clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bruin Bites: News and Notes on UCLA Football

As our Spring Olympic sports wind down their playoff runs and Baseball gears up for theirs, let's look at some of the football news and notes around the UCLA-iverse

Eric Kendricks, making plays, every day.
Eric Kendricks, making plays, every day.
Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Things are a bit quiet on the U.C.L.A. Football front in Westwood, but our recent Bruin draftees are making some noise.

And what makes more noise than The New York Post? Granted, it's not always good or even rational noise, but in this case, they got it right. Fittingly for Mother's Day, The Post looked back at the story of Owamagbe Odighizuwa and how his mom helped Owa and his brothers escape from his father's horrible presence.

This Mother's Day, Owa will not be home in Portland, Ore., to be with AB. He just finished his first NFL rookie mini-camp with the Giants, the first taste of the NFL for a chiseled defensive end from UCLA, the Giants' third-round draft pick. He signed a four-year contract for around $3.4 million and his career is underway.

"It is very uplifting,'' AB told The Post. "It's just a validation of my hard work. It just validates that a mother's hard work is never in vain if you focus on your kids and trust God to guide you, it's never in vain.''

Owa knows his mother's fortitude is the reason he rose out of such a toxic environment, changed but not harmed.

"That's one thing I want to do in life is make sure she is taken care of and she never has to worry about anything,'' Owa said. "She did that for us, and I think it's an honor to be able to give back in that capacity. The things she did and sacrificed, I can never repay with anything that I do. I can try but in my mind I just think if I was in her shoes, could I have done the same thing?''

The story details the chaos and abuse Owa suffered at the hands of his father who is serving consecutive life sentences for a murderous shooting spree at a Virgina Law School. Owa's success, including both his outstanding football career and his U.C.L.A. diploma, are all the more impressive when you consider what he, with the guidance of his mom, was able to overcome.

Owa was already impressing at the Giants' rookie camp last weekend.  From our SB Nation friends at Big Blue View...

Third-round pick Owamagbe Odighizuwa is really quick off the snap. Either that or offensive tackle Sean Donnelly, one of the undrafted free agent signees, is really slow. On three successive plays during an abbreviated 11-on-11 stretch Odighizuwa had the corner before the seemingly slow-footed 6-foot-8 Donnelly was out of his stance.

Trust me. It was Owa.

And it makes me even happier that we have another Odighizuwa on the way.

Meanwhile, it appears the Minnesota Vikings have come to the stunning revelation that Eric Kendricks is a middle linebacker. With all due respect to the Vikings coaches and scouts...Duh.

Eric Kendricks may eventually move to an outside linebacker spot sometime with the Minnesota Vikings, but for now with the current set up of the players at that position, he's going to start his run in Minnesota at middle linebacker.

Head coach Mike Zimmer said as much when he supported his 235-pound second-round pick from UCLA.

"I like big guys," Zimmer said, via "But the thing about us defensively is, the way we play our defensive line, some of our linebackers can be a little bit smaller. Part of the job of our defensive line is to keep our linebackers so they can run and hunt. So I'm not concerned about his size."

Having the DL control the opposing offensive linemen and allowing the linebackers to roam and make plays is exactly the kind of scheme that suits a player like Kendricks. I'm tired of hearing people talk about EK as if he is Tyrion Lannister. Dude is 6-1 and 235 and is athletic as hell. People who didn't know better questioned his size at U.C.L.A., and he simply made play after play after play...

the guy who made a school-record 481 tackles at UCLA, and twice led FBS schools in solo tackles for an entire season.

That's more tackles than anyone in Bruin history, and anyone else in college football for a couple of years, while you're at it. He is big enough to play middle linebacker. And play it every down.

Unless Brian Urlacher climbs into Hot Tub Time Machine III, returns to the year 2000 and brings his younger self back to sign with the Vikings, Kendricks looks more like the NFL's modern version of the three-down middle linebacker than most of us realize. (Besides, we all know by now that you can't interact with yourself when you travel back in time. Duh.).

Duh is right.

EK will trade his #6 for a more traditional LB number 54 for the Vikes this season, putting him numerically next to his former roommate, Anthony Barr (#55).

I wonder how Deon Hollins will look in purple...

And on the subject of Bruins getting doubted, QB Brett Hundley is already making scouts outside of Green Bay look bad. All those concern trolls talking about slow reads and too many sacks and this and that missed the big picture of U.C.L.A. football and the finer points of Brett Hundley. Luckily, the Packers are not missing them.

