UCLA sophomore guard Alex Redmond has switched to center due to offensive line injuries, a shift that has forced him to read defenses and make calls.
“That’s my one tough spot,” Redmond said. “I’ll get up to the line tired as heck — our tempo’s so high this year — and I’m like, ‘All right, that guy over there, guys!’ and then snapping the ball and everything. It’s more responsibility, but it’s fun. I’m glad they trust me enough to put me at center.”
But the more pressing question — what’s with the haircut?
Eddie Vanderdoes knows how to make an exit. (@puntingiswinning)
UCLA escaped the Inland Empire relatively unscathed. Most of its starters are healthy, as are the team’s myriad rotation players. The most notable players sidelined — center Jake Brendel (MCL) and receiver Devin Lucien (head) — are both expected to return soon.
Without a major shakeup anywhere on the depth chart, what did the Bruins learn from their annual two-week training camp at Cal State San Bernardino?
Ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, UCLA will start the season with its highest preseason ranking since 1998.
Pegged as a dark horse candidate for the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Bruins matched the hype heaved on them 16 years ago, when voters also slotted them in as the country’s seventh-best team. They finished the year ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll, and were undefeated until season-ending losses at Miami and to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl Game.
UCLA is ranked above USC — slotted at No. 15 — in the preseason poll for the second year in a row. Last season, UCLA opened at No. 21 while the Trojans were No. 24. The crosstown rivals finished the year ranked 16th and 19th.
Florida State is ranked No. 1, and received all but three first-place votes. Those went to Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma, ranked second, third and fourth, respectively.
“A lot of things have been going on these past couple of weeks,” Ali told Rivals.com. “I just felt that UCLA was the best situation for me to go and excel as a college basketball player and the best situation for me to ultimately play in the pros which is everybody’s dream.”
A native New Yorker, Ali plays at The Sagemont School in Weston, Fla., where he was once teammates with UCLA freshman forward Gyorgy Goloman.
UCLA completed its two-week training camp in Cal State San Bernardino an hour-long, no-helmet “mock game” on Saturday. Head coach Jim Mora talked about his impressions of the Bruins, including position groups that have assuaged his concerns.
» A linebacker competition that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called “wide open” last week might be near close. True freshman Kenny Young has nearly locked down the inside spot. Outside, redshirt junior Aaron Wallace has been used most in the base scheme, while sophomore Deon Hollins gets a lot of play in the nickel formation.
“There are some frontrunners, but it’s not done,” Ulbrich said. “It’s not over with.”
The odd man out is junior Kenny Orjioke, who at 19 years old still hasn’t fully put together his athletic gifts. Ulbrich talked up Orjioke’s versatility, but hinted that the 6-foot-4, 235-pound outside linebacker is a little behind the others.
“He’s a great guy that, if he doesn’t earn the starting spot, will get a ton of paying time,” Ulbrich said. “He’ll spell Deon. He’ll spell Wallace. He’ll be involved in both facets of the defense. That’s a guy we’ll take advantage of for sure.”
» Asked if UCLA’s defense looks tougher now than it did two years, Ulbrich agreed. Continue reading →
If healthy, Conor McDermott could be a starting tackle at UCLA. The redshirt sophomore played just two games last season in October before injuring his shoulder — which had already been operated on back in high school.