VIDEO: Conor McDermott talks about return from shoulder injury

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.

Now standing at 6-foot-9, 300 pounds, McDermott talked about his return from his latest surgery, and how much he’s changed his body since arriving at UCLA.

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UCLA notes: Receiver Devin Lucien passes concussion tests

» After a brief visit to the hospital on Tuesday night, UCLA receiver Devin Lucien passed his concussion tests on Friday and could return to practice on Monday — albeit in a red non-contact jersey. The redshirt junior had looked like arguably the team’s best receiver through camp before his hitting his head trying to make a catch, matching up with top cornerback Fabian Moreau on most plays.

Linebacker Zach Whitley, who has missed most of training camp in San Bernardino with head injury, returned to practice today for some sideline work. Head coach Jim Mora said the true freshman could potentially be back tonight’s practice, or at least by Monday.

Offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry is out with a “minor” concussion.

Receiver Mossi Johnson took off his red non-contact jersey this morning, while safety Randall Goforth put one on. Both are dealing with minor shoulder injuries.

“As far as comparing injuries to the last two camps, we’re in much better shape than we ever were, so that’s really encouraging,” Mora said.

» The Bruins worked heavily on special teams on Friday, adding a pre-stretch session that lasted about half an hour. Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu took noticeable command of the unit. Since being hired last December, he has been a vocal presence in practices; at one point this morning, he had the entire team dead silent while he barked instructions. Continue reading

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As injuries pile up, UCLA takes break from Thursday practice

Finally, a breather.

With injuries piling up for UCLA, head coach Jim Mora decided to give his Bruins a break — cutting its Thursday practice short. Instead of hitting the field for two hours at 11:15 a.m., the team will practice for a few minutes, then jump in the pool to cool down.

Though temperatures have been milder at Cal State San Bernardino than during UCLA’s last two training camps, the players looked like they needed the rest. Beat down by nine days of camp, the Bruins left standing were sluggish in Wednesday night’s full-pads practice.

Many didn’t take the field at all. The offensive line is without starting center Jake Brendel (MCL), reserves Scott Quessenberry and Carl Hulick. Guard Alex Redmond (heat exhaustion) and tackle Conor McDermott (shoulder) had missed several practices before returning Wednesday night.

Safety Randall Goforth and cornerback Marcus Rios were also absent. They had suffered a shoulder injury and a headache, respectively, earlier in camp.

Receiver Devin Lucien, briefly hospitalized on Tuesday after hitting his head, showed up to Wednesday night’s practice but did not participate.

UCLA have three more scheduled practices in San Bernardino: 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Friday, and 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

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Pac-12 links: Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin comes out as gay

» Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin came out on Wednesday, becoming first openly gay active player in Division I football.

» Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is trying to win Arizona’s starting quarterback — something that would require beating out transfers from USC, LSU and Texas.

» The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $2.3 million for the national ALS association since July 29, and UCLA coach Jim Mora accepted a challenge to join yesterday:

» Washington State crossed the Idaho border for training camp, but wildfires forced the Cougars back to Pullman. Continue reading

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‘Big possibility’ for guard NaJee Toran to start UCLA season opener

For the second year in a row, a true freshman start a season opener on UCLA’s offensive line.

After enrolling in spring, four-star recruit NaJee Toran is on track to start at right guard. In 2013, it was Alex Redmond who began the season there — though injuries eventually pushed two other first-year players into the starting five. Redmond is slated to start at left guard as a sophomore.

Toran has taken the bulk of first-team reps on the opposite side over the last week, and based on his conversations with offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, he expects to be in the starting lineup when the Bruins face Virginia on Aug. 30.

“A big possibility,” Toran said. “Just keep playing like I am, that’s where I’ll be at, most likely.” Continue reading

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Myles Jack calls ejection from UCLA’s Monday practice ‘embarrassing’

Myles Jack didn’t realize how just how far his name could carry a story.

On Monday, UCLA head coach Jim Mora tossed his star linebacker from practice at Cal State San Bernardino after the sophomore had an altercation with offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch. Jack slapped Benenoch in the helmet and taunted him, but the incident looked like a run-of-the-mill, mid-training camp tiff.

But given that it involved a player who successfully starred out on both sides of the ball last season, the headlines multiplied quickly.

“The platform that I guess I’m on, I’ve really got to watch out what I say or do,” Jack said Wednesday. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone high on UCLA receiver depth

» Despite Devin Lucien being sidelined by a head injury, UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone wasn’t concerned with the state of his receiving corps.

“I don’t look at this like, ‘Hey, these three guys are starters. These three guys are backups,’” he said Wednesday. “I’ve got about six guys out there that are all starters in my eyes. They kind of roll in, do their deal.”

Lucien finished his sophomore season strong, catching for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Bruins’ last five games. Without him lined up at outside, fellow camp standout Eldridge Massington would likely move into the starting lineup.

Junior Logan Sweet, who had three catches last year, also got first-team reps on Wednesday morning. Starting receiver Jordan Payton has practiced mostly at inside receiver the last few days due to other injuries, which helped open up a spot for Sweet.

“He’s really came a long ways from two years ago, when he first got here,” Mazzone said of Sweet. “He really figures into those top four or five guys at the outside for us.”

» Freshman quarterback Aaron Sharp participated in his first full practice after joining the team last night. Given how light the morning session was, however, the lefty didn’t get a chance to show off his arm. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley appears on second Sports Illustrated cover in three weeks

brett SI cover

Another week, another Sports Illustrated cover. Brett Hundley landed at the front of the magazine once again, this time as part of SI’s college preview.

Two weeks ago, Hundley was featured on a regional cover teasing a Lee Jenkins’ feature story — an appearance that already had teammates calling him “SI.”

The coming issue will be the 127th time that a Bruin has appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover. Other versions of this week’s SI magazine feature Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

Online sportsbook Bovada.lv also released odds for various college football stats this morning. Brett Hundley’s over/under stat line looks quite reasonable: 3019.5 passing yards, 604.5 rushing yards, and 33.5 combined passing and rushing touchdowns.

As a redshirt sophomore last season, Hundley passed for 3071 yards, rushed for 748, and scored 35 touchdowns — including 11 on the ground.

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