It's only Wednesday, but all eyes in Bruin football-land are already looking ahead to this weekend when the Bruins will host its final official recruiting visits, and there are some really big time names who are giving U.C.L.A. the final say before National Letter of Intent Signing Day a week from today
Per Bruins Sports Report, this weekend's visitors (barring any last minute drama) include:
Not to get caught up in rankings, but there are 33 stars there. So, yeah, it's a big weekend. Of those visitors, only Tuioti-Mariner is committed to the Bruins. Ballage is currently committed to ASU, Godchaux is committed to the LSU Tigers, and Dixon is currently committed to Southern Cal. All the rest are not verbally committed, though they may be silents or have their minds pretty well made up. Dupre, Godchaux, and Young are all coming from Louisiana, weather permitting. Let's hope that Coach Mora, staff, and the players hosting our visitors can show them all the best of U.C.L.A., because we know that learning and playing at U.C.L.A. is an opportunity that no one else can match.
There may also be some unofficial visitors this weekend, as well, but one name that unfortunately won't be on that list is Rashaan Evans, the 5* LB from Auburn, Alabama. He was considering taking an unofficial visit but cancelled it earlier this week. The kid is getting ginormously big time pressure from the locals to stay home, but Coach Mora and Coach Ulbrich aren't giving up. Evans has three great options, and I understand the comfort of being close to home, but life doesn't present too many opportunities to really create yourself, and if Rashaan wants to be the next Anthony Barr, or Myles Jack, the Bruins are his best option. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Anthony Barr, the Bruins star LB has been associated with most of the teams picking early in the 2014 NFL draft. Monday, it was the Buffalo Bills' pundits looking at taking Barr at pick #9. Yesterday it was the Minnesota Vikings pipping the Bills by taking Barr at #8. Today, SportsOnEarth.com profiles him as a surefire top-10 pick. The NFL Scouting Combine in late February is still to come, but with only 2 years of experience and an unlimited upside, the future looks bright for the Bruin LB (who incredibly couldn't crack BSPN's All-American list, though he made everyone else's).
And speaking of Bruin linebackers, there was a great breakdown of Jordan Zumwalt yesterday on WithThe FirstPick.com, one of the SI.com fan sites. Zum was killing it (almost literally) at the Senior Bowl practices until a groin injury shut him down for the game, and he is undoubtedly busy rehabbing for the upcoming scouting events. He is currently projected as an early 4th round pick, but his crazy athleticism and incredible motor may tempt some teams earlier than that. Though he didn't get a chance to play in the Senior Bowl game, he drew raves during the practices, and this was coming off of a defensive MVP award in the Sun Bowl (though BSPN's Ted Miller saw fit to leave him off of their All-Bowl team. WTF is wrong with you, ESPN?).
And still speaking of #LinebackerU, a former Bruin LB is making a lot of news for his noteworthy actions off of the field. Ramogi Huma, founder and president of the National College Players Association, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the Northwestern Football team. In essence, the move is an effort to unionize the college players in a group called the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA).
Not much generates talk like a discussion on paying college athletes (except maybe whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame), and this topic may serve better as a basis for its own article and discussion, but what the Northwestern players are pushing for is actually more along the lines of better medical support and scholarship security as opposed to just plain money. They also make it clear they are doing this on behalf of all college football and basketball athletes, and it is not a movement against their university specifically as much as it is against the NCAA.
Huma said the goals of the CAPA are the same as that of the NCPA. The group has pressed for better concussion and other medical protections, and for scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance.
Having already successfully advocated for the creation of multiyear scholarships, it now would like those scholarships to be guaranteed even if a player is no longer able to continue for injury or medical reasons. The group has also called for a trust fund that players could tap into after their NCAA eligibility expires to finish schooling or be rewarded for finishing schooling.
I think we can all appreciate that principle and find more than a little sympathy for the players in that regard. Northwestern is a very highly respected University, so I think their argument carries more weight coming from the Wildcats. This isn't u$c we're talking about. But even those trogans would agree that the NCAA is not a college athlete's friend.
This will be a very interesting process, and there are certainly merits to the NCPA's position, though most labor and union experts expect the push will be opposed by the NCAA and will eventually fail. But credit Huma for advancing some critically important issues on behalf of college athletes.
freesia39 wrote a fantastic piece on Huma for BN over 2 years ago. Huma played LB for the Bruins during that great run in the mid 90's when we owned this town for 8 years in a row. An injury cut his playing days short but his mind picked up the ball and kept right on running. He got his degree in sociology at U.C.L.A. and then an Masters in Public Helath and he is proving once again that Bruin athletes (including Ed O'Bannon, Brendan Ayanbadejo, and Chris Kluwe, for example) succeed in real life as much as they do on the field.
Finally, in case you missed it, check out the video that Nestor linked last night. Believe me, nothing makes up happier around BN than celebrating our teams and players. #Hundley4Heisman. Man, I love these players. I was in Brett's hometown of Chandler AZ a week ago for a kids hockey tournament and I wore UCLA gear everywhere.
Tomorrow is a basketball day, and we'll be back with football news on Friday as the big recruiting weekend gets underway.