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UCLA Football - NFL Draft Day Bruin Bites

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We have some up to the minute news on our Bruins going pro this weekend, plus some interesting articles, projections, and tweets! Today we catch up with Eric Kendricks, Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Brett Hundley.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Today is the day young football players all around the country dream about. This weekend, Bruins Eric Kendricks, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Brett Hundley, Anthony Jefferson, Ellis McCarthy, and Malcolm Bunche will sit in anticipation and excitement to hear if their name is called. These Bruins have worked hard to reach their dreams and for some, today, tomorrow or Saturday, will be the first next step in reaching their dreams.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kids, don&#39;t ever let anyone tell you that hard work doesn&#39;t pay off. Can&#39;t wait to see which NFL team selects <a href="https://twitter.com/EKLA6">@EKLA6</a> <a href="http://t.co/gcWffXcdMW">pic.twitter.com/gcWffXcdMW</a></p>&mdash; Patrick Girardi (@pgirardiUCLA) <a href="https://twitter.com/pgirardiUCLA/status/593513748721086464">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Some may not hear their names this weekend, but they will still have a chance to try out for teams in the next few months. And for those that do hear their names, the hard work is just getting started.

So how are they feeling today?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So nervous....more anxious </p>&mdash; Eric Kendricks (@EKLA6) <a href="https://twitter.com/EKLA6/status/593237172662046720">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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I can only imagine. EK has been getting an amazing amount of good buzz from around the league and has picked up another well deserved honor:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Eric Kendricks was named to the 2015 NFF Hampshire Honor Society. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLA?src=hash">#UCLA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBruins?src=hash">#GoBruins</a> <a href="http://t.co/qmqptaeT0e">http://t.co/qmqptaeT0e</a> <a href="http://t.co/aTKK6gnnFm">pic.twitter.com/aTKK6gnnFm</a></p>&mdash; UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) <a href="https://twitter.com/UCLAFootball/status/593479256883232768">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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According to the official site, in order to qualify for membership you must:

  • Be a starter or a significant contributor in one’s last year of eligibility (or a senior who has declared for the NFL Draft)  at an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III or an NAIA college or university;
  • Achieve a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and
  • Meet all NCAA/NAIA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.

Congratulations Eric!  Eric may hear his name called today as many are expecting him to go mid/late first round or early second round. Among those rumored to select Eric are gbruin's Broncos, Jet-ski's Packers, Aikman's Cowboys, the Colts, the Saints, and a slew of other teams.  NFL.com has Eric's full profile including this nice segment from Path to the Draft.

Eric has chosen to stay home for the draft and join his friends and family for a two-day party organized by his girlfriend, Courtnall. They'll start off fancy, gathering Thursday at the Sherwood Country Club, and then meet up Friday somewhere low-key in Westwood.

Courtnall's party menu, she said, will be simple to match Kendricks' tastes: hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and enough salad and veggies to help maintain three months of grueling pre-draft training as well as possible. "My mom's been helping me a lot with the cake, and we've got a couple of surprises ready to go for him, too," Courtnall said.

Speaking of food, join Eric and brother Mychal for lunch.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hey <a href="https://twitter.com/MychalKendricks">@MychalKendricks</a>, how did it feel to be Rihanna&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCM?src=hash">#MCM</a>? <a href="http://t.co/hRfw7vYNLO">http://t.co/hRfw7vYNLO</a> <a href="http://t.co/igoL7BalRi">pic.twitter.com/igoL7BalRi</a></p>&mdash; NFL Network (@nflnetwork) <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork/status/592033868888289280">April 25, 2015</a></blockquote>

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And here's a must look back at EK's UCLA career:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/x24S4ce1h3s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Owamagbe Odighizuwa has also been turning heads as he meets with different teams around the league. Owa's versatility, strength, smarts, and speed are impressing the NFL, and so is his character. ESPN has the incredible story of the tragedies in Owa's life and how he and his mother rose out of them. I hope you don't mind that I quote at length:

When Odighizuwa was 3 years old, the family was living in Ohio, where he'd been born. With AB [Owa's morther] working and Peter [Owa's father] at school, it was difficult for them to provide supervision for their children. Odighizuwa and his first brother were sent to Benin City, Nigeria, to live with their grandparents.

