Bruins had a quick practice on Friday after taking the day off Thursday for some team building exercise. They took a paintballing trip which according to Mike Johnson's post practice presser was fun. Of course speaking of Johnson, if you didn't see it, you should check out his post practice video we fanshotted earlier on Friday. The professional and gracious manner in which Johnson has been handling these bowl preparation week is worth noting again. It is especially impressive given how the transition period between two coaching regimes is difficult on the staff.
As for practice, starting QB Kevin Prince sat out practice on Friday for precautionary reasons. Johnson mentioned that he expected Prince to be back tomorrow. Bruins are going to have a big practice tomorrow with Mora and his new staff bringing in lot of recruits to check out Westwood. In retrospect, while UCLA (and Illinois) has been mocked a lot for their participation the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the appearance in this game may turn out to be a huge blessing in disguise, not just for the purposes of getting in extra practices for the young players, but also for Mora and his new staff to show case their program with live practices at Spaulding. The timing couldn't have been more fortunate for the new UCLA coach.
Speaking of timing, it appears that the Noel Mazzone to UCLA "deal" is not done yet. At least not officially. As noted by BruinMW in the fanshots section a note on CBSSports.com indicated that Mazzone is "expected to interview" with new ASU coach Todd Graham and that his "negotiations over compensation have reached a snag" with UCLA. Obviously UCLA fans have every reason to be concerned about the penny pinching ways of our inept Athletic Director in this situation but I am not worried about this situation.
First of all it appears that ASU's Graham (who already has developed quite the reputation in college football world in recent days) has already brought in his Co-OC from Pittsburgh Mike Norvell. I am not sure why Mazzone will want to stick around in a situation where Norvell will most likely run the show. I think there is a good chance that Graham and Mazzone are doing courtesy interview while Mazzone is still working out the final deal with UCLA. Honestly, even if Mazzone doesn't end up coming to UCLA, Mora can look at other coaching options such as Kliff Kingsbury from Houston (more names here). Ultimately, I think Mazzone will end up with UCLA as he has more to gain by being in a program, which may be positioned to generate lot of recruiting momentum thanks to the staff Mora has already put together in Westwood.
Moving on to recruiting, Jon Gold has a good post up on Inside UCLA about recruiting implications of couple of Mora's new hires. The new OL coach Adrian Klemm may help out UCLA in number of ways beyond outreach to number of SMU recruits from Southern California:
While there are several SMU commits that UCLA would potentially go after, the presence of Klemm could actually end up helping more with recruits like four-star offensive linemen Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk. Both Simmons and Tuerk had great relationships with Klemm during the process but decided to stay closer to home and both are now committed to USC. They are both elite linemen who are solid on their commitments as of now but expect UCLA to try and get involved once again. Klemm was also the lead recruiter while at SMU for several uncommitted prospects that UCLA has already offered including offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Cedrick Poutasi, defensive backs Kevon Seymour and Ishmael Adams and linebacker Jeremiah Allison.
While Steve Broussard could open the doors for UCLA on other fronts:
In the current recruiting cycle, Broussard garnered commitments from seven Los Angeles area prospects, including five from high-school powerhouse Long Beach Poly. Three of the commits, four-star wide receiver Richard Smith, three-star cornerback Randall Goforth and three-star linebacker Matthew Rowe all hold UCLA offers. Four-star wide receiver Kenny Lawler was also a one-time commit to ASU but decommitted after Dennis Erickson left. Lawler still has a good relationship with Broussard and said that he definitely liked the hiring at UCLA and placed them into his top four with Cal, Michigan State and Oregon State after dropping UCLA as an option a few weeks ago.
Broussard was also the point man in the recruitment of UCLA commit Raymond Ford. Ford has a very good relationship with Broussard and his hiring should only firm up Ford's commitment even more. Other potential recruits that could be impacted by the Brossard hire include former USC commit wide receiver Jaydon Mickens (who planned to take an official to California this weekend but cancelled and will now take an unofficial to UCLA), defensive tackle Milo Jordan (who will also be visiting this weekend), cornerback Brandon Beaver, wide receiver Bryce Treggs and running back D.J. Foster.
Bruce Feldman from CBSSports.com has more on the recruiting potential of Klemm, Broussard and Demetrice Martin, three recruiters who apparently had done a lot of "damage to UCLA" at their previous stops and now may have potential to make more impact with a "bigger brand to sell":
A few battles to keep an eye on: CB Kevon Seymour, who goes to the same school (Muir HS) that Martin, a former USC staffer, went to. Many recruiting insiders figured Seymour was heading to USC. UCLA wasn't even a factor. Well, the Bruins are a factor now.
Klemm had developed a relationship with OL Jordan Simmons while the coach was at SMU. Simmons is committed to USC but now Klemm is working hard to flip him to UCLA.
Ellis McCarthy is the best D-linemen on the West Coast. His father had wanted him to go to UCLA but the Bruins struggled to make a favorable impression with the 295-pound DT from Monrovia, CA. Martin, though, has a good relationship with the big man and his family and is working hard to get him to Westwood.
The Bruins also have a shot now with Arik Armstead, a one-time USC commit and one of the top line prospects in the country.
Next few weeks are going to be very interesting. BTW, speaking of Feldman we were able to do a Q&A with him yesterday. Look for that on BN on Sunday morning.