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Pro Bruin Rundown: Kenny Young scores first NFL touchdown, Kelly Rulon joins Hall of Fame

UCLA alumni Abby Dahlkemper (left) and Sam Mewis (right) are two of the five nominees for the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. (Daily Bruin file photos)

By Joel Kepes

Dec. 15, 2020 3:37 p.m.

As college sports continue to be pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic, professional leagues have restarted. Each Monday, Daily Bruin Sports will highlight a few standout alumni performances from the past week in ongoing leagues as we await the return of university athletics.

Samantha Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper, U.S. Women’s National Team

Midfielder Samantha Mewis and defender Abby Dahlkemper are two of five players being considered for the best in the nation as both have now been nominated for U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

In her Union of European Football Associations Women’s Champions League debut Wednesday, Mewis scored a game-winning header off a cross from Caroline Weir to give Manchester City a 2-1 win over Göteburg.

The “Tower of Power” then scored the first goal for Manchester City in a win over Arsenal on Sunday, once again using her head.

Dahlkemper was a defensive stalwart for the entirety of 2020, playing the most minutes for the U.S. Women’s National Team for the second straight year. Dahlkemper played all but 45 minutes as a senior Bruin in 2014.

The 2014 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Dahlkemper joined Mewis, the 2014 Honda Award winner, for all four of their collegiate years from 2011-2014, winning a national championship together in 2013.

The two players can join Lauren Holiday as the only UCLA alumni to win U.S. Female Player of the Year.

Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds; Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees, MLB

From sharing the bullpen together at UCLA to sharing spots on the All-MLB Team, Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole were selected to the All-MLB First Team and All-MLB Second Team, respectively.

Despite the truncated season, Bauer had one of his best years as a professional. The ace recorded a career-low 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP on his way to his first Cy Young Award.

Cole finished 2020 with a 7-3 record and a 2.84 ERA. His success would carry over to the postseason as well, striking out 13 hitters without a walk against the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series, the first AL pitcher ever to do so.

Bauer and Cole shared starting pitching duties from 2009 to 2011, both contributing towards UCLA’s program-record 51 wins in 2010. Cole became the first Bruin to be drafted No. 1 overall while Bauer was selected No. 3 overall, becoming the first collegiate duo to be drafted with the first and third pick since 1978.

Kenny Young, Los Angeles Rams; Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings, NFL

Bruin alumni are making big plays on and off the field.

On Thursday Night Football against the New England Patriots, linebacker Kenny Young recorded his first professional career interception and touchdown on the same play.

The Rams’ linebacker sniffed out a screen pass early in the second quarter to intercept Patriots’ quarterback Cam Newton, sprinting 79 yards in the opposite direction for the score. The Rams went on to finish their 2019 Super Bowl rematch with a 24-3 win over the Patriots.

Back in 2015, Young also had a pick-six for UCLA in a 34-point victory against UNLV. In his senior year in 2017, he started all 12 games and was selected to the first-team All-Pac-12. The New Orleans native finished with 304 tackles, good for 13th all-time in school history.

Further up north, Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks has been nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes outstanding community service off the field.

Since 2018, Kendricks has been a member of the Vikings Social Justice Committee, as well as committing himself to multiple nonprofits. He has also worked with Every Meal helping the fight against food insecurity in the Twin Cities.

Meanwhile, on the field, he is up to three interceptions and 107 tackles manning the middle of the Vikings defense.

With 481 tackles, Kendricks is UCLA’s all-time leading tackler and played with the Bruins for five seasons, appearing in 52 games. He won the first Butkus Award in school history his redshirt senior year in 2014.

Kelly Rulon, USA Water Polo

Hall of Fame status is one of the highest honors an athlete can achieve in their lives.

This past Wednesday, Kelly Rulon achieved that and was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.

Rulon never finished a UCLA year without winning a national championship, as she led the Bruins to championships in 2003 and 2005-2007.

UCLA did not win the championship in 2004, but Rulon redshirted that year to compete in the Olympics, earning a bronze medal. In her senior year, the attacker registered 70 goals, 52 assists, 42 steals and was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award, which recognizes the best collegiate water polo player in the country.

During the 2012 Olympics in London, Rulon helped the United States win their first-ever gold medal against Spain.

Rulon now coaches the Corona del Mar Aquatics club program.

LiAngelo Ball, NBA

12 days.

That is how long guard LiAngelo Ball lasted with the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons waived Ball’s non-guaranteed contract following Sunday’s preseason game against the New York Knicks. He did not make it to the regular season and did not play in either of the two Piston’s preseason games.

Ball never played in a regular-season game at UCLA either, as he withdrew from the school before the season started following a shoplifting incident in China.

The three Ball brothers’ run playing simultaneously in the NBA has now come to an end.

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Joel Kepes | Sports contributor
Kepes was previously a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat.
Kepes was previously a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat.
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