...

And while being in Nigeria was difficult for Odighizuwa in some ways, returning home five years later wasn't easy, either. His parents' fighting took a toll. "I would say he saved me," AB said of her oldest son. "He is the one that was hurting when their dad and I were together. He was hurting the most."   She said her husband was sometimes violent at home.

...

"His teacher noticed the change in his attitude," AB said. "His teacher said he never says anything in class. She asked him, 'Why are you so happy today?' And he said, 'My mom is leaving my dad'.

...

Not long after that day, Peter made a decision that changed all of their futures. According to news reports, he had just been informed he would be suspended from Appalachian School of Law because of failing grades. On Jan. 16, 2002, he ran at the dean of the school with a .380 semiautomatic pistol and killed the dean, another faculty member and a student.

...

"I had my fear and I had my doubts, but I never let it be there for them to see," she said. "When they see fear, they become fearful as well, but when they see somebody strong, they want to emulate that. That's what I think they saw. ... Behind the scenes, I was going crazy, but it was more showing up, letting them see that they have somebody they can rely on, that they can talk to, that they can trust. Give them the strength to do what they needed to do."

When he was 11 years old, around the time his father's prison sentences began, Odighizuwa started taking care of his younger brothers. His mother began working an overnight shift at a hospital, relying on Owa to get his brothers ready in the morning so she could take them to school as soon as she got home from work.

Odighizuwa walked in last June's graduation ceremony before finishing the classes for his philosophy degree in December. His mother attended the ceremony, feeling like she was "on top of the world."

That moment was validation that the difficult choices she made for her children were the right ones.

In the next couple of days, that motivation and hard work will pay off for Owa, his mother, and his family. Owa, like Eric, is projected to be a late first or second round pick. The Patriotsthe Eaglesthe Saintsthe Cardinalsthe Broncos, and many Steeler fans are showing a great deal of interest in Owa. Teams believe he can fit in to any scheme, playing in either the 3-4 or the 4-3, and some are looking at him as an outside linebacker, including the Broncos. Check out the excellent scouting report on Owa put together by Mile High Report and Owa's 2014 highlights:

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Brett Hundley has also been making the rounds and one place he would really like to land is back at home in Arizona. Maybe it is because he is a quarterback, and it is probably the position most difficult to predict, but Brett is projected to go anywhere from rounds 1 through 4. But Brett's not listening to the noise, which he says was the greatest football lesson he learned at UCLA:

Not listening to the noise. That's the reason I don't read or listen to anything that's put out. When you do that, you're giving somebody else's opinion more power than yourself.

USA Today met up with Brett in Westwood where Brett discussed how he sees his future and says he's ready to compete and start in the NFL. Bolts from the Blue makes the case that Brett would be the Chargers best option at quarterback. Jon Gruden said after having worked with Brett on his QB Camp:

You can see why he's the captain at UCLA. You can see why the Bruins turned things around and became a top-10 football team, because they have a top-flight quarterback at the NCAA level.

Brett has visited and/or worked out with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals,Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys and Rick Neuheisel says Brett is the most undervalued player in the draft. You can follow much of Brett's draft news at Path to the Draft, including this really neat video of Brett and his dad. You can also take a look at Brett having some fun with fashion in Chicago:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kings For A Day <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/chicagostyle?src=hash">#chicagostyle</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/draftparty?src=hash">#draftparty</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/drafttown?src=hash">#drafttown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nfldraft?src=hash">#nfldraft</a> <a href="http://t.co/x3WQMXCtqe">http://t.co/x3WQMXCtqe</a></p>&mdash; Lou Malnati&#39;s Pizza (@LouMalnatis) <a href="https://twitter.com/LouMalnatis/status/590281175727386625">April 20, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Check out Brett's NFL profile and let's look at #17 one more time:

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We will catch up with Anthony Jefferson, Ellis McCarthy, and Malcolm Bunche tomorrow.

Wishing our Bruins all the best today and in the future.

Go Bruins!