Welcome back football fans. With 74 days to go until the 2015 UCLA football season begins, things are coming back to life over at Spaulding. While the intent of this article is to welcome the new class of Bruin football players to campus, their arrival seems to have been overshadowed just a bit by another event at the football facility yesterday.
There are two main reasons for this overshadowing as far as I can tell. First, the other event involved a famous father, an arrest, TMZ and possibly violence. Second, and more importantly, Ralph Irvin is no longer around to give us his great video of players moving in with the help of their wonderful families. So instead of getting to hear from our newest players and their families, the heart-warming photos of family members this week are all the TMZ kind.
In both cases, the jury is still out on what really happened. You can read all the updates on the Sean Combs situation, where a jury just may be needed to settle the situation. However, I still am not clear on why Ralph is no longer around and his up close and personal coverage of all things Bruin is dearly missed. I wish we could have let a jury decide to keep him on!
So back to the real story - the new Bruins on campus.
Sunday, our new Bruin football players made it to campus. I am sure it was a proud day for the young men, their families, and their fathers. What an amazing way to spend Father's Day. Among the players coming to campus was #1 runningback Sotonye Jamabo whose situation has been up in the air since his arrest in April. The Daily Bruin reported Sunday, however, that Soso was on campus.
This summer's newcomers include WR Cordell Broadus, TE Chris Clark, OL Tevita Halalilo, ATH Dechaun Holiday, RB Soso Jamabo, OL Andre James, ATH Stephen Johnson III, DB William Lockett, DE Keisean Lucier-South, RB Bolu Olorunfunmi, DB Colin Samuel, DB Octavius Spencer, OL Fred Ulu-Perry, DE Rick Wade and OL Josh Woriboko. They will join early enrollees QB Josh Rosen, OL Zach Bateman, DB Nathan Meadors, and LB Joshua Woods. Welcome to Westwood Bruins!
One of the freshman that will probably be turning heads this year is Chris Clark and I think he's off to a great start:
Rocking number 8 this year @BigJoeFauria
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) June 22, 2015
To get a deeper look at the incoming class in the context of the whole team, take a look at BruinAZ's excellent previews of the Bruins offensive unit, and of the defense and special teams units. AZ takes a look at the depth not only this year but in years to come. As many have pointed out, one of our strongest positions this year, in talent and in depth, will clearly be linebacker. NFL.com's CFB 24/7 has tagged Myles Jack and Deon Hollins as the nation's third best linebacker duo's:
Jack gets all the attention with his dynamic play and occasional action at running back, but Hollins' contributions last year were too good to be overlooked in the shadow of Jack and second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks. It was Hollins who led the team in sacks last year with nine, and even though he made just 31 tackles, his ability to rush the passer will be a key for the Bruins this fall. Jack made 88 stops, second on the team to Kendricks. And while Hollins is going after the quarterbacks, Jack's ability to cover the pass is second to none.
They also rank Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark as the 10th best DL duo in the nation:
Vanderdoes gets more notoriety for his time spent at fullback, but the defensive lineman is a multi-year starter and one of the toughest players to block because of his relentless motor and top-notch quickness. He teams with Clark, who really shined last year as a second-team All-Pac-12 performer and is equally adept at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer.
Cornerback Fabian Moreau is being eyed as one of the top 20 senior prospects entering the 2016 NFL draft:
This former high school running back went through some ups and downs during his junior season. Head coach Jim Mora, Jr., said he played like a potential first-round pick in 2014 spring practice. Still, he earned second-team All-Pac-12 accolades with eight passes defended. Moreau (6-0, 195) will get his chance to live up to the hype in 2015, and will certainly do so if he combines his smooth athleticism with more interceptions (he's made only one in his career so far).
As far as top rap duo, there is clearly no competition (sorry, but I am writing this as Sean Combs is on his way to central booking).
As far as our Bruins who are preparing for their first year in the NFL, they have experienced their first mini-camps with the pros. Brett Hundley talks about how cool it is to be payed for what he loves to do and lets Packer fans know that they can expect him to come and work hard for their team (believe him). Eric Kendricks is impressing the heck out of everyone in Minnesota and is working to be a starter at middle linebacker next to his Bruin bud Anthony Barr. Being in the middle means Eric has a lot on his plate to learn. From Vikings' Coach Zimmer:
It's hard for linebackers with alignments and different coverages and different things that they have to do because they're involved in so many different things with the run and the pass. So, they've got a lot of different things on their plate. And with a young guy, who has to make calls, who has to make adjustments and checks and the things that we ask of our linebackers, it will take a little while. But I'm more encouraged by the things he's done, is the best way to say it.
And from Eric who is working to be a starter this year:
They're teaching me little clues, little steps here and there that I'm picking up out of college, and I couldn't thank them enough. I'm picking it up slowly, but I'm willing to work. I know as long as I'm willing to work, I'll pick it up faster.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa suffered a knee injury this spring, but has made a speedy recovery and was able to get some work in with the full team during the Giants mandatory mini-camp. According to Coach Caughlin:
Getting Owa back out there was big. He only had a couple, three days here, but he showed us why he is here, so that was important.
Owa wanted to get out there and show what he could do:
I was banged up a little bit and the trainers wanted to be smart, but I knew I would be back towards the end. The fact that I got to put more stuff on film besides the rookie minicamp was good for me.
The Giants, Vikings, and Packers got three gems with these young men. I can't wait to see the future best linbacker duo in the NFL get on the field together.
UCLA Football is also known for turning out acting talent and this weekend Donavan Carter made his professional acting debut in HBO's Ballers:
And in case you are wondering how Donavan got the part:
I got referred from my coaches from UCLA, I played football there. I followed up from there and went for the role and I eneded up getting it and being a main charcter on the show.
Congratulations Donavan! I can't wait to hear your shout out to UCLA when you get your Emmy.
Enjoy the week everyone, and as always ...