UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks makes a diving tackle to stop Stanford running… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)
Eric Kendricks, UCLA linebacker, remembers the last time California came to the Rose Bowl.
He attended the game with other UCLA recruits and was sitting with his father, former Bruins running back Marv Kendricks. Both forgot why they were there when Bears linebacker Mychal Kendricks intercepted a pass late in the game.
As his brother ran 68 yards for a touchdown that clinched a 45-26 Cal victory, Kendricks said, "My dad and I jumped in the air and started cheering. Then we remembered we were in the UCLA section. We sat back down."
Cal and Mychal come back this week. There will be no cheering among brothers this time.
"We talked this week," Eric said. "But not about football."
Eric, a redshirt freshman, chose his father's footsteps rather than his brother's. Marv was UCLA's leading rusher in 1970 and 1971.
"This place has always been in my heart," Eric said. "I have been a Bruin ever since I was a little kid."
Eric said facing his brother would be "weird," but he was "excited about it.
"Maybe he'll come out a little rattled," he added.
Don't count on it.
Mychal, a senior, is third in the Pacific 12 Conference in tackles and has continually produced big plays.
Last week, Utah was driving with the Bears holding a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. Kendricks intercepted a pass and had a 30-yard return to set up a touchdown to fuel a 34-10 rout.
UCLA was one of many schools that did not recruit Mychal. Few would turn him away now.
"I don't think there is a better defensive player in the conference," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I've been around some good linebackers in my day and he has … got that great ability to stay off a block and great instincts."
Neuheisel tapped those genes, going after Eric, who was 6 feet 1 and 205 pounds as a senior at Fresno Hoover High.
Eric, who has filled out to 228 pounds, received scholarship offers from only UCLA, Fresno State, Nevada and Washington State.
"I see a lot of his brother in Eric," Neuheisel said. "I hope it bears out exactly how I envisioned it."
Eric's playing time has increased as the season has progressed. He is third on the team with 38 tackles despite coming off the bench.
"He can flip those hips," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. "He sees it, knows it and can change direction fast."
Four of the six UCLA players who have been suspended for Saturday's game are receivers, and the Bruins were without a fifth for part of Thursday. Jerry Johnson missed the last hour of practice. Neuheisel said he was "resting" him. Freshman Devin Lucien, who has not played in a game, took some of Johnson's reps. … Guard Chris Ward (kneecap) will play only in an "emergency," Neuheisel said. … Stan McKay has been the strong safety with the first-team defense this week, replacing Dietrich Riley.