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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA

Coach Mora discusses linebacker Myles Jack’s declaration for NFL draft

Junior linebacker Myles Jack withdrew from UCLA to purse a professional football career.(Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By camayak

Oct. 7, 2015 9:24 a.m.

Jim Mora clasped his hands together and motioned them forward, as if to say, “all in.”

The movement wasn’t in reference to anything Mora himself was doing. Instead, it was in reference to Myles Jack’s decision to withdraw from UCLA midseason and declare for the NFL draft, seemingly out of nowhere.

“He’s taking his chips and he’s shoving them in the middle and we hope that he draws a good hand, at least I do,” Mora said. “This is brand new to me. I’ve never seen it or been involved with it.”

It’s new to everyone.

The timing of Jack’s decision was unprecedented: No college football player had ever declared for the NFL draft before his junior season was completely over. Granted, Jack’s season was effectively over, even though his team’s season wasn’t. The linebacker suffered a season-ending meniscus injury, one that will take four to six months to heal.

That injury is what caused Mora to question Jack’s decision to declare.

It’s not that Mora thinks Jack won’t recover from the injury – he said Jack is a “fast healer” – but he thinks the injury prevented Jack from adding some much-needed film clips to his NFL draft resume.

“If (Jack) played all year I was thinking that he wouldn’t (come back),” Mora said. “But when you only play in two games or three – and that’s all the tape they have on you (in) your junior year – you know, I’ve been in 25 draft rooms and I’ve never seen a guy taken off of that, ever.”

Mora said he discussed this draft history with Jack this past Sunday, but it didn’t matter. Jack and his family had already made their decision.

“NFL teams are very, very conservative, and if there’s any question whatsoever, they’ll pass on you in a heartbeat,” Mora said. “I explained that to him but I feel like they’d already made their decision.”

Now, Mora said he hopes Jack gets a fair evaluation from NFL scouts. He endorsed Jack as a “tremendous athlete” and “tremendous football player,” but wasn’t sure if NFL general managers would draft Jack in the first round based on his potential alone.

“I hope that he’s put enough out there that they can get a true evaluation, because if they can’t get a true evaluation of you, they’re not gonna take you – they’re just not,” Mora said. “They don’t take on speculation – not in the first round at least.”

Determining factor

One of the reasons why Jack withdrew from school at this point is because he wanted to devote all of his time and energy to his rehab process, Mora said.

“He doesn’t see any point in staying in school,” Mora said. “He’s gonna go and get some personal training and rehab.”

Mora said Jack’s plan is to go outside of Los Angeles to start his rehab and draft preparation.

“(He wants to) get into an environment where he can really just focus on one thing and one thing only, and that’s rehabbing his knee and getting himself prepared for the next step,” Mora said.

During that rehab process, Jack will do “whatever he can” to remain in touch with the players on the UCLA football team, Mora said.

“He doesn’t want me to feel like he’s abandoned this team at all,” Mora added. “I don’t hold any ill will or grudges or anything. I think everyone has to do what they have to do for themselves. … He’s a great young man. He has a tremendous future, I believe, and I support him 100 percent.”

Compiled by Matthew Joye, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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