So it all starts today. As mentioned over the weekend the season gets started today with a "Media Day" in the morning and then first practice (which is open to public) at 3:30 pm PST. I am sure we are going to be reading stories from the Media Day and first practice starting tomorrow starting later this evening and with our usual roundup in the AM. Already there are few notes up on the official site that should get all of us ready for the camp.
Following the tweeter feed yesterday it was pretty clear the players were coming back to Westwood yesterday. Everyone of them sound excited and fired up (Case in point here is Taylor Embree). Here are the details from the official site:
On Sunday afternoon, the veteran UCLA football players reported to camp. The first team meeting is scheduled for tonight. On Saturday afternoon, the newcomers reported to camp and went through a series of orientation meetings on Sunday.
Monday's schedule includes position meetings in the morning and a short walkthrough. The players will participate in Media Day at noon and at the same time shoot portrait photos for television broadcasts and other material for the Rose Bowl video board.
The first practice is scheduled for 3:00 pm. For the first few days, head coach Rick Neuheisel and the coaches will split the team into two groups so the players can receive more one-on-one coaching from the staff. The first group will begin practice at 3:00 pm. The entire team will work on special teams for 20 minutes at 4:20 pm and then the second group will practice from 4:40 - 6:00 pm.
I hope some of you get to make it out there either today or sometime in the coming weeks. Just reading through the position overviews it becomes clear how intense the competition is going to be this year. We just need to have the players stay healthy. More details after the jump.
Note "several" of the walkons are not reporting for camp until after the first game or the start of school. Also, it looks like Jayson Allmond is another scholarship freshman who is not going to report because he is waiting for issues related to NCAA Clearinghouse issues to be resolved. Perhaps Brian Price can give him a call and tell the kid to hang in there.
The official site also posted whole bunch of pre-season notes. There were few details I found to be interesting and worth sharing. First here are the players we are going to have this season who missed entire if not most of last season due to injury and other issues:
WHO WAS MISSING -- The following players, who will return to the team for 2009, were listed in the 2008 pre-season two-deep or figured to play a prominent role, if available for action last season: Offense --- TE Logan Paulsen - missed 11 g to injury; OL Jeff Baca - missed 3 g to injury; OL Darius Savage - missed 2 g to injury; OL - Sean Sheller - missed all 12 g to injury; OL - Mike Harris - missed 7 g to injury; RB - Christian Ramirez - missed all 12 g due to academic eligibility issues; FB Trevor Theriot - missed 9 g to injury; Defense --- Kyle Bosworth - missed 10g to injury; DL - Jess Ward - missed 5 g due to injury; DL Reginald Stokes - missed 1 g due to injury.
So here is these guys staying healthy in 2009. All those injuries meant UCLA had a lot of cubbies getting action this past season:
YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE -- UCLA played a total of 22 freshmen (11 redshirt and 11 true freshmen) in the 2008 season. Sixteen of the twenty scholarship players included in that group are scheduled to return in 2009. Of that group of sixteen returning players, 11 have starting experience (Defense --- So. Rahim Moore, S - 12 g; So.R Steve Sloan, LB - 9 g; So. R Akeem Ayers, LB - 3 g; So. Datone Jones, DL - 2 g; So. Tony Dye, S - 1g; Offense --- So. Cory Harkey, TE - 7 g; So. Taylor Embree, WR - 8 g; So. Jeff Baca, OL - 8 g; So.R Nate Chandler, TE - 2 g; So. Derrick Coleman, RB - 1 g; So.R Mike Harris, OL - 5 g).
Needless to say it will be exciting to see how these guys can improve on this year. Also, a total of 29 players saw action for the first time in 2009:
FIRST ACTION -- A total of 29 players (17 offensive and 12 defensive) saw their first action as a Bruin during the 2008 season (11 true freshmen - seven offensive and four defensive players (LB Sean Westgate, S Rahim Moore, TE Cory Harkey, WR Taylor Embree, S Tony Dye, WR Antwan Moutra, WR Nelson Rosario, RB Aundre Dean, RB Derrick Coleman, OL Jeff Baca, DL Datone Jones); 11 redshirt freshmen - five defensive and six offensive players (DB Courtney Viney, LB Steve Sloan, LB Akeem Ayers, DB Glenn Love, OL/TE Nate Chandler, RB Raymond Carter, DL Justin Edison, WR Ryal Jagd, QB Chris Forcier, TE Glenn Rauscher, OT Mike Harris), six redshirt sophomores - three offensive and three defensive players (OL Brandon Bennett, LB Mike Schmitt, DL Reginald Stokes, OL Sonny Tevaga, OL Jake Dean, DB Garrett Rubio), one redshirt junior (QB Kevin Craft).
Of course some of those guys such as Carter, Dean and Craft are either no longer with us or will probably not get much action this coming year. However, I think those numbers show how Neuheisel will not hesitate to put in his young guys in there if they are competing hard out at Spaulding and doing what the coaches are asking them to do.
Lastly, the pre-season notes also has some interesting numbers on freshman QBs record at UCLA during last 20 years:
*2002 (8-5, T 4th Pac-10) -- Matt Moore (Fr.) game 8 win over Stanford; Drew Olson (Fr.) game 9 win at Washington; game 10 win at Arizona; game 11 loss to USC; game 12 loss to Wash. State; game 13 bowl win over New Mexico.
*1999 (4-7, 9th Pac-10) -- Cory Paus (Fr.R) game 3 win over Fresno St.; game 5 loss at Ariz. State; game 6 win over Oregon; game 7 loss to Cal; game 8 loss at Ore. State; game 9 loss to Arizona; game 10 win over Washington; Ryan McCann (Fr. R) game 11 loss at USC.
*1995 (7-5, T 5th Pac-10) -- Cade McNown (Fr.) game 3 loss to Oregon; game 5 win over Fresno St.; game 6 win over Arizona; game 7 win at Stanford; game 8 win over Cal; game 9 loss at Ariz. State; game 10 loss to Washington; game 11 win at USC; game 12 bowl loss to Kansas.
*1992 (6-5, 8th Pac-10) -- Rob Walker (Fr. R) game 2 win at BYU; game 3 win over San Diego State; game 4 loss at Arizona; game 5 loss to Stanford; game 10 win at Oregon; Ryan Fien (Fr.) game 7 loss to Arizona State.
*1990 (5-6, T 6th Pac-10) -- Tommy Maddox (Fr. R) game 3 loss at Michigan; game 4 win at Wash. State; game 5 loss to Arizona; game 6 win over San Diego State; game 7 loss at Cal; game 8 win over Oregon State; game 9 loss at Oregon; game 10 win at Washington; game 11 loss to USC.
*1989 (3-7-1, 9th Pac-10) -- Bret Johnson (Fr. R) started all 11 games. game 1 loss to Tenn.; game 2 win over San Diego State; game 3 loss to Michigan; game 4 win over Cal; game 5 win over Ariz. State; game 6 loss at Arizona; game 7 loss at Oregon State; game 8 loss to Washington; game 9 loss at Stanford; game 10 loss to Oregon; game 11 tie at USC.
You can sense that Cade McNown was kind of an anomaly and even he had a roller coaster first two years. Bret Johnson, Rob Walker, and Ryan Fien were total disasters (well Johnson was just a disgrace).
Anyway, those numbers above are fairly sobering and should be datapoints we all take into account before deluding ourselves with visions of grandeur that takes over average college football fans around this time of the year. I still think Prince will be an upgrade from what we saw last year. However, given how legends like McNown struggled during their first year in college we should keep our expectations in check.