"When I put the Washington tape in, you look like the best quarterback in the country. When I put the Stanford tape in, you look like a different guy," said [ESPN Analyst Mike] Mayock. "After 41 starts, why am I getting two different guys? And I think that's part of what happened with this evaluation. He's so far away from being a consistent starting quarterback that he's a year to two down the road."

It's because of those inconsistencies Mayock described that it was so reassuring to hear Packers head coach Mike McCarthy praise the rookie quarterback following the team's first practice of rookie minicamp this past weekend.

Hundley donned a Packers jersey for the first time on Friday and showed some traits that will be comforting for Packers fans to hear.

"I thought he threw the ball well, particularly anticipation," said McCarthy. "I think any time you watch a quarterback come in Day 1 with all new receivers, new cadence, new center, particularly working under center and exclusively with a new center, I thought he had some throws that he threw with a lot of anticipation. That's always encouraging.

from the same article...

Hundley also embraces the "football nerd" title applied by Packers director of pro personnel Eliot Wolf in a press conference following his fifth round selection.

"I love school, but I love football," said Hundley, placing extra emphasis on the latter. "I just like learning. It's so interesting to me. I'll read books, I'll do anything I can. I'll watch film. I was in the film room for lord knows how long. I'll just sit there and watch film, because it's interesting for me to see different techniques and reads.

"It's even more fun to me now because you get so much more knowledge. You don't know what you don't know. So at the same time, when you come to this level, you have so much more coming at you, and you can learn that much more now."

It hasn't been ruled out that Hundley could beat out Scott Tolzien for the No. 2 quarterback job in Green Bay, but the UCLA product is destined to backup Aaron Rodgers for quite a while, as long as the starter remains healthy.

Hundley will wear #7 with the Packers this year instead of his previous #17, but no one expects he'll see the field much with reigning league MVP Aaron Rogers quarterbacking the team. And that's alright with Hundley, for now.

"I'll always remember that; I'll always remember Pick 147," Hundley said. "But at the same time I know that I can play and I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I know I can play with the best of them. Now, Aaron, he's an awesome quarterback. I've got awhile to get to that."

"I think when you're around greatness, you keep growing and eventually, hopefully, I can get to his level," Hundley said.

"He's the MVP, an all-time great quarterback and one that I really looked up to coming out of college," Hundley said. "So to be able to learn from him -- he's playing, and obviously it's impossible to beat him out."

As for Bruin quarterbacks, don't look for the name Everett Golson to be added to that list anytime soon. There has been a lot of speculation recently about the Notre Dame transfer considering U.C.L.A. but it appears that interest is one sided.

As JoeBruin15 updated in his article, the Bruins have not contacted Golson and have no plans to do so.

A source close to UCLA football told that the Bruins coaching staff has had zero contact with outgoing Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson and none is planned.

Golson led ND to an undefeated season in 2012 before losing in the BCS Championship game (Manti Te'o, anyone?) but then missed the following year due to academic suspension, and led ND to an 8-5 record last year. He's an accomplished quarterback with plenty of big time experience, exactly the opposite of the four Bruins QBs vying for the starting spot this fall.

So what this clearly says is the Bruins, despite Jim Mora's poker face on the subject, are happy with their quarterback depth chart from the recent spring camp. While Josh Rosen appears to nearly everyone as the current leader for the spot, Asiantii Woulard has a ton of upside, too and has been in the system for 2+ years now, and Jerry Neuheisel and Mike Fafaul are solid options behind them. Unlike some other recent ND athletes (Eddie Vanderdoes, Joseph Fauria, Shaquelle Evans), this is one Irish player the Bruins don't need.

I would have loved to give a more personal update on Anthony Jefferson and his progress with the Chicago Bears rookie camp last weekend, because we happened to be staying in the same hotel in the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills. Alas, he was busy with working out with his team and I was busy shuttling two kids and their teams around to various hockey rinks so I didn't get a chance to ask him how things were going. But at least according to one observer among our SB Nation friends at Windy City Gridiron, Anthony Jefferson looks to be on track to make the 53 man roster. It makes some sense, as defensive backs are a highly valued commodity in the pass happy NFL these days, and Jefferson's skill, versatility, and his background in special teams should make him a great option for Da Bears.