UCLA: Max Wittek

Video: Pac-12 South top returning players

February, 28, 2014

Toni Collins and ESPN Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller discuss some of the top spring storylines and returning players in the Pac-12 South Division.

Pac-12's best of 2013

January, 14, 2014
Today we put a bow on the 2013 season (almost -- a few more review posts are coming up, and then probably a few more after that). But today across the blogosphere, we’re categorizing some of the top moments and individuals from the Pac-12 season. These are set in stone and in no way open to argument or interpretation.

Best coach: Arizona State's Todd Graham was voted as the league’s coach of the year by his peers. And it’s hard to argue with that, given the fact that the Sun Devils had the best league record and won their division. But you can’t discount the job of the L.A. coaches (interim or otherwise). Ed Orgeron did a phenomenal job in relief at USC before Steve Sarkisian was hired, and Jim Mora shepherded his team through a difficult time early.

Best player, offense: Ka’Deem Carey was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the year. And the Pac-12 blog agrees. Certainly, cases can be made for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was on the Heisman Trophy track before being derailed by a knee injury. And there is the debate between Carey and Washington running back Bishop Sankey, which will rage until the end of days.

Best player, defense: The coaches went with Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. And there’s nothing wrong with that selection. But cases certainly can be made for outside linebackers Trent Murphy (Stanford) and Anthony Barr (UCLA).

Best moment: Lots of them. Shocking upsets (see below) and stellar individual performances dusted the landscape of the 2013 Pac-12 season. But in terms of moments that were seared into our memories, it’s tough not to think about UCLA’s come-from-behind win at Nebraska way back on Sept. 14, following the death of Nick Pasquale. Specifically, Anthony Jefferson recovering a red zone fumble and then sprinting off the field to give the ball to Mora, followed by a big hug. It was as authentic and genuine a moment as you’ll find in sports.

[+] EnlargeKodi Whitfield
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesStanford's Kodi Whitfield had a highlight touchdown grab against UCLA.
Biggest upset: Take your pick between Utah topping Stanford or Arizona topping Oregon. Both were road losses for the favorites and both shook up the national and league landscape. Granted, Utah’s win over Stanford came earlier in the season, and early-season losses are easier to rebound from. Oregon’s loss to Arizona came at the end and cost the Ducks all kinds of postseason possibilities.

Best workhorse performance: It’s a tie between Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney and Carey -- both of whom put in the work in their teams’ victories over Oregon. Carey rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries; Gaffney carried 45 times for 157 yards and a touchdown.

Best play: One of the most subjective categories, for sure, but Kodi Whitfield’s one-handed touchdown catch against UCLA was nothing short of spectacular. He elevated between two Bruins defenders and backhanded the ball out of the air for a 30-yard touchdown. Something about UCLA-Stanford brings out the one-handed catches. Recall in 2011, Andrew Luck hauled in a one-handed catch against the Bruins, and a few plays later, Coby Fleener snagged a one-handed dart from Luck for a touchdown.

Best performance, offense: Again, wildly subjective. Take your pick from Ty Montgomery’s five-touchdown day against Cal, Marion Grice’s four touchdowns against USC or Wisconsin, or Myles Jack’s four touchdowns against Washington. Brandin Cooks had a pretty nice day against Cal with his 232 receiving yards. There were games with seven touchdown tosses from Mariota and Taylor Kelly. Connor Halliday’s losing effort against Colorado State was spectacular. In terms of impact, it’s hard not to go back to Carey’s effort against Oregon.

Best performance, defense: As in every other category here, plenty to go around. But think way back to Washington State’s win over USC. Damante Horton had a 70-yard interception return that tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. Then, after Andrew Furney’s 41-yard field goal put the Cougars ahead 10-7 with 3:15 left in the game, Horton picked off Max Wittek, which allowed WSU to run out the clock.

Spring Practice - Day Seven

April, 11, 2010
The UCLA football team played its first full-contact scrimmage of the spring before a large gathering of high school prospects on Sunday.

The attendees at Spaulding Field included "The Great One," who accompanied his young one -- quarterback Trevor Gretzky (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian). Quarterback Max Wittek (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), who has offers from both UCLA and USC, and athlete DeAnthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw), one of the nation's most sought-after recruits, were also in attendance.

As for the players already donning UCLA jerseys, coach Rick Neuheisel liked what he saw.

"Schematically we want to see where we are but more importantly, I want to see individuals rise to the occasion so we can create the depth necessary to be successful," Neuheisel said.

There were plenty of moments to pick from:
  • Tight end Joseph Fauria continued to make an impression, catching touchdowns from quarterback Kevin Prince during both the seven-on-seven drill and the scrimmage. The two scores occurred in the back of the end zone, where he has an advantage over smaller defensive backs. "Joe Fauria looks to be a weapon for us," Neuheisel said. After catching the first touchdown, Fauria ran off in excitement -- a sequence Neuheisel termed the "squirrel dance." The 6-foot-8 tight end added a 10-yard score later, keeping his feet in bounds on a lob from Prince. "I'm having a great time here," Fauria said. "I love it here, man. It's a great group of guys and I love that I'm playing football again."
  • Prince looked sharp, completing eight of his nine pass attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed the ball five times for 13 yards. Backup quarterback Richard Brehaut was 3 for 11 and third-string Nick Crissman was 3 for 6.
  • Tailback Johnathan Franklin ran for 44 yards on nine carries. He broke the best run on a sweep to the left and a cut back inside. The competition between Franklin and Derrick Coleman for the starting running back spot has been close the last week or so.
  • All-American kicker Kai Forbath nailed both his field goals, from 26 and 42 yards out.



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