Spring notes: Jim Mora impressed by running back Craig Lee

— After redshirting this past season, Craig Lee looks like he might be the most talented runner on UCLA’s roster right now. The former four-star recruit still needs to improve his pass protection to ensure more reps, but he reeled off a number of nice runs on Saturday.

“He’s flashed the first two days without pads,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He didn’t look like anything different (in pads). He stood out to me.”

— Mora was similarly impressed by freshman Mossi Johnson, who still has a brace on his left knee after tearing three ligaments in January 2013 and grayshirting. The coaching staff didn’t decide to make him a full-time receiver until about three or weeks ago — partly based on his preference and partly on positional need.

So far, that appears to be the right choice. Johnson has looked good as a slot receiver through the first week of spring practices, and has a great chance to make the two-deep depth chart for the upcoming season.

“I’m nervous still with him out there,” Mora said. “Anytime I see that brace, I get a little nervous. But I think he catches the ball really well and he looks athletic. And he looks longer than I thought he would. … When the ball comes to him, he’s able to maneuver his body.”

— Mora was also pointed out the performances of offensive linemen Caleb Benenoch, Poasi Moala and NaJee Toran. All three have looked good at various points this week, and stood out both in scrimmage situations and one-on-one drills.

— Offensive lineman Ben Wysocki was carted off the field with an ankle injury. The severity is still uncertain, but he was on the ground for a while. Receiver Darren Andrews also had another scope on his knee after tearing his MCL last November, and will be out for spring.

— Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche is still on track to be cleared by admissions soon, and could start practicing Monday night. Mora said the delay has only been due to getting and processing all the paperwork.

— Mora said freshman linebacker Zach Whitley decided he didn’t do enough work on Tuesday, so put in an extra 90-minute session on his own on Thursday. Unfortunately, that wore him out for the Thursday evening practice.

Whitley was knocked down a few times by offensive guard Alex Redmond in today’s scrimmage session, and said afterward that the hardest part of his transition from high school is dealing with the faster tempo at UCLA.

— Working as returners right now are Devin Lucien, Devin Fuller, Roosevelt Davis, Ishmael Adams and Randall Goforth.

— At about the 6:00 mark in the video above, Mora starts talking at length about promoting Jeff Ulbrich to defensive coordinator, as well as the pair’s history together with the 49ers.

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  • jameskatt

    Great news for the Bruins! UCLA is going to accomplish a lot this year. The players are maturing and understand what it takes to win.

  • Danny

    Good news about Redmond. Nice to see the O’line dishing it out.
    Last year I suspect we did not go deep often because the coaches did not have confidence that the line could hold up that long.
    Lines win games.

  • Dan Wayne