that were very happy for me for making my decision. Continue reading →