The UCLA football team practiced in Westwood yesterday for the first time since Spring and they practiced on the Intramural Field instead of Spaulding due to the start of construction on the Wasserman Football Center. Last night, I wrote about the added benefit of practicing on the IM Field being that the team can now practice on full-size fields rather than the abbreviated 80-yard fields at Spaulding.
Chris Foster of the LA Times writes about Stephen Johnson III and Bolu Olorunfunmi hoping to earn playing time as freshmen. Foster quotes Olurunfunmi as saying:
I knew Coach Mora and his history of always playing freshmen. I knew I would have an opportunity to have a chance to play here.
His article describes Olorunfunmi's "pinball style of running", where he lowers his shoulder to take on defenders and he quotes Olorunfunmi as saying, "I knew coming here that's what I had to do. My upside wasn't speed or agility. I would have to lower the shoulder. That's what I've been doing since Day 1."
Foster also looks at Stephen Johnson III who was signed during the winter as a defensive back, but it was the opportunity to play right away that probably made the decision for Johnson. The article quotes Johnson:
I looked at the roster, checking to see who redshirt, and I noticed that a lot of freshmen get the opportunity to play.
Meanwhile, Jack Wang also has an article about Olurunfunmi on the Daily News website. Wang looks at how Bolu came to camp with something to prove and concludes that he succeeded at doing so because "San Bernardino turned out to be a mini-breakout" for him.
Olurunfunmi is hopeful to see time this season in a crowded backfield which includes Paul Perkins, Nate Starks and Craig Lee who missed camped due to academic issues.
Meanwhile, Olurunfunmi is keeping the right attitude. Wang quotes him as saying:
Put me in the game, ready to go. If not, I’m always ready to go in.
Wang also posted post-practice press conference video from yesterday of Myles Jack speaking with the media and featured it on the InsideSocal site. Thanks to Jack for posting the video you see below. Myles is clearly glad to be back from San Bernardino, but he recognizes that the team will be better because of it.
It's interesting to see that none of the reporters present even asked a question about The Academic Institute or the ongoing Bellevue HS football scandal in Jack's home state of Washington.
Over the weekend, the Seattle Times ran a story detailing how at least 17 Bellevue High School football players took their high school classes at the private Academic Institute where someone other than the players' families picked up the tab. Under Washington law, students who attend a private school without a football team can opt to play football for a public school team in their home school district.
To be sure, the article makes no direct connection between Jack and any improprieties; however, the fact that no one even raised a question about it could almost be considered journalistic malpractice.
I wouldn't necessarily expect much of an answer out of Jack about it because making one wouldn't be the smart move on his part. And, despite one reporter trying to get Jack to say he has one more trip to San Bernardino left, the Bellevue scandal may very well factor into a decision by Jack to turn pro after this season.
The Seattle Times article does discuss that the NCAA has started questioning academic credits from The Academic Institute for some players, but, again, nothing in the article connects Jack directly to any improprieties at Bellevue HS or at The Academic Institute. The well-written report will certainly raise eyebrows from anyone connected with UCLA by detailing issues with players who attended The Academic Institute and who played football for Bellevue and it leaves it to the reader to connect the possible dots with respect to Jack.
The Seattle Times has been looking into the irregularities with the Bellevue High program for at least several months and it's something Bruin fans may want to keep an eye on.