Yesterday was an exciting day to be a Bruin. National Signing Day turned out to be a great success for UCLA - we didn't get every player that was target, but the coaching staff came pretty close to that standard, closing with three new commitments and reconfirmations from three other 'loosely committed' recruits in the final 24 hours.
We covered Bruin-related signing day news pretty extensively during the day on Wednesday, but here are some other recruiting and other notes that have come up in the past few hours.
In a couple of interviews that I caught last night with Coach Mora, he noted how recruiting was a new experience for him and that he was much better able to get a feel for recruiting and the young men he was recruiting in this class. He also told the LA Times about his greater awareness of how much the public follows recruiting.
"One of the things that really intrigued me with this recruiting class was the focus that the public has on recruiting," said Mora, who was hired after the 2011 season. "Last year, it was such a whirlwind. I didn't get a chance to pay attention to anything other than what we were trying to do right at that moment. This year, there has been more time to feel how much interest there is out there."
... "We filled some needs," he said.
Yes, the coaches were able to fill several needs in the program. One that many of us were concerned about was at Quarterback - not that there is an immediate need for an impact player with Brett Hundley in the program, but quality depth and a possible successor was a definite necessity. SI.com noted some of Mora's thoughts on recruiting Asiantii Woulard as well as some of the guys who will be protecting him in the pocket.
"We quite frankly got lucky that (Woulard) was out there and available when he was,'' Mora said. "The stars aligned. There were points in this process where we weren't going to take a quarterback. ... We did the research on him and it just seemed like the perfect fit for our offense.''
UCLA filled a need up front by signing seven offensive linemen, something no Bruin recruiting class had done since 2004. ...
"We're not going to limit what they can do,'' Mora said. "Some of these guys are outstanding high school football players and we expect them to be outstanding college football players very soon.''
In his Signing Day press conference, Mora noted that he expects all of the incoming linemen to come in and compete for a starting spot. During an interview on the Pac-12 Network's Signing Day show, he shared the expectation that at least one or two of these incoming freshmen can earn a starting spot this fall.
Fox Sports West high school football reporter Rahshawn Haylock looked at the divergent paths of the UCLA and Southern Cal recruiting efforts. Lane Kiffen talked with the media after a day that left little for the Southern Cal coaches to do.
Kiffin said USC was hurt in recruiting because of negative comments about his job status. He said it hurt out-of-state recruits more because they pick USC more for the coach than for the school.
Kiffin blamed media outlets like ESPN for decommitments because they make such a big deal out of announcements.
In short, Kiffen whined that his recruiting class was hurt because after he decided to focus on recruiting out-of-state players (guys who don't really care about USC), those recruits realized that he is a shitty coach and questioned the wisdom of coming across the country to play for a guy that is likely out of a job a year from now. Crazy, right? And with all the brown-nosing that ESPN has performed upon Southern Cal's football program over the past decade, now they are the problem - that no other major football program seems to have a problem with? LOLOL.
Wolf also noted that Kiffin bigfooted Nico Falah's wish to break the news of his signing with USC on Fox Sports yesterday afternoon - as opposed to Coach Mora respecting Cameron Judge's request not to publicize his signing until appearing on the same Fox Signing Day program.
Here is one UCLA-connected signing day story that does not involve a recruit coming to Westwood. Bill-Bijon Parker is a senior WR/DB at Fairfax High. UCLA coaches had been talking with him, and he had hoped to receive an offer to become a Bruin - though looking at his recruiting info, that was not likely going to happen. While the Bruin staff told him that he was not going to receive an offer, they did not forget about Bill. Coach Martin talked with Jeff Mills, a former colleague at UW and the current DC at New Mexico, to tell him about Bijon-Parker.
But Parker will become a New Mexico Lobo, pending a signed letter of intent today – thanks in large part to UCLA assistant coach Demetrice Martin.
... After UCLA opted not to offer a scholarship, Martin contacted Mills regarding Parker. Things happened quickly after that.
Mills met Parker at Fairfax, then visited him at his home that same day.
As noted last night, the LA Times was able to confirm a story that first arose in some parts of online Bruindom a week or two ago: Malcolm Jones is coming back to Westwood.
UCLA also got a recruiting bonus. Running back Malcolm Jones, who left UCLA last fall, will return to Bruins as a non-scholarship player, Mora said.
Jones was a high-profile recruit out of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, where he was named the national Gatorade player of the year as a senior. But Jones' career meandered in his first three years at UCLA.
Switching from recruits to graduating seniors, CNNSI.com published its 2nd 2013 NFL Draft big board. Look who has made his way into a 1st round grade.
Why, hello there. Jones is right up with Lane Johnson in terms of players who helped themselves the most during Senior Bowl week -- he finished with a solid game (3 tackles, 0.5 sacks). His ability to get off the ball is consistently noticeable, even when he overruns plays.
Datone Jones UCLA, senior 6-4, 280 DE
Congrats to Datone on all the hard work that he is putting in, and best of luck in making it into the 1st round! And for anyone looking for a laugh, try scrolling down to, say #37 on that Big Board.
And in case you forgot (or tried to repress the thought), we do still have a basketball team. And they have a game tonight against Washington. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm Pacific time, and Bill Walton will be calling the action.
Bruin great and NBA Hall-of-Famer Don Barksdale's jersey will be retired at halftime tonight. Like his predecessor in Westwood, Jackie Robinson, Don was an athletic trailblazer - the first African-American to be named an NCAA All-American; the first to become a member of the US Olympic Basketball team and the first to become an NBA All-Star. An honor that the late Mr. Barksdale deserved long ago.