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Spaulding Roundup: Seniors Shine, Crunch-time For Recruiting & A Surprise QB For UCLA

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Let's start the week with a little reset on our football team. Have some news and notes to pass involving our seniors, recruiting madness and also a little surprising within the team involving a QB. I will start with the senior. longbordr52 already took note of Ryan Moya making a name for himself in the East-West Shrine game. It looks like there were three other seniors who also played in that game and represented the Blue and Gold really well:

Austin made two receptions for 18 yards (the West only had 12 completions), averaged 8.0 yards on two punt returns (one for 15) and had 24 yards on two kickoff returns.

Verner returned one kickoff (13 yards) and one punt. On defense, he made three solo tackles and broke up one pass.

Carter was third on the West team with five tackles (four solos), including one for a two-yard loss.

ATV actually wrote a post about the week leading up to the shrine game. It sounded like he along with his Bruins team-mates did really well during the practices leading up to the game:

On the football side, it's been an interesting but intense week. Monday through Wednesday were intense practices, with the latter of the two practices each day being in full pads. Scouts flooded the sidelines from goal to goal and all eyes were on us. I have been doing exceptionally well, making plays when presented the opportunity. I have made a couple of interceptions and break-ups through the drills. Reggie Carter has been solid in the middle; Ryan Moya has adjusted to his new spot at h-back very well and Terrence Austin made several touchdown catches on Wednesday. Overall, UCLA has been well represented this week.

We will have fingers crossed for all of those guys. While ATV and co. are working to get to next level, UCLA coaches are in a full court press mode to close out this year's class. More on that and a very interesting roster note re. QB situation after the jump.

So Craig Haubert from did a little breakdown of Pac-10's recruiting classes to date on ESPN. Here is his capsule on UCLA:

Commits: 18 | ESPNU 150: 4

The Bruins' goal of closing the recruiting gap between cross-town rival USC just got more difficult with Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron arriving. However, this is a talented top-20 class with a pair of in-state running backs ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. Under Armour All-American Jordon James (Corona, Calif./Corona) has a great blend of speed, shake and deceptive power. Malcolm Jones (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) is a strong downhill runner, who can carry the load and wear down a defense. The Bruins also added another potential weapon at running back in ESPNU 150 ATH Anthony Barr (Torrance, Calif./Loyola), who has a nice blend of size, speed and athleticism. However, the No. 11 ranked athlete in the country could also play as an H-back or even on defense. It is important to note that his senior season was cut short by a broken ankle and it will be interesting to see how he rebounds from it. On defense, linebacker Aramide Olaniyan (Woodberry Forest, Va./Woodberry Forest) brings speed and smarts to the defensive front seven. Defensive tackle Julious Moore (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) is an explosive penetrator. However, losing Nottingham to Stanford last weekend hurts a position still in need of depth.

Top prospect: James fell a bit under the radar in the early going due to limited junior footage as a result of a hand injury. However, when healthy, this explosive and sudden 190-pounder can hurt defenses between the tackles with yards after contact or on the perimeter with great outside burst and long speed. He should see the field early in Westwood as a complementary back.

Don't be surprised if: Kip Smith (Broomfield, Colo./Legacy) is the next excellent UCLA kicker. Rated No. 2 at his position by ESPN, Smith is versatile and can kick off, punt and has long range on field goals.

Of course coaches are now working to closeout these last few weeks. Again here is the list of Bruin targets Ryan identified heading into signing day:

  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa- DE, Portland, OR (Nebraska, Oregon, UCLA, Oregon St.)
  • Markeith Ambles- WR, McDonough, GA (LSU, North Carolina, Tennessee, USC, UCLA)
  • Ego Ferguson- DT, Chatham, VA (Cal, Florida St., LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Maryland, Nebraska, UCLA, Oklahoma)
  • Cassius Marsh- DT, Westlake Village, CA (LSU, UCLA, USC)
  • Ricky Heimuli- DT, Salt Lake City, UT (UCLA, BYU, USC, Utah, Oregon, Oregon St, Washington)
  • Dietrich Riley- DB, La Canada, CA (UCLA, USC, Tennessee, Notre Dame, LSU)
  • Josh Shirley- LB, Fontana, CA (Arizona, Miami, Notre Dame, UCLA, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, Wahsington)
  • Anthony Jefferson- ATH, Los Angeles, CA (Cal, Oregon, UCLA)
  • Hayes Pullard- ATH, Los Angeles, CA (Arizona St., Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington, Notre Dame)
  • Sealii Epenesa- DT, Honolulu, HI (Baylor, UCLA, Oregon St.)
  • Jordan Zumwalt- LB, Huntington Beach, CA (Stanford, UCLA, USC)
  • Giovanni Di Poalo- OL, Ventura, CA (USC, UCLA)

What stands out to me is how that list is overwhelmingly geared towards defense. So much for the stigma of CRN just being obsessed with offensive skill positions. If CRN closes out with Epenesa, Pullard, Jefferson, and Heimuli or Marsh, I will be ecstatic. If he brings in both Heimuli and Marsh and adds Zumwalt and Owa to the equation, he should be considered as a recruiting God from here on out.

