Defensive back Rhedi Short announced his commitment to UCLA on Thursday afternoon, becoming the third member of the Bruins’ 2017 class.
An unranked recruit, the 6-foot-1 safety had 21 tackles and two interceptions last fall as a sophomore at Los Angeles Cathedral — the same school that produced former UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson, an All-Pac-12 second-team selection in 2014.
Ka’imi Fairbairn has quietly become a very effective kickoff specialist. The UCLA senior has landed 23 of 29 of his kicks into the end zone this year — way up from 62.5 percent in 2014, and 50 percent the year before.
Still, the rest of the Bruins’ kickoff coverage team might want him to ease back now and then.
“I think if you ask those 10 guys that are running down there,” said head coach Jim Mora, “they’d like him every once in a while to not kick it through the end zone, so they could take a shot rather than just run a 60-yard dash.”
UCLA is one of the stingiest teams in the FBS when it comes to kickoff returns, helped in part by Fairbairn’s efficiency in forcing opponents to start drives on their own 25-yard line. The Bruins currently rank No. 3 in the FBS, allowing 12.83 yards per return, and was also top-20 in 2013.
“I think it’s scheme,” Mora said. “It’s attention to detail. More than anything, it’s just attitude. Those guys, it’s an honor to be on that team, the kickoff team.”
UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley talked about what he saw the Bruins do wrong against Arizona last Saturday, from his own playcalling to what opponents may do now that the team’s struggles against the zone read have been revealed.