UCLA spring camp position review: Receivers

UCLA's Mossi Johnson catches a pass during spring football practice on April 2 at Spaulding Field.(Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA’s Mossi Johnson catches a pass during spring football practice on April 2 at Spaulding Field.(Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA has not produced a 1,000-yard receiver since 2011. Looking at the state of the Bruins’ offense, it’s a good bet that the drought will extend for another season.

Such is the nature of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s scheme. For three years, UCLA has divvied up targets between bevy of receivers, racking up significant total yards without creating a dominant No. 1 wideout. In 2014, Jordan Payton became the first Bruin to record more than 60 catches in the Jim Mora era; that same season, 12 others in the Pac-12 cleared that same threshold.

Payton might crack four-digit yardage as a senior, but the chemistry he built with Brett Hundley might not necessarily carry over when UCLA picks a new starter. (Even last year, Payton’s production tailed off as the season progressed; he didn’t top 58 yards or catch a single touchdown in his last four games.) This is not to say that the receiving corps are in any real trouble. After all, they return all but one member, and add a few others. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

Pac-12 links: Will there be a 2016 bowl game in Australia?

» College football teams will play in 42 bowl games to close out the 2015 season. If Australian officials have their way, the 43rd will be in Melbourne in 2016, hosting squads from the Pac-12 and Mountain West.

» Washington lost explosive receiver John Ross III to yet another injury, one that will sideline him for the entire 2015 season.

» Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe, the son of a former college coach, muses on whether or not salaries are nearing a tipping point. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA spring camp position review: Running backs

UCLA running back Nate Starks during football practice at UCLA on April 20, 2015. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

UCLA running back Nate Starks during football practice at UCLA on April 20, 2015. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

UCLA found backfield stability last season in the form of Paul Perkins, who broke out and became the first Bruin to lead the conference in rushing since 2001. As long as he’s healthy, the running game should churn along smoothly.

But what will make UCLA’s next quarterback even happier is the depth behind Perkins. One of the intriguing performances this spring camp came from Nate Starks, who had a promising albeit limited role as a true freshman last season. Starks only had 31 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns, but those stats don’t accurately show how impressive some of those runs were. He also had his best game when UCLA needed him most, in a 17-7 win over Arizona. Against the Wildcats, Starks had five carries for 41 yards, including a 21-yarder on 3rd-and-11 deep in UCLA territory. He was also the primary back on the Bruins’ first fourth-quarter drive.

Last month, UCLA leaned a little harder on him. Perkins is the clear No. 1 on the roster, but Starks got a healthy share of first-team reps through camp too — and for the most part, proved he deserved them. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

Three-star quarterback Matt Lynch commits to UCLA

UCLA has landed the quarterback of its 2016 recruiting class.

The Bruins received a verbal commitment from three-star prospect Matt Lynch, who is currently playing at Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy, just outside Denver. Bruin Report Online first reported the news of his commitment to UCLA.

The 6-foot-5, 182-pound passer had originally committed to Colorado State, but wavered when head coach Jim McElwain left for Florida. In December, he told the Bloomfield Enterprise that his status with the Rams was “up in the air.” His parents graduated from Colorado State.

Lynch threw for 1,210 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a junior. He would provide depth for the Bruins behind center, where freshman Josh Rosen projects to be a future starter.

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA latest commitment is Owa Odighizuwa’s younger brother

UCLA’s roster will be without an Odighizuwa for just one season.

After tying for the team lead with 11.5 tackles for loss last fall, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa was picked in the third round of the NFL draft last Friday. His younger brother, Osawaru, will soon try to replace the void at UCLA.

Osa Odighizuwa committed to the Bruins on Tuesday night, becoming the eighth name in their 2016 class and the second defensive lineman after five-star end Breland Brandt. Listed at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, the younger Odighizuwa is rated a three-star defensive end by Rivals.com, and one of the top five defensive tackles in the West by Scout.com.

He is also an accomplished wrestler who has won state and national titles, recently completing his second straight undefeated season in Oregon’s Class 6A heavyweight.

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page