Position coach Eric Yarber talks about UCLA’s receivers


On Eldridge Massington, who spent redshirted last season and spent over a year recovering from a torn ACL:

“He’s coming along. He’s transitioning pretty good. Just need him to play a little faster, stop thinking. Sometimes, he has paralysis by analysis, so he plays a little slower. When he knows what he’s doing and knows his assignments, knows the technique to use, he’s playing well. …

“At his break point, instead of letting the defensive back dictate where he breaks, he’s running through shoulders and dropping his weight and trying to create separation. Trying to play big. He’s 6-3, 215 — he’s got to play that way. …

“Oh no, he’s not going to be a possession guy. He’s going to be an over-the-top guy. He could be a weapon in the red zone because of his body structure. He can hold defenders off, displace them, go up and get the ball. But hopefully, he’ll be that deep threat that we really need.”

On Kenny Walker, who sat out last season after a back surgery last June:

“Pure, unadulterated speed. Last year, his progress was kind of hindered by that (back) injury. He had a little setback. He’s learning the position again. Before he got hurt, he was really about to springboard. Now, he’s taken over from where he left off before his injury. He’s getting better every day. Just getting him used to not running high-hipped like a track guy, but playing with his hips lower like a football guy. … Once in a while, he talks about (the injury), but he’s 100 percent. He’s learning very well how to play the position. He and (Jalen Ortiz), those guys were running backs in high school. They were just very athletic, playing the receiver position. Now, they’ve got to get the know-how, the technique, the fundamentals of receiver play.”

On Mossi Johnson, one of the early surprises of spring camp:

“Mossi, we recruited him as an athlete. We knew he could go on either side of the ball. What he is is a true football player. You put him outside, you put him in the slot, he’s going to find a way to make plays with his athleticism. You put him on defense, he’s going to find a way to make plays to cover receivers. He’s just a football player, and you can’t have enough of those guys on your team. … You can’t even notice he had an injury. He can put either foot in the ground and change direction. It’s not like a lingering effect. … Most people, when they have a knee injury (torn MCL) and they put that knee brace on, they drag their leg. He hasn’t shown any effect from that. He sticks his foot in the ground, changes direction. He’s hustling all over the field. I don’t have to coach effort with him. I can just coach technique.”

On Devin Lucien, an athletic soon-to-be starter who could be on the verge of a breakout:

“I try to tell Devin to speak softly, but carry a big stick. If you’re good, people will know. You don’t have to tell people how good you are. People will know how good you are. One thing I’m so proud with Devin, is he’s becoming a student of the game. He’s trying to be what Shaq (Evans) was for me last year. He’s trying to learn coverages, trying to learn the big picture of the offense: ‘Why am I running the route this way? Why am I stemming a guy? Why do I have to guarantee an outside release?’ … He’s not looking at the little 12-inch TV anymore. Now he’s seeing the big picture, the 45-, 52-inch TV.”

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  • Danny

    WR position is going to be key this year. We need a speed guy. Sounds like Kenny Walker might be that guy?