» For someone who has yet to play a down at UCLA, Asiantii Woulard’s career as a Bruin has seen its share of ups and downs. He committed late to the Bruins in the 2013 cycle, reputed to be a talented athlete but raw passer. Then, he opened eyes during the first week of preseason camp, making himself look like an underrecruited gem. And then, he faded — eventually hitting a wall that kept him from even being a backup last season.
So he deserves some credit for making a bit of noise this spring. Woulard had a rough start to spring camp, a stretch of the quarterback competition that was seized early by the precocious Josh Rosen. But halfway through, he finally broke out — completing what Jim Mora later called the best Woulard had looked in a UCLA jersey. (It’s worth mentioning that, on that day, Rosen still looked the best of the four quarterbacks.)
Since then, the 6-foot-3 quarterback has put together a decent — albeit still uneven — finish to his spring. Thursday’s morning practice was a microcosm of that. During 11-on-11s, Woulard made the best throw of the day by any UCLA passer: a bomb to Kenny Walker on a go route that he placed perfectly beyond cornerback Fabian Moreau. But a few minutes later, Woulard threw into the flat for what would have been a bad pick — had Johnny Johnson not let it bounce off his hands. Overall, however, the former four-star recruit is definitely trending up.
Taking into consideration everything that’s happened this spring, Josh Rosen still looks like the best choice to start at quarterback. While his last two practices have been a bit underwhelming compared to what he did the first two or three weeks, there isn’t any area of the game where he really trails another starting candidate. (Woulard would probably beat him in a foot race, but Rosen has looked much better in terms of his feel in the pocket.) His worst play was probably when he forced a ball that was nearly picked off by Moreau, but he otherwise looked fine.
» Jaleel Wadood probably should have gotten praise earlier this spring too, but he’s become a really solid part of UCLA’s secondary. He was a sure tackler right from the moment he was thrown into the starting lineup as an injury replacement for Randall Goforth, and has continued that progression this spring. He’s never going to be the biggest guy on the field, but he’s usually in the right spot and has an impressive nose for the ball.
» Myles Jack is probably the most exciting player to watch during one-on-one drills, and that was the case again on Thursday. With receiver Mossi Johnson sidelined by a minor leg injury, Jack matched up with fullback Nate Iese. The battle was fairly even, but it’s how much fun both players had with the competition.
On one play, Iese gained separation and caught what was a well-placed pass from walk-on Jake Hall. Jack knew he was beat, and collapsed to the ground as if he’d just been shot. Iese walked back with the ball, then tossed it toward Jack as a joking taunt. On another play, Iese turned around for a grab, but couldn’t hold on to the ball as he fell to the ground. Jack quickly returned the celebratory favor — ripping off his helmet and zooming to the sideline like he’d just won the lottery.
» Jack practiced as a kick returner for the third practice in a row, so he’ll likely have a good chance to do some of that on Saturday at the Rose Bowl — if not into preseason camp and the actual season. It’s been just him and Ishmael Adams working there for the last two days of spring camp.
» Offensive guard Alex Redmond was about 45 minutes late to practice. With Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry both recovering from offseason surgeries, Poasi Moala was the guy who moved into the starting lineup then.
UCLA now has a lot of depth on the offensive line, but the one concern is probably at center. The Bruins used a walk-on to back up three-year starter Jake Brendel all of this spring, and there were some botched snaps this spring. (One today went above Woulard’s head.) Quessenberry — a top-five center in the class of 2013 — is probably the most promising option to move there once he gets healthy.