Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The first inevitable sign that a new regime has taken over at UCLA has arrived: roster turnover.
The Bruins announced Monday that three players have departed the program: redshirt sophomore defensive end Wesley Flowers, freshman tight end Raymond Nelson, and junior defensive back Randall Carroll.
“At UCLA, we have a high set of standards that we expect every student-athlete to adhere to. Unfortunately, these three gentlemen choose not to do so,” new Bruin head coach Jim L. Mora said.
Flowers and Nelson were dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules, while Carroll "failed to meet UCLA’s academic requirements" and is no longer enrolled at the school.
Where their on-field impact is concerned, Carroll might be the biggest loss; the one-time star recruit (who Rick Neuheisel once lured away from USC to acclaim) still only collected two tackles this season, one fewer than the ostensible corner earned in receptions as a receiver. Flowers struggled to find the field after several injuries, and though Nelson saw action in eight games as a true freshman, he did not record a reception.
The bigger takeaway is that Mora -- like most coaches tasked with overhauling a stagnant program -- is wasting no time making over the Bruins in his preferred image. Mora has already declared an end to the Bruins' "over the wall" tradition and hired a former NFL player of his, Seattle Seahawks special teams coach Jeff Ulbrich, as the Bruins' new linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. The Bruins only narrowly missed on hiring longtime San Diego Chargers assistant John Pagano as their new defensive coordinator; he was promoted to the same position with the Chargers instead.
Mora's choice at offensive coordinator was more conservative (grabbing Noel Mazzone after his dismissal at Arizona State), but nonetheless, Mora has clearly begun putting his stamp on the program. But dismissing a handful of rule-breaking players and hiring position coaches are one thing--salvaging what had looked like another lackluster recruiting class will speak even more loudly, and it looks like Mora's well on his way to accomplishing that, as well.
It's still early to say anything's truly changed for the better in Westwood -- if Eye on CFB had existed when Neuheisel was hired, you might have been reading this same post four years ago -- but after developments like the dismissals and NFL-centric hiring approach, it's safe to say things have at least changed.
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