Football Program News & Notes

It was put a bit on the back burner in the run-up to National Signing Day, but now Jim Mora will focus on filling the open spot on his coaching staff, even after the coach had surgery this morning...

Today is a good example of Jim Mora's commitment to recruiting.

The word around the football program is that Mora had surgery early this morning for a small, benign tumor in his side. Full-on surgery -- completely knocked out, tubes everywhere.

A few people have texted me about it, astounded that, a matter of a couple of hours later, he's up and around, and preparing to host Jaason Lewis, the 2015 receiver prospect from Virginia.

It's well-accepted in the UCLA football program that Jeff Ulbrich, the current linebackers coach, will take over the Defensive Coordinator responsibilities.

The DC job opened up when Lou Spanos left UCLA to be the linebackers coach with the Tennessee Titans January 18th.

Since that time not much has surfaced about potential candidates to fill the open spot. Head Coach Jim Mora, of course, was pre-occupied in the final weeks of the recruiting cycle leading up to National Signing Day.

Scott White
It was pretty clear, though, during the big push in recruiting in the last few weeks that Ulbrich would be promoted to defensive coordinator since a number of UCLA's recruits revealed it.

With that one staff spot open, Mora could go in a few different directions. Ulbrich will almost certainly continue to coach linebackers but might not have the time to do it fully, so a linebackers coach could be an option. There is a trend in college football to have a dedicated special teams coach, and Mora could go that route. UCLA's special teams were coached by Ulbrich, but in practice it was more of a staff-wide effort, with different coaches fulfilling different roles in coaching special teams. It worked well, with UCLA having very good special teams in 2013. Because of that, Mora might decide against a special teams coach. There is also the possibility of hiring a tight end/Y coach.

Since there isn't clear position coach opening, it does give Mora flexibility and enable him to perhaps emphasize recruiting ability in the hire. Mora will almost certainly conduct a number of in-person interviews before making a move.

Word has leaked out that a candidate for the open position is UCLA assistant linebackers coach Scott White. White is the program favorite, earning endorsements from among the UCLA coaches and current players. He's been instrumental in assisting Ulbrich in linebacker recruiting. White came to UCLA as graduate assistant under Rick Neuheisel, following a standout career as a linebacker at Washington in the mid-2000s.

Malik Henry
Just two days after signing day for the 2014 recruiting class, UCLA hasn't stopped recruiting.

I'm hearing that the father of Malik Henry, the 6-2, 185-pound sophomore quarterback from Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake, had a conversation yesterday with Jim Mora.

The word is that UCLA will more than likely offer Henry fairly soon.

It's looking like Henry, at this point, could be the top 2016 quarterback prospect on UCLA's board.

UCLA has also offered 2015 offensive lineman Darrin Paulo; 2016 St. John Bosco running Sean McGrew and 2017 Upland athlete Nathan Tilford.

On Wednesday, National Signing Day, the UCLA coaches had a meeting about 2015, 2016 and 2017 prospects, after the staff watched a great deal of tape on recruits Monday and Tuesday. It's the reason you're seeing UCLA offer younger prospects now, and it will almost certainly continue.

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