UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr is expected to remain at UCLA and not declare for the NFL draft.
Barr, a junior, emerged as one of the top linebackers in the nation this season after moving from receiver in the spring. He has 13.5 sacks, the most in the nation, and 20.5 tackles for a loss, the fourth-most nationally.
Barr said, “Nothing is set in stone.” But he said coming back is “where my heart is.” The last piece to his decision will come after receiving an NFL draft evaluation.
“I have an idea what I want to do, but that’s going to make things much more clear,” Barr said.
Barr, who is 6 feet 4 and 235 pounds, was a receiver his first two seasons at UCLA. He asked to move to linebacker last winter and adapted quickly. Barr was named second-team All-America by the Associated Press.
He sees benefits to returning to play one more season for Coach Jim Mora.
“I can get another year under this coaching staff and in this system,” he said. “Coach has done a good job in getting me this far, and I thing another year would help with that development.”
The evaluation will be last factor for Barr to weigh,.
“You don’t jump until you know,” Barr said. “I don’t want to say one thing and then do another.”
While Barr moved from receiver, freshman linebacker Nate Iese may go in the other direction.
Iese was so effective mimicking Stanford tight end Zach Ertz on the scout team for two weeks that coaches want to look at him as a Y-back in the spring.
Joseph Fauria, the Bruins’ top Y-back, is a senior. Iese, who is 6-4, 215, could ease that loss.
“I guess I gave a pretty good look at tight end,” said Iese, who sat out this season as a redshirt. “They thought they could use me a little more on offense. I have been going back and forth, linebacker and Y-back.”
Iese played receiver at Elk Grove Sheldon High. He had 42 receptions for 522 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
“UCLA coaches asked me what position I preferred,” Iese said. “I just want to get on the field. So wherever the team needs me.”
UCLA conducted a light workout Saturday in preparation for playing Baylor in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Diego.
The Bruins went through drills and held a scrimmage with reserves during a practice open to the public. But they did no game planning.
Guard Alberto Cid had the highlight of the day . . . as a receiver.
Cid lined up during passing drills and was covered by nose tackle Donovan Carter. Cid ran an out pattern to the corner of the end zone and made a slick catch.
Offensive players then mobbed Cid.
The Bruins begin preparation for Baylor in earnest Monday.
UCLA nearly went to the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. That would have meant more travel expenses for the school . . . and more stress for Bruins center Jake Brendel.
Brendel played at Plano East High, just north of Dallas. He said he would have needed “about 26 tickets” for family and friends had the Bruins gone to San Antonio. He said he needs only four tickets for the Holiday Bowl.
Price of success
Baylor (7-5) is in a bowl game for the third consecutive season, a first in school history. The Bears are playing in a bowl game outside Texas for the first time since going to Tucson for the 1991 Copper Bowl.
So for the second consecutive season, Coach Art Briles got a little boost. He received a long-term contract extension after the Bears went 10-3 last year. He received another last week, the Waco Tribune Herald reported.