Lot of news to pass on before we all get ready for this weekend. We have some news from summer workouts, baseball summer league details, and also some blockbuster recruiting news from women's hoops. So let's get right to it and start with football. Taylor Embree just put up his third summer blogpost on the official site. His notes on off-season workouts - dubbed "82 Review" - are pretty interesting:
So far in the weight room we have seen some big numbers from individuals and the team as a whole has stepped up the intensity resulting in a great first half of summer lifting. Along with our excellent weight training, Coach Linn has us working hard on the agility aspect of our training. We have a series of cones and ladders that we go through which are set up to create competition among each position. These agility drills are my favorite workouts we do over summer because it is a chance for us to work on our stop and go speed and getting in and out of breaks.
Along with workouts we also have throwing three times a week. This has been exciting because we get a chance to teach the new freshmen the plays and compete against them. Anthony Barr impressed everyone when he made a nice catch on a ball thrown behind him, spinning around and using all hands to snag the ball. Malcolm Jones has made some nice catches on some check-down routes and it is clear to see how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands. Players on both the offense and defensive side have made big plays. Jerry Rice has made a few nice catches - the most impressive one was on a post-route over two defenders for a touchdown. On defense, Rahim Moore had a nice interception in the red zone preventing a touchdown.
As always, we have to maintain perspective before getting too excited from reading about summer workouts. Keep in mind every team in American according to their players and fans, get bigger and stronger during off season (it always happened to us during Dorrell years too). So folks should contain their enthusiasm a bit about these reports.
That said, I do think it is interesting to hear Barr getting his shot on the offensive side. From what we had heard coaches were going to give him a shot at RB at first, before contemplating move somewhere else. From his comments this off-season (on BRO's subscription article), Barr seems very open to whatever plan coaches draw up for him but for this summer at least it seems like he is starting at offense. I do love the note about Jerry Rice though. Remember he is a walk on and not sure if he will ever get meaningful game actions, but just a lot of fun to see that name flash in UCLA related updates. More after the jump.
The Bruins are one of the safest bets to return to Omaha next season. Sure, they have the tough chore of replacing pitchers Erik Goeddel and Garett Claypool and likely Dan Klein, Rob Rasmussen and Matt Grace, too. But they welcome back the nation's best one-two punch in Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. The bullpen will need some restructuring, though. At the plate, the Bruins should be better than the unit that hit .304 this past season. The Bruins must replace Blair Dunlap but welcomes back Tyler Rahmatulla, Cody Regis, Chris Giovinazzo, Beau Amaral, Dean Espy, Cody Keefer, Steve Rodriguez and perhaps even Niko Gallego and Brett Krill. This UCLA team will be amazing if the bullpen can figure out some roles.
As excited as I am about next year's baseball season, keep in mind how highly we were ranked just two years ago before crashing and burning with a sub .500 season. I don't expect that to happen this year because of the experience, but still as fun as it is read about UCLA as huge favorites to return, you can't take trip to Omaha for granted (just think back to what happened to squads like Texas and Virginia this past season).
The UCLA baseball program has sent 21 players around the nation to play in the most competitive summer leagues. Beau Amaral will play for the Chatham Anglers (Massachusetts) in the Cape Cod League, while Gerrit Cole and Steve Rodriguez are vying for spots on the U.S. Collegiate National Team.
Cole and Rodriguez have been invited to National Team Trials in Cary, N.C. and will find out whether they have made the 22-man roster by Monday, July 12.
UCLA has sent 10 players to the West Coast League, two to the Northwoods League, two to the New England Collegiate League, two to the Prospect League and one to the New York Collegiate League.
Full details of where everyone is going is available at the official site. Going to a summer league game in Cape Cod is an amazing experience. If you have been lucky to live around New England, I highly recommend it.
Justine Hartman, the No. 8 ranked prospect in the 2011 class according to ESPN HoopGurlz, verbally committed to Boston College in January. According to her father Matt Hartman, she decommitted from BC on June 28th. After that time she made an unofficial visit to UCLA and committed to Nikki Caldwell and the Bruins shortly thereafter.
"Obviously, it was a tough decision and she very much liked the BC staff and their vision for their program," Matt Hartman said. "However, based on shifts in priorities and a desire to be closer to family based on recent family events, she decided she would like to stay close to home. She has always liked the UCLA staff and she is excited to be a Bruin."
Hartman is the second commitment for Caldwell and Co., joining fellow southern Californian Kacy Swain of Temecula. Swain is a 6-foot-3 versatile forward who will complement the 6-2 post from Brea Olinda High School. The commitment gives UCLA two recruits ranked in the top 20 of the class.
Welcome to Westwood Justine and Kacy. Major HT to TrueBlueBruin24, who took a break from his vacation in Europe to specifically email us about the development above. Needless to say it should gin up the excitement level for Caldwell's program to another level this coming season in Westwood.