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The Neuheisel Cupboard for UCLA Football

A look at the contributions to this year's UCLA Football team from players recruited by Rick Neuheisel.

Steve Dykes

When Norm Chow arrived at UCLA with Rick Neuheisel, he looked around and could barely find enough starters for his offensive line.

Karl Dorrell dressed well and slept well, but he couldn't sell UCLA to a straight A Eskimo football player. His recruitment strategy was akin to Hansel and Gretel, picking up the leftover crumbs from Cheat Carroll's steamroller.

We have discussed at length how coaching under Neuheisel was an unmitigated disaster, from the switch to the pistol to some of the worst defenses ever seen at UCLA. I will always wonder how Neuheisel would have done if he had been dealt a full deck of cards in terms of resources, and hadn't been so snake bitten with injuries.

But that is moot at this point.

What I wanted to show instead was how Neuheisel helped set up the current revival of the program through his recruiting. Sure, the players I am about to mention needed the right coaching to succeed, but if anything, Neu had an eye for talent and an undying passion for UCLA.

Now check this list below, based on this year's roster:

  • Isaiah Bowens
  • Keenan Graham
  • Stan McKay
  • Brandon Sermons
  • Damien Thigpen
  • Shaq Evans
  • Darius Bell
  • Xavier Su'a Filo
  • Anthony Barr
  • Seali'i Epenesa
  • Jordon James
  • Anthony Jefferson
  • Malcom Jones
  • Eric Kendricks
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa
  • Aramide Olaniyan
  • Jordan Zumwalt
  • Jake Brendel
  • Ryan Hofmeister
  • Brett Hundley
  • Steven Manfro
  • Devin Lucien
  • Conor McDermott
  • Kevin McReynolds
  • Jerry Neuheisel
  • Sam Tai
  • Aaron Wallace
  • Torian White
  • Ben Wysocki

That's a total of 30 players who are still on this year's roster. And the players whose names are bolded are listed as starters, a total of 11 players, or half the team. If you go into the 2 deep, there are even more players who contributed significantly to the team this year. Just look at the list, you have heard, seen or read about all of these players this year.

I didn't include the 2012 class, as it was difficult to start telling apart the Neuheisel recruits vs. the Mora recruits. I also did not include last year's team, which included guys like Joe Fauria and Datone Jones.

In any case, I think my main point here is that despite the less than stellar results on the field, Neuheisel contributed greatly to the foundation of the current program by filling up the cupboard as best he could. And the second point is that our coaches seem to have done a good job with these recruits, some of whom were really underachieving in the previous regime, which hopefully bodes well for their own recruits who will have even more of that coaching.

So, in short, thank you Rick!

Go Bruins!