SAN BERNARDINO — Eddie Vanderdoes may have been a little too eager.
Limited by a tight back nearly all of fall camp, the freshman defensive end bull-rushed without pads on his first play Friday morning, his first significant taste of college football. After being scolded by Mora, he dialed the intensity back a little too much.
“As you guys noticed, he didn’t quite understand the tempo there,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He got a little bit aggressive, so we sent him off for a couple of plays. He told me after practice he feels good.
“We just have to really work him back in — not at a snail’s pace, but at a pace where we don’t overload him too early. You can certainly see the level of ability.”
Vanderdoes pegged his progress at about 85 percent. The five-star recruit wasn’t sure exactly what ailed him, but described symptoms that indicated a slipped disc. He said treatment included stretching and a lot of work on the trainer’s table.
“The last few days, I was still hurting a little bit,” Vanderdoes said. “I wanted to go in, but they wouldn’t let me.”
PASS-BLOCKING KEY FOR TAILBACKS
For weeks, UCLA has stuck with the message that it will use five different tailbacks. Through that time, however, junior Jordon James has taken the bulk of the first-team reps.
One reason? His pass-blocking is improving, which bodes well for his chances to become the official starter.
After all, current Green Bay Packer Johnathan Franklin excelled in that area last year as he set numerous UCLA records.
“I think one of the reasons that Johnathan’s going to be such a great pro is he can protect on third down,” Mora said. “You’re always looking for that guy. In the pros, the blocking schemes are so much more complex than they are in college.
“The defenses you’re facing and the pressures they’re bringing are more complex. Johnathan can decipher all that stuff very quickly and get to the right guy.”
CAPTAIN VOTE PENDING
The Bruins voted for captains during their 2 p.m. team meeting Friday, and results will be announced to the players on Sunday. Mora said he wants three captains on offense, three on defense, and a rotating captain on special teams.
Last year, UCLA drew two captains from each group: running back Johnathan Franklin, offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo, linebacker Damien Holmes, safety Andrew Abbott, punter Jeff Locke and fullback David Allen, an All-Pac-12 second teamer at special teams.
Quarterback Brett Hundley was voted in as a redshirt freshman, but Mora vetoed it to ease his transition into his first season on the field.
– Outside linebacker Jeremy Castro, who grayshirted last season, has still not been academically cleared by UCLA. Mora said he could not elaborate on the situation.
Castro did not make a significant dent in the linebacker depth chart during spring practices.
– Left tackle Simon Goines walked with a noticeable limp after hyperextending his knee on Thursday. Mora said the sophomore should return for UCLA’s evening session.
Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts sat out recovering from dehydration and cramps. Freshman nose tackle Kenneth Clark was absent from practice attending his great-grandmother’s funeral.
– Mora said he likely won’t settle on a kick returner until the week of the season opener. The competition includes safety Randall Goforth, running back Steve Manfro, and receivers Shaq Evans, Jalen Ortiz and Darren Andrews. Thigpen is also in the mix once he returns.
– UCLA used its afternoon off from practice Thursday to visit Bruin Woods by Lake Arrowhead. The players held a meet-and-greet with fans during the impromptu trip.