I want to end the Friday night on a positive note and put aside all the anxiety and frustrations around our basketball team. Thank fully we have the football program giving us one sign after another about how Rick Neuheisel has changed the zeitgeist around UCLA football program.
Let's go back to the Super Wednesday when CRN closed out another excellent recruiting class. That day started off with a bang with the signing of Jordan Zumwalt, the four start LB from Orange County (and for a while Stanford Cardinal's most highly rated commit for the class of 2010). While we all rode the Zumwalt roller coaster to a happy ending, there was another amazing story behind his signing of a Bruin LOI. Zumwalt is coming into UCLA with his team mate - Edison lineman Luke Gane- accepted a preferred walk-on role at UCLA. A reader of ours emailed this courtesy of moonbruin from BruinReportOnline (who gave his permission to share it) last night:
Luke missed most of the 2008 season after suffering a blood disorder, aplastic anemia, which apparently first hit him as a bloody nose that would not stop. He was hospitalized for a lengthy period, and had life-saving blood transfusions fron one of his younger brothers, the only match they could find. The Servite football coach arranged for proceeds from their game vs Edison to be donated to help pay for medical bills.
The Gane family later presented a plaque of appreciation to the Servite staff. Evidently the Edison coach, Dave White, provided emotional support to Luke by calling daily and arranging for his teammates to visit him in the hospital regularly.
Now of course the cynical fans will note right away, that Rick Neuheisel is allowing him to walk on just so he could attract Zumwalt. I am sure there will be some writers who might even jump on it to push their "Slick Rick" line. Too bad there is so much more to this story which I get to on the other side of the flip (with a video interview of Luke).
Here is what moonbruin (who BTWis from the OC and well plugged into this story) had to say (emphasis added):
I have been told that Neuheisel and some assistants met with Luke to discuss his walking on at UCLA, that Zumwalt and other teammates were there during the visit, that Neuheisel said something about having his own buddies with him like Luke did. Apparently they discussed Zumwalt and Gane playing together at UCLA, but at some point Rick pointed out to Zumwalt that he had a big decision between Stanford and UCLA (and, I suppose, Southern Cal) and that he needed to weigh all the factors and not be swayed by UCLA's offer ro Luke to walk-on.
The Gane family was reportedly quite impressed with Rick, his integrity, and the whole presentation of the UCLA staff.
Just another story that makes you appreciate how CRN has been rebuilding our football program. Not to mention once again it doesn't take 10 seconds to discern Luke (and Jordan) are "UCLA type of guys". Welcome to Westwood Luke.