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April 9, 2012

Monday's Mail

Editor's note: Every Monday BSR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Bruins in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisBSR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on BSR's Facebook page.

Jeffrey: It's only been a week, and only one day of pads, but give us your opinion on some of these players? Who's stood out? Who's been bad? Why?

You're right, there hasn't been much time at all to evaluate these guys. But even with just about nine hours invested into this team, it's fairly easy to spot the standouts. If you've read any coverage of UCLA this spring so far, you know how good Dalton Hilliard has looked. This is my first week on the beat, and I keep asking my other media buddies, "Why did this move not happen sooner?" His burst, his quickness, his hands - he has the whole package to be the lightning to starter Johnathan Franklin's thunder.

Other guys that have stood out include Xavier Su'a-Filo, who didn't have the best practice on Saturday, but still has the look and the athleticism of a top NFL prospect. There's also Devin Lucien, who catches everything, and is hell-bent on starting this year. There's Joseph Fauria, who was uncoverable before his hamstring injury. And then there's Darius Bell, who like Hilliard, has made the most of his position switch.

On the flip side, Malcolm Jones hasn't showed much at all for being a former Gatorade Player of the Year and a third-year veteran. He just lacks the burst and runs a little too high right now. Then there's the entire slate of quarterbacks. None has looked bad, but none has emerged at all yet. They're all solid, but no one has looked like a high-major, Pac-12 starter yet.


Roksinger: You mentioned that you were going to ask if Randall Carroll had a chance to come back onto the team ... So were you able to and what was the answer?

As you probably already know, he was dismissed from the team in January for academic reasons. We were told by UCLA officials that returning to the Bruin football team has absolutely nothing to do with the wants and wishes of UCLA's coaches or staff. It is entirely a school / admissions issue. Because of his academics, he was actually dismissed from the university, and if he wants to somehow be a member of the team again, we were told, he'd have to get his grades up somewhere else and try to get back into school in the fall. It appears transferring is probably the solution to his problem.

It's too bad for UCLA, because offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has stated he'd like to have about eight receivers rotate in and out of a game. Currently, because of injuries, the Bruins only have about four or five that they can truly count on.


BKBruin: Who is playing nose tackle aside from Brandon Willis? Is Donovan Carter getting first team reps? Is Seali'i Epenesa No. 3 on the depth chart?

Had a few questions about the defensive line this weekend. The starter for the first week has been Willis, and he's looked solid there - especially for a guy who most didn't figure to be atop the depth chart at the end of week one. Epenesa has been logging second-team reps and Carter has been used relatively sparingly the first week. However, that position might be moot this spring, to be honest. Five-star defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy has shown up to a few practices this past week, and he's as big as 90 percent of the linemen currently on UCLA's roster. It looks like he may very well end up the starter at nose by the time Aug. 30 rolls around.

As for the rest of the defensive line, there haven't been too many standouts, although we've started to see Owamagbe Odighizuwa work more and more with the first team. Coaches clearly want to see what he can do this spring. Other first teamers, Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh, have also looked solid in the new 3-4 system.


StevenBM: As an outsider with knowledge (hopefully) of the recruiting game, what are we looking at here for UCLA's basketball team this next year or two?

I think this has been fairly well-documented up here in Los Angeles, but 2013 really, really isn't looking good for the Bruins at the moment - at least in California. The top kids out here, Isaac Hamilton, Aaron Gordon, Dakarai Allen, Roschon Prince, Jordan Bell and many others really haven't expressed much interest in UCLA at all in their relatively young recruiting processes.

However, signing day for 2013 kids is still very far away, which is why this week's signing day is so important to the future of UCLA. Yes, Tony Parker and Shabazz Muhammad could be one-and-dones, as could Kyle Anderson, but with all three on the Bruin squad, plus Jordan Adams, there's no doubt a deep NCAA Tournament run is likely. That should ignite some interest in the 2013 kids, and should help the Bruins recruiting efforts there by the end of next season.

If Muhammad and Parker do end up elsewhere, however, I think UCLA might be in trouble. The Bruins will have a solid team, but it may not be good enough to make a deep run and impress future recruits. But it is UCLA. And top recruits, such as Semi Ojeleye, have put the Bruins high on their list already. It just might take a solid season, both on and off the court, to push them over the edge.


UPSMann20: Do you think Jim Mora is the type of coach that would put his foot on an opponent and try to average 60 points per game if possible (a la Mike Leach) or is he the type that will put on the brakes and just be happy putting up 30?

Interesting question, and I don't think anybody really knows the answer to it just yet. But knowing Mora for the little amount of time we've spent with him this week, it seems like if you get on his bad side, he'll do anything to knock you out. So if we're talking about the opportunity to ring up 60 on USC or Oregon, I think you could see him do that, just to send a message to his players and the nation. But I can't see Mora putting a team like Rice or Houston on blast like that. He's a very classy and respectable coach, and his moves appear to be calculated - never motivated by impulse or anger. I do think if he has the chance to send messages, however, he'll do it.


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