UCLA offense, defense set to battle for Myles Jack
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Myles Jack has an affectionate nickname for Brett Hundley: Mr. Heisman. And Hundley has an affectionate nickname for Jack: Mr. Heisman.
The UCLA quarterback is front and center when it comes to the early Heisman Trophy conversations, but Jack, the sophomore two-way player and one of the most dynamic and exciting players in the country, has heard his name mentioned once or twice as well.
There’s only one problem: The Bruins insist that Jack is not, in fact, a two-way player. He’s just probably the only linebacker to ever score four touchdowns in a game.
That doesn’t mean he won’t see reps in the backfield. The Bruins found a lot of success with the jumbo package last season. Big defensive players will still get thrown in an offensive package or two, but just like Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t going to be a regular target for Hundley, Jack is not going to be a regular back.
"Myles Jack will make some appearances (on offense) here and there," Hundley said. "Myles will always be that one back we’ll put in for a change of pace, just to light things up when we need to."
Jack has an ability to light up an opposing ball carrier as well. So good at both positions, the All-American was named Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year – a first in conference history.
Jack the back or Jack the backer – offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will likely continue to fight over him as the season starts. According to everyone in attendance at Thursday’s media day at Paramount Studios, Jack is primed for an even bigger season than last.
"As soon as he finished last season he was working towards this year," said linebacker Eric Kendricks. "He had a lot of success last year but he didn’t let it go to his head. He’s one of the hardest workers I know. He gained a lot of weight, got a lot stronger and looks a lot bigger. He’s just going to be a bigger, faster Myles Jack.
"Say what you want, but a bigger, faster Myles Jack is pretty scary."
Back to San Berdoo
Jim Mora’s pro-style training camp in San Bernardino, Calif. has become somewhat infamous. It’s hard to argue with the results – nine- and 10-win seasons – but the scorching temperatures and throw-back summer camp-like facilities still haven’t quite won over the players.
"I would describe it as a love-hate relationship," Hundley said.
While the good news is that the Bruins don’t have to do another additional three-day Navy Seal training camp this year, the San Bernardino camp is still on the calendar. Temperatures are predicted to be around triple digits through all of August, which is exactly what Mora wants.
"As long as we’re in triple digits, I’ll be happy," he said. "The San Bernardino heat is just, I guess it’s a plus. The reason we go there is not because of the heat, but because it gives us a chance to get into an environment where there are fewer distractions, where we’re isolated and we can focus on each other and get to know each other better. Build those bonds that you need to help you through the season.
"I like the weather. I like it hot, I think it’s good for us."
Mora checks Instagram about every 10 minutes. He’s not uploading photos of his kids or filtering out a selfie, he’s checking for his players’ selfies.
"Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, that’s how our youth communicate now," he said. "I always tell our players I’m not looking over you, when I look at your Twitter and your Instagram and I check you on Facebook, I’m not looking over you – I’m looking out for you."
As a father to four teenagers, he takes a similarly paternal approach with his players. It’s in the best interest of them individually and in the best interest of the program as well.
"I’m going to check the kids whose parents have sent them to me," Mora said. "The players don’t go, ‘Man, coach is going to look.’ They know if they post something I think is inappropriate, I’m going to call them and say, ‘We need to think about that. Get it down.’"
Early Injury Update
Freshman defensive back Johnny Johnson has yet to even see a single snap of collegiate action and it doesn’t look like he’s going to anytime soon. After a second shoulder surgery he is once again out for the season. Incoming freshman receiver Austin Roberts, who chose UCLA over Alabama and Ohio State, is also out after tearing an ACL during a 7-on-7 camp.
An injury report Mora received a few days ago showed a clean bill of health for the rest of the incoming freshmen.
"It looks like we’re on track with all the guys," he said. "If they’re going to be able to go or not, it being lose like they’ll get assignment."