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Battle of the Editors: Tyler Drohan vs Andrew Erickson

By Tyler Drohan and Andrew Erickson

May 7, 2013 2:37 a.m.

Every so often, there is just an overwhelming number of hot topics enveloping the UCLA sports scene. The end of the quarter represents a crossroads of sorts for fall and winter sports, so we’re opening the floor to basketball, football, soccer and water polo in this edition of the weekly showdown between DB Sports senior staff.

Will former UCLA punter Chris Kluwe being cut by the Minnesota Vikings have an impact on athletes who are outspoken with their personal views?

Tyler Drohan: I don’t believe Kluwe’s release will prevent athletes from being outspoken about their personal views. As many know, he was particularly vocal in his support of same-sex marriage as was former UCLA special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens. However, I think much more is being made of these two cuts than is necessary. Special teams players in their 30s are cut often. It’s the way of life in pro sports, and I find it hard to believe the teams just up and decided they were done with these guys because of their personal beliefs.

Andrew Erickson: While Kluwe’s release likely had something to do with his activism, the decision wasn’t made without football reasoning. Speaking in terms of net punting averages, Kluwe was the 17th-best punter in the NFL last year, and as with any job, when performance is lacking, replacements are sought. The Vikings found that replacement in another former UCLA punter, Jeff Locke, who impressed in his first mini-camp drills and justified Kluwe’s release. If this sends a message to athletes, it’s that being outspoken is justifiable as long as the stats are there.

The last time UCLA didn’t win a national title during a school year was in 1994. Will the Bruins’ 19-season string be snapped this year?

Tyler Drohan: Bruins fans are nervous, as they should be. It’s very late in the season without a winner. But there are a few teams with legitimate chances to win an NCAA title. It all starts with the only UCLA team currently ranked No. 1 in the country – men’s tennis. The team has just one blemish on its record and earned the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, thanks to a pair of victories late in the year against four-time defending champion USC. I think they’ll wrestle the title away from their crosstown rivals and keep the streak alive. If they don’t, a darkhorse team with a shot is women’s tennis, which heads into the tournament as the No. 7 seed.

Andrew Erickson: While men’s tennis appears poised to earn title No. 109 for UCLA, I think the Bruin men’s golf team is finally ready for greatness. A common denominator with a number of title-winning teams is motivation, and the Bruins have plenty. No. 1 golfer Patrick Cantlay bolted for the season to try to make the PGA Tour, and on the course, UCLA has consistently played in the shadow of conference rival and top-ranked Cal. While the Bruins lost to the Golden Bears by nine strokes in the four-round Pac-12 Championship, look for this team to play with a chip on its shoulder – and in its chips – come NCAAs.

Of the Bruins’ undrafted free agents, who is most likely to make an NFL roster?

Tyler Drohan: I think tight end “Big Joe” Joseph Fauria has the best shot of any of the Bruins’ undrafted guys to make a roster. He immediately signed with the Detroit Lions following the draft, and surprised many by going undrafted in the first place. He’s a big body – 6-foot-7-inches – and a major red zone target who has an NFL pedigree. Though there are concerns with his speed, route running and toughness, Fauria will not only make the roster, but also challenge for playing time behind Lions’ starter Brandon Pettigrew.

Andrew Erickson: Oh, snap, I think this is an easy one. UCLA coach Jim Mora said a couple weeks ago that a number of NFL coaches had told him former UCLA long snapper Kevin McDermott was the best at his position in the whole draft class. Now a San Francisco 49er, McDermott will have to fight to enter one of the scarcest job markets in all of professional sports, but he certainly has a window of opportunity to earn a job. McDermott will split reps 50-50 with current long snapper Brian Jennings during the 49ers’ offseason, with the best long snapper taking the job.

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