Category: UCLA Bruins

Jim Mora
UCLA athletics

UCLA goes the extra mile in signing 9-year-old brain tumor survivor

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I don’t care how many times I’ve heard it, seen it, or read it, this kind of story will never, ever get old.

Cade Spinello is a nine-year-old UCLA Bruins football fan. He’s also a brave nine-year-old little boy battling a brain tumor that, along with a massive stroke suffered during or after surgery to remove the tumor, has already left him blind.

The Bruins embraced the young fighter last season, with Cade and his family attending a September football practice. At one of those practice sessions, Cade scored a touchdown; the Bruins responded by mobbing him and carrying him off the field on their shoulders.

It just puts things into perspective,” linebacker Deon Hollins said late in the first month of the 2015 season. “That’s what it’s all about. The fact that we can make that kind of impact, you know, just to anyone, is just really amazing.”

Fastforward a few months, and with National Signing Day on the horizon, the UCLA football program has gone the extra mile for the young man who’s fught such a brave fight.

God bless you, Cade. And kudos, UCLA, for what you’ve done and what you continue to do for this brave little boy.

And who knows, maybe one day Cade, like a longtime fan of the Bruins’ crosstown rival, will end up long-snapping for the team for which he grew up rooting.

Checking in on recruiting rankings with one week until Signing Day

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers (C) sings with his team after they defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 56-27 during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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National Signing Day is one week from today. If you haven’t already taken off work, purchased your food items, laundered your lucky shirt, socks and underwear and hung your decorations, consider this your fair warning.

(Wait, everyone hangs decorations for National Signing Day, right?)

With but seven days between now and the biggest day on the college football calendar until Opening Day, here’s how the top 25 classes stack up according to Rivals.

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Michigan
5. Notre Dame
6. Florida State
7. Florida
8. Clemson
9. Michigan State
10. Baylor
11. UCLA
12. Alabama
13. Texas A&M
14. Auburn
15. TCU
16. North Carolina
17. Georgia
18. Tennessee
19. Kentucky
20. Stanford
21. Oregon
22. California
23. Duke
24. Penn State
25. Houston

A couple teams to watch over the next week are teams that were top-5 mainstays a decade ago — No. 28 USC, No. 30 Oklahoma, No. 31 Miami and No. 50 Texas.

Before any Trojans, Sooners, ‘Canes or ‘Horns fans hit the panic button, consider that each team is still carrying a light number of commitments — USC and Texas with 13, Miami with 14 and Oklahoma with 16. Ten of the top 11 teams claim at least 20, and only Georgia has fewer than 16 among ranked teams.

SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29:  Former Tennesse quarterback Peyton Manning and current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is honored alongside his former college coach Phillip Fulmer before the start of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 29, 2005 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Cam Newton may be hurtling toward history, but the former Auburn quarterback will not be the lone player representing the SEC in next month’s Super Bowl.  In fact, he’s far, far from it.

As you may have heard, Newton’s Carolina Panthers are set to square off with Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the 50th Super Bowl Feb. 3.  Manning and Newton are two of and FBS-best 30 former SEC players who are on the two teams’ rosters, which includes those on the 53-man, reserved/injured list, practice squad, reserved/suspended by commissioner and reserve/future squad.

The Pac-12 is next with 23, followed by the Big Ten (21) and ACC (17).  The final Power Five conference, the Big 12, has 10, three less than the Mountain West’s 13.  The AAC, with eight, is the only Group of Five league to come close to double digits.  The MAC, meanwhile, is the only conference to be shutout, while all of the other divisions in the NCAA combined for 18 players.

Nearly every SEC team is represented in this year’s big game, the lone exception being Vanderbilt.  Of the dozen schools in the Pac-12, only Arizona and Washington State are missing.  Both the ACC and Big Ten have 11 of their 14 teams in the game, the lone exceptions being Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech for the former and Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers for the latter.

One of those B1G schools that’s in, Nebraska, has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for 23 straight years, the longest active streak for any FBS program.

Ohio State easily outdistances individual schools with seven, three more than the four each for Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Tennessee.  Alabama, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Utah.

A total of 20 schools have two players each, including Coastal Carolina, the only non-FBS program in the group.  The other 19 includes Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, San Diego State, South Carolina, Stanford, Troy, Tulane, Washington and Wisconsin.

