We will start our Spaulding roundup with a little trip over to Ted Miller's ESPN Pac-10 Blog. Ted has been publishing a series of posts starting with the title of "Don't be surprised ..." last few weeks in his attempt to offer up "unusual angles" to this upcoming Pac-10 season (gotta give him an "A" for effort given how difficult it is to come up with content during this nuclear winter of college football season). So Ted yesterday focused his efforts on UCLA observing that our offense could be "much better in 2009". Here are his reasons for offensive optimism:
- No way a Norm Chow offense lays another egg like this one. In the quarter-century-plus he's been coaching offenses, he's never had one as bad as 2008.
- The offense welcomes back nine starters, though redshirt freshman Kevin Prince has unseated Kevin Craft at quarterback.
- Five players who would have started last year but were unavailable for various reasons -- injuries, suspension, transfer rules, etc. -- will be good to go in 2009: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and offensive tackle Sean Sheller.
- That beleaguered offensive line not only welcomes back Sheller, it also gets six guys back who started at least five games last fall. What's more, incoming freshmen Stan Hasiak and Xavier Su'a-filo, as well as JC transfer Eddie Williams, represent one of the nation's best recruiting hauls of O-linemen.
Ted then went on to project a 6-6 regular season. That is pretty much on par with the discussions we have had on BN since the end of spring camp. I still think though we have to wait to see how the Fall camp shakes out and how kids like Stan Hasiak and Xavier Su'a-filo to the college game. We are not going to have a shot if our OL improves from last year's dire straits to an averaging perfoming unit this season, putting together a foundation for the upcoming ones.
As we have said before we have to treat this year like Howland's second year in Westwood. That year it was all about getting into the NCAA tournament after Howland's (but not so surprising) first season. Of course barely getting into the NCAA tournament will never be up to UCLA standards. However, getting to that point in Howland's second season was a sure sign of tangible improvement that set him for future success. Getting into a bowl game this year for CRN's program will similarly set him for better seasons in the coming years in Westwood.
If Neueheisel and co. are able to pull off a bowl season this year expect that to boost their solid recruiting efforts even more. As the OC Register's Adam Maya notes in his June roundup, Bruins have momentum with 4 commitments and are zeroing on number of prospects from Southern California and across the nation:
- Three-star receiver Anthony Jefferson of Cathedral High includes UCLA in his top five, along with USC, Cal, Oregon and Oklahoma.
- Three-star cornerback Cullen Christian ranks UCLA No. 3 among schools he’s considering.
- Servite High DT Kirifi Taula said UCLA is his favorite and he would likely commit once he receives an offer. The Bruins already offered Tesoro High OL Silvarius Ajawara, who has just recently gotten more attention but said he’s always loved UCLA.
Several of the top recruits in the nation (Rivals.com’s top 100, Scout.com’s top 100) list UCLA as a possible destination, including: OT Seantrell Henderson (Scout and Rivals’ No. 1 overall player), DE Ronald Powell (No. 12, Rivals), RB Malcolm Jones (No. 15, Scout), WR Robert Woods (No. 17, Rivals), S Sean Parker (No. 19, Scout) and RB Anthony Barr (No. 20, Rivals).
Of course one of the guys who just committed to CRN is Bay Area's Brett Nottingham. He has been impressing scouts all over the Western region this summer. Greg Biggins from ESPN becomes the latest prominent Western recruiting guru to jump on the Nottingham bandwagon:
Brett Nottingham (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista) came in to Vegas with a lot of confidence after strong camp performances at Colorado, Stanford and UCLA. All three colleges offered scholarships and the signal caller fulfilled a lifelong dream committing to the Bruins, where both parents and two of his sisters attended.
Nottingham had a good workout and is one of those quarterbacks that just does everything well although he may not wow you in any one respect. His arm looked a bit tired after attending so many camps the previous weeks but arm strength will not be an issue at the next level.
Nottingham already has a college body at a solid 6-4, 210 pounds, takes great drops, throws well on the run as well as in the pocket and is a great leader with a magnetic personality.
Sounds perfect for UCLA.