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. Continue reading

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UCLA associate head coach Adrian Klemm reviews his offensive line

This is what UCLA’s two-deep at offensive line looks like early in spring:
LT – Caleb Benenoch, So.; Kenny Lacy, RSFr.
LG – Scott Quessenberry, So.; John Lopez, RSFr.
C – Jake Brendel, RSJr.; Carl Hulick, RSSo.
RG – Alex Redmond, So.; NaJee Toran, Fr.
RT – Poasi Moala, RSFr.; Ben Wysocki, RSJr.

Of course, the lineup is still very fluid — particularly without junior tackle Simon Goines (leg) and graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche (still awaiting admissions clearance). Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who received an associate head coach title in February, also looks for positional flexibility in his recruits and is always open to shifting his players around. He also stressed that he hasn’t gotten a chance to look at the unit in pads yet this spring.

Klemm talked at length about a few of the Bruins after Thursday’s practice.

Caleb Benenoch: “He looks like a totally different person. We were laughing the other day. We were looking at him on the internet. He was about 350 in high school, belly hanging between his legs in his stance and all that. So that’s really helped him out a lot in terms of — not just being able to get through practice — but as practice goes on, that he gets better and better as defenders get a little tired. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Caleb Benenoch talks physical transformation, move to left tackle

The stretch marks across his chest, the suddenly swollen shoulders — Caleb Benenoch hardly looks like the same player who entered UCLA as an offensive guard less than a year ago. After starting nine games at right tackle last season, the 6-foot-5 lineman is now the full-time left tackle.

He is also down five pounds to 315 despite looking significantly stronger. As a point of reference, this is what he looked like as a high schooler not too long ago.

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Spring notes: Noel Mazzone talks about Brett Hundley’s progress

– Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talked more about quarterback Brett Hundley’s development over the past few months. Mazzone said Hundley is familiar enough with the playbook that he sometimes looks away from the sideline after just one hand signal.

– UCLA continues to run a lot of nickel defense, with safety Tahaan Goodman usually coming in as the fifth defensive back. The former four-star recruit played mostly special teams as a true freshman last season, and ended up with 12 tackles and two pass breakups.

When he gets on the field, rising senior Anthony Jefferson slides down to cornerback. Continue reading

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Linebacker Aaron Wallace, fullback Aaron Porter not enrolled at UCLA

Linebacker Aaron Wallace and fullback Aaron Porter are not enrolled at UCLA for spring quarter, a school spokesperson said Thursday. They will miss spring practices, and their status will be reevaluated after the quarter.

Head coach Jim Mora said this week that Wallace, who watched Tuesday’s practice in street clothes, needed to sort out “things with school.” The 6-foot-2, 240-pound redshirt junior started a game at outside linebacker last season, and was in the mix to claim a spot there opposite rising sophomore Myles Jack. His absence should lock up the spot for junior Kenny Orjioke, who was already taking first-team reps this week.

Porter was buried on the depth chart last season and seemed a likely candidate to eventually transfer. He had been a four-star prospect in 2012 as a middle linebacker.

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Report: Former UCLA player Tyler Honeycutt received pay, agent alleges

A former sports agent alleges that he paid former UCLA player Tyler Honeycutt with the hopes of signing him.

Noah Lookofsky told SB Nation that he began paying Honeycutt and his mother Lisa Stazel while the 6-foot-9 forward was preparing to enter his senior season at Sylmar High — eventually spending $55,800 on a player that eventually spurned him before becoming a second-round NBA draft pick.

Lookofsky provided SB Nation with documents and emails to support claims of payments for apartment rentals, flights, and the purchase of a Dodge Magnum. The relationship extended to spring of 2011, and potentially make Honeycutt ineligible for his entire UCLA career. Continue reading

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