Jake Raulerson moves on from Texas by transferring to UCLA

Jake Raulerson
Texas athletics
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In 2014, Jake Raulerson played for Texas in their game against UCLA.  Two years later, Raulerson has joined that day’s enemy.

In concluding a coast-to-coast tour  that included a handful of FBS programs, Raulerson announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that he will continue his playing career with the Bruins.  The offensive lineman announced in early December that he would be transferring from the Longhorns, and his decision on a new school came following a visit to the Bruins over the weekend.

As Raulerson will land in Westwood as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play in 2016.  That will be the first of two remaining years of eligibility.

In addition to UCLA, Raulerson had also considered Michigan, Oregon and Stanford.

Raulerson started five games in 2014 (four at center, one at guard), then played in eight games this past season.  Exiting the 2015 regular season, Patterson was viewed as the favorite to win the starting center job in 2016.

2016 early NFL draft entries fall just shy of ’14 record

2014 NFL Draft
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So close, yet so far.  Well, technically speaking it is.

With the deadline for early entry into the NFL draft in the rearview, the NFL announced Friday that 96 players “have been granted special eligibility for the 2016 NFL Draft” and will be eligible to be selected during the April 28-30 event in Chicago. While that’s significantly more than 74 draft-eligible sophomores and juniors who declared last year, it falls two shy of the record 98 who declared early for the 2014 draft.

For some perspective, the number of players combined who declared early for the 2007 (40) and 2008 (53) falls short of the number for this year alone.

Another 11 players with eligibility remaining “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements” and are thus eligible for the draft as well. Those 11 are…

2016 NFL Draft I

Of the 96 deemed by the NFL as having special draft eligibility granted, 48 played defense and 46 were from the offensive side of the ball. There were also two kickers in this category — Southern Oregon’s Aldrick Ross and British Columbia’s Quinn van Gylswyk.

A total of 18 defensive ends and tackles are included, while the secondary, combining both cornerbacks and safeties, has 17. On the offensive side, 16 running backs are in the group, joined by 12 offensive linemen and 10 running backs. Just four draft-eligible quarterbacks cannonballed into the pool: Cal’s Jared Goff, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.

The SEC, naturally, leads all conferences in NFL-designated special draft eligibility — The Shield differentiates this year between them and those who have eligibility remaining but earned degrees — with 25 players leaving early.  12 of the 14 teams in that conference have at least one player in the group, the lone exceptions being Kentucky and Missouri. Next up is the 15 of the Big Ten and Pac-12; the only other conference in double digits is the ACC (11).  The lone remaining Power Five conference, the Big 12, just missed with nine.

The most of any Group of Five league is the Mountain West’s four.  Two conferences, Conference USA and the Sun Belt, had no players granted special eligibility.

Individually, Ohio State saw seven players deemed to have met the NFL’s criteria for special eligibility, followed by UCLA with six and Clemson with five.  Below are the other individual schools with more than one player in this category:

4 — Notre Dame
3 — Arkansas, Baylor, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
2 — Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Indiana, LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia

And, below this, are all of the 96 players with special eligibility for the NFL draft:

Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State
Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Dariusz Bladek, OG, Bethune-Cookman
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan
Beniquez Brown, LB, Mississippi State
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Trenton Coles, DB, Duquesne
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State
Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
Kamalei Correa, DL, Boise State
Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
Elijah Daniel, DT, Murray State
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
T.J. Green, S, Clemson
David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Jerald Hawkins, OL, LSU
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Quinton Jefferson, DL, Maryland
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Cayleb Jones, WR, Arizona
Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Jayron Kearse, DB, Clemson
Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas
Darius Latham, DL, Indiana
Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Roger Lewis, WR, Bowling Green
Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Alex McCalister, DE, Florida
Brett McMakin, LB, Northern Iowa
Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Maryland
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Emmanuel Ogbah, DL, Oklahoma State
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Alex Redmond, OL, UCLA
Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
Aldrick Rosas, K, Southern Oregon
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State
Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Ron Thompson, DE, Syracuse
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Quinn van Gylswyk, K, British Columbia
Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State
Cleveland Wallace III, CB, San Jose State
Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington
Stephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt
De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State
Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia
Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona
Avery Young, OL, Auburn