It's been a busy week around Bruins Nation since we last checked in for the bi-weekly Bruin Bites: DCBruins broke down the "UCLA factor" and how it played into the NBA Draft and our Bruins' performance on the next level, but unfortunately, it didn't seem to help either Tyler Honeycutt or Malcolm Lee, as we watched them both slip into the second round of this year's NBA Draft. While those two Bruins were preparing for the NBA, two former Bruin hoopsters returned to campus to finish their degrees: King Ed and B. Diddy returned to Westwood to finish classes. On the flip side, after Stan Hasiak's disappointing dismissal from Westwood for academic reasons, Nestor broke down the outlook for our offensive line this upcoming season. The work week closed out with Neuheisel catching fire, bringing in three commitments for football's Class of 2012. We've also been having a bit of fun, tracking the SBN conference re-draft, which has seen UCLA get more respect from the outside world than from the chumps at Morgan Center. Finally, we've been keeping tabs on Patrick Cantlay's sizzling second round at the Travelers Championship (but subsequent concession of the lead during the third round).
But here we are at the end of the weekend, so it's again time to bring you the little bits and pieces from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Alec Faldermeyer, a sophomore on UCLA's track-and-field team, dominated the hammer throw at this week's U.S.A. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, capturing the junior class title and securing a berth at the Pan-American Junior Championships next month in Florida. Of the top six throws in the competition, Faldermeyer had five of them, putting himself head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
- Switching over to football, ESPN's Blair Angulo sat down with one of my favorite Bruins of all-time, Alterraun Verner, and discussed the rivalry between us and the Southern California Cheaters. ATV, of course, made it clear to Blair that he bleeds Bruin blue and gold, but despite that, he's able to keep it professional despite working alongside trOJans in the NFL. But ATV was sure to note that it's UCLA that's "the cream of the crop."
- On the recruiting front, despite Neuheisel bringing in the recruits for the Class of 2012, one major recruit remains undecided: Barry Sanders, Jr. (yes, the son of that Barry Sanders) has narrowed down his college choice down to Oklahoma State (his dad's alma mater), Florida State, Alabama, and UCLA, but is in no rush to commit, taking his time to make a college decision. He's also got offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, and national champs Auburn. First, think about that: this kid has offers from the elite football schools and yet UCLA is in his top four. That should tell you something about where UCLA stands in people's minds (despite the lack of respect we get from our own goons in the Morgan Center). Second, Neuheisel has a lot of work to do to bring this kid to Westwood if he's going to beat out some elite programs and the pull of following in Barry Sr.'s footsteps in Stillwater. But we know Rick can close, so hopefully he'll get out the coffee again this year.
- On the quarterback side, online blog Opposing Views tells the rest of the world what we've known on BN for years: that consistent QB play (with some better quarterbacks) is key for UCLA to return to football prominence. If you've had your head buried in the sand for the last two seasons, their run-down is a nice summary to skim through for context before reading through the more detailed break-downs and analysis here at BN.
- Sticking with football, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News ranked the Pac-12's wide receiver corps, with UCLA coming in at #9. No shock there, given how this unit has consistent underperformed the last few years, with poor route running, dropped passes, and failure to make anything happen once the ball gets into their hands. That said, the talent is there, although it was hampered by poor coaching (Reggie Moore) and poor QB play (injured Kevin Prince). With new coaching (Mike Johnson) and (fingers crossed) a healthy and consistent QB, hopefully we'll see improved play from the WR corps this year. #9 in this conference is just embarrassing. That better change.
- Finally, on the baseball front, UCLA commit Joe Ross is getting pressure from the San Diego Padres to sign with the organization that drafted him in the 1st round (#25 overall) of this year's MLB Draft. Like fellow UCLA commit Austin Hedges (drafted by San Diego in the 2nd round, #82 overall), Ross is still undecided as to whether he'll go pro or stick with his commitment to John Savage's program. It'll be tough to turn down MLB first round money, but John Savage does have one major selling point to make to Ross (and to a lesser extent Hedges): Gerrit Cole. As most on BN know, Cole was originally a first round (#28 overall) pick for the New York Yankees, before decided to go to UCLA instead, and was now the #1 overall pick in this year's draft (by the Pittsburgh Pirates). Let's keep our fingers crossed that Savage can work his magic again.
And those are your Bruin Bites for the end of the weekend. Get out and enjoy the weekend sun if you haven't already.