With the NFL Draft still over two months away, two Bruins have carved out another potential option for their pro careers.
Two of the Bruins’ top offensive playmakers from the 2022 roster have been drafted into a professional spring football league.
UCLA football tight end Michale Ezeike and wide receiver Jake Bobo were selected in the 2023 United States Football League college draft by the Memphis Showboats and New Orleans Breakers, respectively, the teams announced Tuesday afternoon. Ezeike was drafted with the No. 35 overall pick of the draft, while Bobo was selected with the No. 60 overall pick.
Ezeike and Bobo will have the choice to mull other professional opportunities – such as potential NFL contracts – before deciding whether or not they will to report to USFL training camps.
Memphis and New Orleans own the rights to the receiving pair, but if the former Bruins decide on going to the NFL, the franchises could still eventually roster Ezeike and Bobo should they choose to play in the USFL in the future.
USFL director of player administration Jim Popp told Fox Sports on Tuesday that he does not expect the players drafted to necessarily be selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“We’ve done our homework, so the majority of players we draft probably won’t be drafted by the NFL,” Popp said to Fox Sports. “There could be some bubble guys that cross over, there’s no question. But this is a chance to give an individual young man a dream come true, that might not ever get drafted. This might be the only time they get drafted, so we provide that opportunity to them as well.”
Ezeike played in both the Hula Bowl and the NFLPA Collegiate bowl following the conclusion of the 2022 college football season, while Bobo played in the East-West Shrine Bowl alongside quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, offensive lineman Atonio Mafi and others.
Ezeike played in 12 games in 2022, starting eight of the contests with 20 receptions, 226 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Across his fives seasons in Westwood, Ezeike appear in 48 games.
Bobo played in all 13 games and was the Bruins’ leading receiver by over 400 yards, finishing the year with 817 receiving yards, 57 catches and seven touchdowns. The former Duke transfer also made the All-ACC Third Team in 2021.
The UCLA duo will have to wait until April 27-29 to see if their names are called in the 2023 NFL Draft, or if teams are interested in them as undrafted free agents. Last offseason, four Bruins were selected in the NFL Draft, while another three signed undrafted free agent deals.
If Ezeike and Bobo aren’t able to meet the same fate, their professional dreams will likely start in the USFL.
The USFL is made up of eight teams, and it just finished its inaugural campaign last summer. Although it shares a name with the defunct alternative football league from the 1980s, it is its own, new entity.
The next USFL season is set to kick off on April 15.