Tidbits on UCLA's Football Program

We've been storing up all of these little bits of news for the end of the season, so here they are. Everything from inside info on the relationship between Neuheisel and Chow and scout team standouts to recruiting tidbits...

With the end of the regular-season, we thought it was time to reveal some info, odds and ends on the football program, from depth chart stuff to recruiting tidbits.

As it was reported yesterday, quarterback Kevin Prince had an MRI and it was determined he has a mild shoulder separation. It's uncertain how long he could be out and whether it would affect his chances of playing in a potential bowl game.

UCLA's bowl chances, in fact, are very uncertain, since the Bruins' 6-6 record leaves it behind in priority every 7-5 team in the nation. UCLA did move up the priority list, though, when the players of Notre Dame, which is also 6-6, voted to not go to a bowl game this season.

There are a few pundits that have asserted UCLA now becomes the most desirable 6-6 team and probably has a good chance to go bowling.

There have been some mentions that UCLA could be in line for the GMAC Bowl, which pits the MAC (Mid-American Conference) #1 against the best available 6-6 team. That would mean UCLA would face Central Michigan. The game is played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., on January 6, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. PST. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

If UCLA does land the GMAC Bowl, or any other for that matter, it gives the graduating seniors something fun to finish off their senior season, and most importantly gives the team a few more weeks worth of highly valuable practice.

Last night the football banquet award winners were announced: Banquet Award Winners As you might infer from those winners, the coaches believe some scout team players could have some considerable potential.

On offense, it's believed Colorado transfer Josh Smith will immediately have an impact at wide receiver. The coaches are extremely high on freshman offensive lineman Nik Abele, and think he'll compete for the right starting tackle spot next season as a redshirt freshman.

It's thought that receiver Jerry Johnson is talented by still needs to apply himself.

The coaches like what they see from freshman OL Greg Capella, but he has to continue to lose weight.

The situation is now on very firm footing with Stan Hasiak, the freshman offensive lineman. Expect to see Hasiak try for a redshirt for this season.

The word is that starting freshman left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, as of now, is leaning toward putting off his Mormon mission.

On defense, freshman defensive end Keenan Graham is the best young pass rusher on the team, and he would have played this season if the jaw fracture hadn't set him back. They've been pleased with the play and potential of linebacker Isaiah Bowens. It's believed that freshman cornerback Marlon Pollard has a great deal of of talent but is very thin and needs to get quite a bit stronger. Freshman Stan McKay has great potential at strong safety, but needs to mature and develop a good work ethic.

The defensive line situation is very uncertain for next season. It's believed very strongly that Brian Price will leave the program for the NFL this spring. That, and the departure of seniors Jerzy Siewierski and Jess Ward, leaves a big vacancy at defensive tackle. The coaches are confident that David Carter, who had a good junior year in a back-up role, can step up and be a starter. They were hoping that Ohio State transfer Willie Mobley would compete for the other starting spot, but his academics were such a mess he had to enroll in a JC, and he recently verbally committed to Arizona. There is actually some reasonable hope that converted offensive lineman Sean Sheller will be able to contribute. As we've reported before, there is some consideration that someone will move from another position. Someone from the defensive ends or linebackers, or both, will likely be converted to a defensive tackle.

The uncertainty and lack of depth is the reason UCLA is taking 8 defensive line recruits in the 2010 class. That means another four in addition to the four that are already committed.

Of course, one of the biggest targets is George Uko, the DT from Chino (Calif.) Don Lugo. It was believed if Uko took his official visit to USC last weekend and didn't verbally commit it would probably go down to the wire with UCLA having a good chance. He, in fact, didn't commit to USC last weekend.

Another big target for UCLA is defensive tackle Sealii Epanesa, the 6-2, 300-pounder from Honolulu (Haw.) Iolani. UCLA has shown him a great amount of attention, and the word is that UCLA leads for Epanesa.

In terms of more defensive tackles, sources close to the recruitment of Richard Ash from Pahokee (Fla.) High tend to believe the Bruins have a good shot. It's believed that it will be tough to turn Brandon Willis from Duncan (S.C.) Burns away from his commitment to Tennessee.

There is Ricky Heimuli, the DT from Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton, who UCLA's Norm Chow and Todd Howard visited Sunday, the first day of the contact period (UCLA coaches were in many places Sunday visiting recruits).

There is also Kirifi Taula from Anaheim Servite.

In regard to the defensive ends, don't count out UCLA for Portland (Ore.) Douglas's defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He just visited Florida and has a visit to USC upcoming, but the word is that UCLA did very well with him on his official visit.

In fact, it was felt that he and his family bonded very well with Uko, UCLA-committed linebacker Aramide Olaniyan, and their families.

The word is that UCLA is still doing very well with Crenshaw linebacker prospect Hayes Pullard. UCLA and Fontana Kaiser linebacker Josh Shirley have cooled.

The academics of Taniela Maka, the linebacker from Long Beach Jordan who was part of the 2009 class, are still uncertain. It's still completely unknown if UCLA would be able to get him into school.

With the de-commitment of Tony Jefferson, UCLA could very well stand pat at safety since it brought in quite a few in the last couple of years and has a commitment in 2010 from Earnest Thomas. But it's also thought that UCLA will pursue Erick Dargan from Pittsburg (Calif.) High. There are some, too, that think UCLA still has a decent chance with Dietrich Riley from La Canada St. Francis.

UCLA is feeling fairly confident about the talent it has at cornerback, but are worried a bit by its youth. It's the reason the Bruins are looking into JC cornerbacks.

UCLA is also looking around for JC fullbacks, and for any exceptional JC offensive linemen.

It's not that the coaches don't covet Jayson Allmond, the freshman fullback who redshirted this season; they do. It's just that he'd be a redshirt freshman next season and it wouldn't hurt to have another fullback, one who's older and developed physically, like a JC player. Allmond, in fact, is so highly considered by UCLA that I've heard the offensive and defensive coaches are fighting over him a bit.

Palmdale Highland tight end prospect has academic issues that will almost certainly keep UCLA from continuing to recruit him.

Paul Richardson, the wide receiver from Gardena Seerra, and his cousin, Shaquille Richardson, the cornerback from Los Alamitos, are expected to ultimately be Bruins. It was though that Shaq Richardson could verbally commit to UCLA soon.

Anthony Barr, the RB/athlete from Los Angeles Loyola, is leaning heavily to UCLA -- at least before the firing of Notre Dame's Charlie Weiss.

While UCLA might only currently have 17 or 18 scholarships available for the 2010 class, it's expected that more scholarships will open up, and that UCLA could have 22 to 25 to give for 2010.

There is still a "silent" commitment out there.

There have been reports that quarterback commit Brett Nottingham, after having a terrific senior season at Danville Monte Vista, is going to de-commit and make a pledge to Stanford. But many sources have indicated that Nottingham is still very committed to UCLA and is probably the #1 recruiter among UCLA's 2010 commitments.

Perhaps the aspect of the coaching staff that is the subject of the most rumors is the relationship between Neuheisel and Chow. There have been reports of tension, and it's well-accepted there has been some. The two have had disagreements about the playcalling this season. But sources close to the situation think that the "tension" is way overblown, that Chow is pretty happy at UCLA, and he and Neuheisel have a solid respect for each other. Sources close to Chow indicate that he feels very optimistic about the potential of UCLA's offense, and that he particularly likes what he sees from UCLA's young quarterbacks. It's believed that Chow will stay at UCLA for at least two more years to help complete the mission of turning around UCLA's program.


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