While folks are watching the World Cup, let's catch up with some news and notes worth highlighting on the home page. I will start with some good news on the football front as CRN and co. reeled in a new commit from Colorado. Last night, 6-7, 275 pound OL Marc Mustoe (Arvada West (Arvada, Colo.)) committed to Bruins. He had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Kansas State and Louisville, among others. From the Sporting News:
"UCLA was a great place all around," Mustoe told Rivals.com. "It was first class in everything. The football program is just amazing with what they are doing and building is really great. The education is solid, but I think mainly it was the coaching staff really sold it."
Thanks to Brandon Huffman from BRO for breaking the story last night. Mustoe is not projected to be an immediate contributor but he is going to come into the program and provide much needed depth at a crucial position down the line. Welcome to UCLA Marc. More after the jump.
A pair of Bruin football standouts, junior linebacker Akeem Ayers and junior safety Rahim Moore, appear on the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List which features the best of the upcoming season's defensive players. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte,NC Touchdown Club.
Making the case for Ayers: The above sentence hurt to type. Just so wrong. Ayers should have been not only on our list last year, he probably should have been in the top half. This year, he might rank among the nation's top 25 players. The Pac-10 blog wasn't the only one who skulled an evaluation of Ayers. League coaches only gave him honorable mention all-conference honors. So what can we say about Ayers? Start with this: He was involved in 10 turnovers. Then consider this: Of those 10, he turned three into TDs (two interception returns, one fumble return). Go here and see how many Bruins scored more TDs last year than Ayers. And, of course, UCLA fans are recalling those two interceptions -- vs. Oregon and vs. Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl -- which might have been the two most-spectacular defensive plays in the nation last year. Ayers makes spectacular plays because he's a spectacular athlete who might bolt a year early and end up a first-round NFL draft pick in 2011. He already was named first-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele, while The Sporting News tapped him second team. He's also on the watch list for the Nagurski Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive player.
FYI Forbath was number 25. Rahim Moore hasn't appeared on the list yet and I am assuming he will be coming up soon. Can't imagine the accolades they will be getting if they stay healthy and on track for further development leading us to yet another productive year (building on last year's bowl winning season). It will be very interesting to see the recruiting effort CRN will have to undertake if they both absolutely blow up this coming season.
Moving over to the baseball, it looks like Bruins are the national seed standing at the CWS. Folks are talking about it. I think people are making too much of a big deal about Bruins not having to face ASU. I don't think it really matters who the Bruins take on as long as we keep chipping away at the plate and maintain our pitching. Still it sounds like the Bruins did learn something from that humbling experience courtesy of Arizona State:
"I think we learned a lot from them," said Cole, who was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft out of high school by the New York Yankees but turned them down for the opportunity to play for UCLA. "They were unbelievable the way they took the field and they way they played 9-on-1, really smothered you at the plate. And I think we took a lot of the elements they have, the foundation of their team, and we kind of incorporated them into our team and we tried to sort of replicate that on the stuff we had already built our team on.
"We knew we were on a roll. But we also knew at the same time that we could be a lot better, and they showed us that."
One of the steadying influences on Cole and the pitching staff has been none other than Steve Rodqiguez. The LA Times has a very nice article on our "unsung hero" behind the plate:
Rodriguez has the best relationship with Cole. They were roommates as freshmen, and remain close friends. The jokes usually fly the most when they're together, but the mood remained serious during Monday's game against Texas Christian.
Cole had been cruising before allowing three runs in the seventh. With two out, Savage headed toward the mound with plans of inserting reliever Dan Klein. Cole remained in the game, and the Bruins held on for a 6-3 victory.
"It was an intense meeting," Rodriguez says. "Gerrit just said, 'Coach, trust me, I'll get this guy.' I looked at Coach and said, 'This is Gerrit's game.' The next thing you know, on the next pitch, we got the guy out."
Rodriguez has made the biggest impact with Rasmussen, who is Friday's likely starter. After the Cal State Northridge game Feb. 21, Rasmussen's first start, Savage decided to let Rodriguez call the games he pitched.
It resulted in an 11-2 record and 2.73 earned-run average for Rasmussen.
"He's been just unbelievable, especially for me," Rasmussen says. "He knows what we want to throw. He deserves a lot of the credit for our success as a staff and manages things and kind of runs the game."
Hopefully Rodriguez and Rasmussen can keep the magic going this Friday. It is going to be a challenge to take on TCU in what will most likely be a hostile environment with a pro TCU crowd rooting on the Horned Frongs and ESPN announcers declaring them to be the team of destiny, groveling all over the TCU catcher and their own ace Matt Purke.
Bruins have proven skeptics wrong all season and accomplished a lot of "firsts" for our program this season. Should be interesting to see if they can take yet another memorable step forward on behalf of the four letters on Friday.