Speaking of Owa, it's going to be an intense battle for him. Not only it is going to be difficult to pry him out of Oregon, Nebraska is a making a huge run for him too. There is a really cool piece on him (and another Oregon recruit) in the News Tribune (a Washington news outlet) that describes his potential as a defensive menace:

(Curtis) White is slated to sign with Oregon on Feb. 3, national letter of intent day. Odighizuwa is undecided but has narrowed his choices to UCLA, Oregon and Nebraska.

In fact, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was in Odighizuwa’s living room Thursday night, according to multiple news reports, along with his defensive staff, to make a final push in landing the blue-chipper from Nigeria.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly and UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel already made their final visits.

"Totally unblockable?" White said when asked about his in-state counterpart. "I feel (Odighizuwa) could be like that at the college level very early. If he doesn’t end up in the Pac-10, he will be a load wherever."

Again, my gut tells me that UCLA was in the driver seat early for him but now it's a pitch battle against Nebraska and Oregon. If CRN somehow manages to pry him out of there, it will be nothing short of amazing.

Of course, QB spot has been an interesting topic of discussions thanks to the shady way Nottingham decommitted in last couple of weeks. There has been a lot of discussion re. UCLA's QB depth. Next year we will have Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, who as far as we knew would be followed by Nick Crissman and Ted Landers (a preferred walkon I think). Looks like we have another name to add to the mix. WestwoodBob, an astute poster on BruinZone spotted the name Clayton Tunney in our official roster, who is listed as a RS sophomore transfer from UC Davis. To the youtube we go:

Well at least the tape looks interestingly impressive. Here is his bio from UCDavis:

Attended Hampden Academy (Maine) for two years, then La Costa Canyon HS for his junior and senior years... Lettered in football and basketball... Earned first-team All-America honors at Senior Bowl (Shreveport, La.)... Also captured All-North County and All-Palomar League first-team distinction... Led North team to victory in Alex Spanos North-South All-Star Game... Set school season records for passing yards (2,400), completions (158) and TDs (19) in 2004... Named to San Diego Union-Tribune All-Academic team.

It also looks like some people were wondering why he wasn't getting offers despite having a great senior season. From around 2005:

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana - Recruiting is a funny game. Actually, it is not funny, sometimes it's disgusting. Clayton Tunney was the 5A number one in total yards passing and he was selected as one of five finalist as the Prep Pigskin Player of the Year Award!  The kid that won that award was in 3A football and he is going to Dartmouth. Jason Forcier was also a finalist and he is going to Michigan.

Tunney was CIF 5A Passing Leader of the Year in the San Diego Area and he does not have a scholarship offer while three other quarterbacks in lower classifications in the San Diego Area already have their scholarships in-hand and are preparing to enter school next fall on a full scholarship.

Here are his senior accomplishments for 2004: 2004 Max Emfinger All-American Bowl Game Classic; 2004 First Team All CIF San Diego Tribune; 2004 First Team All North County San Diego; 2004 First Team All Palomar Conference; 2004 Prep Pigskin Player of the year finalist (one of five finalist)(Reggie Bush won it two years ago.); 2004 All time most prolific passing at La Costa Canyon High school. (He broke the record of Kevin O’Connell who is the starting quarterback at San Diego State; 2004 First time in school history that LCC beat Torrey Pines; First time in school history that LCC played in the CIF Semifinals; and he was the 2004 Number one total passing yards for a Division-I CIF QB for San Diego.

It is interesting that other quartertback's from San Diego, who played in smaller Classifications such as Jason Forcier (MICHIGAN); Derrick Shaw (ARIZONA STATE); and Sean Canfield (OREGON STATE) have already gotten their offers and have committed to Major D-1 schools and Tunney does not have a single offer yet.

In the All-Star Bowl Game Classic, Tunney completed 8 of 13 passes for 147-yards and two touchdown and he also ran for another touchdown while splitting time with another quarterback, Clint Bricker, who also does not have an offer from a D-1 school yet

What is the most disappointing of this recruiting story is that every college coach that sees Tunney on film, tells him and his family that he is the best that they have seen on film, but still no offer has come

"I thought Tunney came along way this year and he turned into a great quarterback," said Head Coach Darrin Brown. "We didn't always block for him all year and he was one of our most prolific passers in school history. What a great season he had. Like I tell the recruiters, he is very mechanically sound and is very accurate. He's the best kid I have seen at throwing on the run, and the best at 1,3 and 5 step on time."

Well that was 2005. Tunney went on to UC Davis and then took his LDS mission. So by that calculation he is about a 23 year old red-shirt sophomore on UCLA's roster.

I don't think the kid is some kind of magic bullet. However, I do find this situation very interesting.The kid doesn't sound like an ordinary walk on. I also think the LDS connection with Chow and Prince probably played a factor of him coming on to UCLA. Prior to Neuheisel's arrival, Karl Dorrell would instantly give a scholarship to this kind of player. Instead these days, UCLA has only room for him as a walkon because CRN is bringing in so much talent.

In this case, seems like Tunney could potentially be a serviceable backup option as the 3rd or 4th QB on the roster. That can only help to bridge the QB gap, as Bruins can work on bringing in one or two elite QB recruits next season. Plus after all this is the school with the legend of John Barnes who gave us "a little rush" that was Musafa Abdul Hamid's buzzer beater on steroids.