Let's start today's walk with football. Jon Gold from the Daily News posted an interview with one of the latest Bruin recruit - Casey Griffith - the OL from Northern California JC, transferring into Westwood this season. Casey describes the excitement of Coach Bob Palcic around his recruiting:
"I went in and talked to him and he was so fired up," Griffiths said. "I like coaches that get really excited when they get new players. He was really into making me better and he had a really strong feeling about me coming in and playing for UCLA."
And so the 6-5, 280-pound offensive lineman is headed to Westwood to begin fall camp in less than a month.
While leaving ARC after one year was not a priority, the opportunity to join the Bruins was too much to pass up.
"I don't know if it was because of (UCLA's) situation now, but I didn't really have a lot of contact with other schools," Griffiths said. "I wasn't leaning toward getting out this year. I don't know if it was about me getting my name out, but I know I wasn't trying to get out after one. But Coach Jerry Haflich told me, 'You come, you do what can you do, we'll get you out.'"
Now he is on his way down to Westwood. Given Palcic's track record with developing OL, we are all excited to see the development of Case over next 3 years. Even if Casey doesn't break into the lineup this season, I am guessing Palcic saw enough in him to conclude he is going to be able to compete against the other guys in Spaulding and make our team better. So excited to hear about scouting reports on him when the camp gets going in less than a month.
Speaking of football, Adam Maya - the Trogan Alum - from the OC Register continues to make his mostly ignorant observations about Bruin football on the paper's "UCLA Blog." Maya is on full on concern trolling mode about Josh Shirley ending up at Southern Cal and hurting UCLA's LB depth (no link for garbage):
Leading up to signing day many thought Shirley (6-2, 225), the most sought after of the three, was headed to USC. Linebacker remains a position of need for the Trojans, who have seen two players transfer since the NCAA imposed its sanctions.
Linebacker is an even bigger need for UCLA, which is replacing two starters and has scarce depth or experience at the position. Shirley, one of the top-rated outside linebackers in the nation, was expected to push for a starting spot this fall.
Uhmm. First, of all the UCLA doesn't have "scarce depth" at LB. That is kind of a lie (which is habitual for a Trogan I guess). All one has to do is to go through UCLA's spring depth chart and see Ayers (Sam), Sloan/Larimore (Mike), and Love/Westgate (Will) heading UCLA's LB spots. Perhaps Westgate is a little undersized but when it comes to size and athleticism the rest of the group at least on paper looks like a solid bunch. They are also going to be anchored by a budding superstar like Ayers who has the experience.
Backing them up will be young and talented kids like Bowens and Golper. In addition, UCLA brought in Aramide Olaniyan, Jordan Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks, who are going to redshirt and provide depth for next season. So this notion of UCLA having "scarce" depth at LB is total BS.
I think it is a little premature to speculate what happens with Shirley. What we should hope is Shirley reflects a bit on what took place. He still has an opportunity to get it right by following the part set out by CRN. If he goes through a JC, stay on track with his coursework, and stay out of trouble, he will have a chance to come back to UCLA (along with the other guys) and redeem himself in a big way. If he ends up somewhere else, it will get interesting for whichever school decides to take that step. We will leave it at that for now.
Still to concern troll that Shirley leaving significantly hurts UCLA's LB depth is ridiculous given the talent we now have on our depth chart, the freshman who are coming in, and also the way CRN will continue to recruit this season and beyond. We are going to be all right with or without them. We hope to have them back. However, if they cannot make it back to UCLA, the world is not going to end for Bruin football program.
2. UCLA (3rd): Moved the Bruins up one notch - but not because I heard glorious reviews of JC transfer Lazeric Jones. Rather, I'm convinced (perhaps erroneously so) that Ben Howland will squeeze enough out of Jones and Jerime Anderson at the point to allow the surrounding talent (Lee, Honeycutt, Nelson) to shine. And it will help immensely that Howland is aware of the defensive deficiencies ahead of time, as opposed to being shell-shocked by them in-season.
Well that is nice but there are so many factors to resolve before getting excited. We have no idea how Lee's jumper looks at this point of time. We will have to see whether Lee, Anderson and others have put in the time in weight room. Speaking of weight, there is also the issue about the shape Josh Smith is going to be in at the start of the season. There is also the health concern and the status of our PGs. So yeah, way too early to get excited.
At this point the Bruins should be worried about rediscovering their foundation based on defense and rebounding. If there are signs that the foundation is getting back in place early in the season this Fall, then perhaps we can think about getting back into the tournament and earning back the respect lost from the dreadful previous season.
Lastly, ending with baseball, Blair Angulo has number of summer notes from the diamond:
Niko Gallego, a 27th-round selection in last month's MLB Draft, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 11 to forgo his senior season. Gallego, the son of 13-year big leaguer and current Oakland Athletics third base coach Mike Gallego, will be assigned to Class High-A Visalia of the California League. Gallego's departure means slick-fielding backup, who is playing the West Coast League this summer, will have an opportunity to start at shortstop next season.
Read rest of it here, which also includes note on Bruins bullpen heading off to the next level. It will be interesting to see how John Savage rebuilds his bullpen next season.