UCLA: Connor Bradford

UCLA must cut seven scholarships

May, 7, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- A handful of scholarship players currently in UCLA's depth chart will be off the team or off scholarship by the time fall camp begins, coach Jim Mora said Monday.

Mora said early during spring practice that there would be a "a fail rate" in camp, meaning that some players would not buy in to the demands put on the team by the new coaching staff and therefore be asked to leave or give up their scholarship. He did not back down from that stance upon the conclusion of spring practice.

"We made this spring as tough as we could," Mora said. "It was kind of a fight or flight type of atmosphere. Who was willing to make the commitment? I still think there are a couple of guys that are half in and half out and we’ll have talks with them."

Mora has little choice but to trim he number of scholarship players on his roster. Currently, there are 69 players on scholarship with 23 scholarship freshman slated to arrive in the fall. That total of 92 puts the Bruins seven over the NCAA scholarship limit of 85.

UCLA would have been nine over at the beginning of spring practice, but offensive lineman Casey Griffiths took a medical retirement and offensive lineman Connor Bradford announced he would graduate early and transfer to another school.

There is a chance incoming freshman linebacker Aaron Porter could get picked in the major league baseball draft and free up another scholarship, but Mora is still going to have to get the numbers down.

"We’ve got some decisions that we’ve got to make and some guys that have got to make some decisions," Mora said. "I don’t think that this is for everybody. It’s hard. It’s tough and people are motivated to play for different reasons. We want to find out and we are finding out what that motivation is."

He didn't mince words when talking about the types of players who would remain in the program.

"We want guys on this football team that have high football character, that are tough, that are accountable, that love hard work, that like it when it’s hard, that have competitive greatness," he said.

OL Jeff Baca carted off practice field

March, 31, 2011
UCLA offensive lineman Jeff Baca rolled his left ankle Thursday during the second day of the Bruins' spring practice and was taken off the field on a golf cart. He was scheduled to have X-rays taken, but the results were not immediately available.

Baca, 6 feet 4, 304 pounds, was a starter two years ago who sat out last year while academically ineligible and is among UCLA's most versatile linemen. He is slated to start at tackle this season.

"It’s part of the game but we’ve got our fingers crossed that it won’t be a long-term deal," coach Rick Neuheisel said.

Any extended absence would be another entry on the long list of woes for an offensive line that seems to have been cursed since Neuheisel's arrival. Last year, three returning starters on the offensive line did not play: Baca, center Kai Maiava, who was injured, and tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, who left for a two-year Mormon mission.

Connor Bradford, who has switched back and forth between offensive line and defensive line during his three years at UCLA, and Stan Hasiak, who sat out last year because of personal and academic issues, are listed behind Baca on the depth chart, but that doesn't necessarily mean they would be the only two competing for that job should Baca be out for an extended period of time.

"We’ll watch how that develops and we’ll make some decisions as to whether or not we need to move anybody," Neuheisel said.



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