A standout cornerback through spring, junior Anthony Jefferson has started getting more reps at safety. UCLA’s secondary — which returns no starters — is still a work in progress, and assistant coach Demetrice Martin said he’s happy to mix and match until it all clicks.
Jefferson is one of the few Bruins with game experience on the back of the defense, and insisted he doesn’t have a preference.
“I was getting really comfortable at safety last year, and I’ve always played corner, so they both come really natural to me now,” he said.
Having battled back and foot injuries for much of his UCLA career, he sympathized with safety Dietrich Riley, his longtime roommate. Riley medically retired last month after missing all of last season recovering from neck surgery. Known as a hard hitter, the 6-foot, 200-pound junior finished with 57 career tackles in 18 games.
“He’s been through it with me, with my injuries. You know how I was,” Jefferson said of Riley. “It really hurts. It hurts a lot. But he’s doing good now. He’s in good spirits. I’ve been doing my best to keep him in good arms.”