UCLA spring camp notes: Marcus Rios improving at cornerback

— UCLA held its fifth spring practice this morning at Spaulding Field, and Marcus Rios made a strong case for the day’s best play. During 11-on-11 scrimmages, the cornerback tipped Jerry Neuheisel’s pass into the air, and contorted himself to secure the interception.

It was the latest moment in what has been a solid camp so far for the redshirt sophomore — made even more impressive by the fact that he fought off a life-threatening fungal infection less than two years ago. He wasn’t 100 percent even last season, when he came up with a game-saving interception in a win at Cal.

Another offseason should give him even more time to improve his conditioning and hone his skills. He’s already a firm part of the two-deep right now, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him eventually push for a starting spot at cornerback.

— The Bruins continue to structure practices by giving two quarterbacks team reps each day. Today, the rotation gave way to Neuheisel on the first-string offense and Asiantii Woulard behind him. Neither has changed significantly through the course of spring camp, with Neuheisel’s lack of arm strength looking like a factor that could severely hamper him in the race to become starter.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone didn’t give a timeline for when the team will officially name a starter, but was confident that his system will work for whoever ends up earning the job.

— Aaron Sharp is still practicing at receiver, and shed his yellow quarterbacks jersey today for a regular blue one.

— Defensive end Takkarist McKinley returned to practice after sitting out on Monday with a swollen eye. Receiver Eldridge Massington tweaked his hamstring this week, and remained on the exercise bike this morning.

— Jordan Payton is better known for his ability to shed tackles and block downfield than his athleticism, but UCLA’s top receiver showed off some leaping ability too. He made the best catch of the practice, jumping up to pull down a pass that Rios had contested fairly well.

— Caleb Benenoch did a little more work early in practice, but looks like he should participate fully before the end of spring. It’ll be interesting to see if he dislodges Simon Goines from the starting right tackle spot, or if UCLA shifts the line around some other way.