For years, summers at UCLA have been filed with multiple NBA stars playing pickup games. If you glance at the track, you may see a world-record holder.
Just Thursday, tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams were seen at the campus tennis center.
“That was cool to me,” new football head coach Jim Mora said of watching the Williams sisters.
Professional football players also stake out the Westwood campus for offseason workouts. This offseason, it’s reached new heights.
“There’s a few more girls hanging around the football offices and the football field than typically,” Mora said.
That’s because the campus has recently succumbed to “TebowMania.”
The Denver Broncos quarterback is working out at UCLA under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and his son Taylor.
“We just work (on) mechanics like every quarterbacks coach in the country works on,” Mazzone said. “He’s taken the initiative and understands some of the things he needs to work on. I’m not the only guy he spends time with, he just happens to be in town.”
Tebow is in Southern California “handling some business” and sought out Mazzone. The two forged a relationship while Tebow was getting ready for the NFL Draft. It was Mazzone who helped him prepare for and eventually ran Tebow’s pro day in March of 2010.
Tebow has worked out at UCLA in the past, but now it’s become an even better fit for him with Mazzone on campus.
Tebow’s throwing motion has long been a hot topic of discussion. Mazzone wouldn’t say if the workouts were geared toward helping Tebow in that aspect of his game, but noted every quarterback has his own way of doing things.
“All guys just want to be efficient. If you go pull out 32 films of 32 NFL quarterbacks you’re going to see 32 different motions. It’s all about the result and that’s what Tim’s about,” Mazzone said. “He’s obviously a guy that wants to get better like they all do. He wants to become good at his craft and his craft’s being an NFL quarterback.”
Last season, Tebow was the talk of the NFL after winning seven of his first eight starts, including a stretch of six consecutive wins. He was named the starter after the Broncos got off to a 1-4 start. Tebow threw 1,729 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for the 2011 AFC West Champion Broncos.
The highlight of his season came during the wild-card round of the playoffs, when he connected with Demaryius Thomas on an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play in overtime to lift Denver past the Steelers.
He’s in Los Angeles working out with Mazzone and hoping to improve on his 46.5 completion percentage from a year ago.
On Thursday, the two were joined by San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Mazzone was Rivers’ offensive coordinator at North Carolina State. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is set to join the group later in the week.
For the “star struck” Mora, the star power on campus has become quite the recruiting tool.
“It speaks for itself when Philip Rivers, who’s a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback, seeks out UCLA’s offensive coordinator (and) quarterbacks coach,” Mora said. “Who wouldn’t want to be coached by the guy that Philip Rivers wants coaching him or Tim Tebow wants coaching him.”