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UCLA Football Friday: Looking to the Future — Draft, Prospects, & Playoffs

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With National Signing Day less than three weeks away, we take a look at some news about possible future Bruins and the future of past and present Bruins.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It is speculation time in college football as future players prepare to submit their letters of intent and departing players prepare for the draft.    Will our commits actually sign their letters of intent?  Will UCLA bring in some last minute surprises like it has in the past?  Where will Brett, Eric, Owa, Ellis, Anthony and others be drafted?  We all speculate, because we care, but no one really knows.  Excitement and disappointment are both in our future and here's to hoping we Bruins experience more of the former.

So let's start by looking at what is happening with our great Bruin leaders who are preparing to take the next step.  IE Angel took the best look at each of our NFL prospects here. Jack Wang also takes a look at the future of Bruins Eric Kendricks,  Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Brett Hundley, Anthony Jefferson, Jordan James, and Malcolm Bunche. We also now know that Ellis McCarthy will pursue his dreams to play in the NFL this year.  Wang notes that Owa is the most impressive physically, and looking at some draft boards, it is possible that he will be the first Bruin drafted.  Gil Brandt from the NFL's CFB 24/7,  did a run down of NFL team needs and Owa is listed in many as one of the top three pass-rushers. Brandt also list Eric as one of his top three line-backers, so it will be fun to see where each go.  Gbruin would probably like this version of the draft which has Owa landing in Denver in the first round (and Eric landing in Indianapolis right after him).

As for Brett, Rob Rang of CBS Sports thinks Brett may be the mobile quarterback Chip Kelly needs to successfully run his offense in Philidelphia.

Incumbent starter Nick Foles did a fine job when healthy and Mark Sanchez provided evidence that others could come in and be successful with this scheme. Neither, however, possesses the mobility at quarterback that made Chip Kelly's offense so formidable at Oregon. Given full power over personnel as part of the Eagles' recent re-structuring of the front office, Kelly is in position to make a splash on draft day.

The Eagles have the 20th pick.  You can listen to Rob Rang's thinking here. It's all just speculation and it can be fun to see how wrong all of the speculation ends up being.  In the end,  we hope all of our Bruins land in the right place and in a situation that will help them succeed at the highest level.

One thing we do know is that Eric and Owa will be competing in the Senior Bowl on January 24th in Mobile, Alabama.  Brett was also invited, but wisely decided to decline the invitation. If you would like to watch, the game will be shown on the NFL Network at 1pm Pacific Time.

So what does the future hold with these young men leaving our team?  Based on current commits, rivals ranks UCLA's current class as the 17th best while scout has the Bruins ranked 12th.  The rankings (and the team) took a big hit when four/five star TE Alize Jones changed his long-term commitment to Notre Dame.  Many think the change was primarily due to wanting to stay with his closest friend who will also be playing for the Irish.  UCLA, however, has been aggressively been recruiting #1 TE Chris Clark and has been quite imaginative in their approach putting together a futuristic write-up of Clark's amazing career at UCLA:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Coolest recruiting pitch <a href="http://t.co/hbDZO5ztLt">pic.twitter.com/hbDZO5ztLt</a></p>&mdash; Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) <a href="https://twitter.com/Clark8Chris/status/555549068194508800">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote>

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and as Menelaus noted, it looks like Mora and Clark had a good visit yesterday:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Great time with coach mora and the gang <a href="http://t.co/guEyWwJce0">pic.twitter.com/guEyWwJce0</a></p>&mdash; Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) <a href="https://twitter.com/Clark8Chris/status/555900501766582274">January 16, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Clark's twitter account is a good way to watch all the graphic appeals coming from his remaining two choices, Michigan's Harbaugh is also going hard after Clark.

This week UCLA will be hosting three star commits linebacker Victor Alexander and athlete Octavius Spencer  and wide receiver prospects four star Carlos Strickland and Tony Brown.  Wide receiver Ryan Newsome enjoyed his meeting with Coach Polamalu:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Texas WR Ryan Newsome on his meeting with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLA?src=hash">#UCLA</a>&#39;s Kennedy Polamalu today: &quot;Polamalu is awesome, love him, great visit.&quot;</p>&mdash; Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) <a href="https://twitter.com/EdwardLewisBSR/status/555779920102584320">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote>

Landing an elite WR is clearly a need for the Bruins moving forward.  We will have to wait to see what happens.

Linebacker U..CLA also has a commit from five star DE/LB Keisean Lucier-South.  I thought it would be fun to take a look at Keisean in action.

Oh yah, we also have a five star qb who started school this quarter.  Josh Rosen is on campus and seems to be handling his new position with UCLA football with wisdom and maturity.  From Chirs Foster, Rosen is looking forward to getting off to a fast start.  But also knows that he is the new kid on the block and needs to earn his respect:

Everyone is going to be looking at me to see how I react to the first time I get yelled at. They are going to want to see how I react to the first time I get told to do something. If I put effort into everything I do around the team, I can earn their respect.

Hundley has been advising Josh:

Nothing is going to be as you imagined or as easy as you think. It's a major learning curve that you have to get to really quick.

and Josh is looking to take the program "that has made great strides" according to Hundley, to the next level:

I want to be a good guy who won football games. I want to push them over the heap and get them a national championship.

And according to former teammate Jaleel Wadood winning is what Josh does, saying he "knows how to win".

Josh will bring a different style of play to UCLA:

He does it his way. I'll do it my way.  I don't plan on running the ball as much. I definitely want to use my incredibly dedicated, large and determined offensive linemen to protect me. I'll get the ball to receivers and let them do their thing.

"If," he adds, "I win the job."

It looks like Josh knows how to build a good relationship with the people that matter most!

A brief view to last year.  We know that UCLA ended up at the #10 position in both the AP and Coach's polls.  The Bruins also ended up #7 in the CFB 23/7 Power Poll rankings. In terms of Pac-12 play, here is how some of our players finished statistically: Brett Hundley 5th in total yards.   Perkins #1 rushing yards and #4 in all purpose yards/game.  Jordan Payton #7 receiving yards/ game and Hundley #3 pass efficiency.  You can see all the data here.

This weekend you can see many of our Bruins in action in the NFL.  The Bruin making the biggest impact in the playoffs so far is clearly Green Bay's Datone Jones who blocked a field goal attempt and recovered a fumble last weekend.  Other Bruins on remaining playoff rosters are: Akeem Ayers and Matthew Slater for New England, Sheldon Price for the Colts, and on the injured reserve list Derrick Coleman and Cassius Marsh for Seatlle (so no need to be tempted to root for them!).

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Awesome watching <a href="https://twitter.com/UCLAFootball">@UCLAFootball</a> alum Datone Jones make big plays in their playoff win today! <a href="http://t.co/BIG5rKIzCr">pic.twitter.com/BIG5rKIzCr</a></p>&mdash; Sal Alosi (@Coach_Alosi) <a href="https://twitter.com/Coach_Alosi/status/554415540857344000">January 11, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Have a great weekend and as always...

Go Bruins!