UCLA spring camp notes: Kolton Miller takes first-string O-line reps

— Offensive lineman Simon Goines was present at today’s practice, but remained on the sideline when UCLA went into 11-on-11 drills, presumably giving him a day of rest given his long history of leg injuries. With Caleb Benenoch taking on a similar workload, first-string reps at right tackle went to redshirt freshman Kolton Miller.

The former four-star recruit had looked good as a backup left tackle through spring, and he continued to hold his own moving up to play with the starters. Former four-star recruit John Lopez, who hasn’t really been in the two-deep, took Miller’s place as the backup left tackle.

— After giving every quarterback a share of first-team reps on Saturday, UCLA has gone back into the two-by-two rotation. Today wasn’t the most enlightening session, as the Bruins mostly eschewed downfield plays for runs and goal-line work. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Four quarterbacks share first-team reps

— UCLA broke away from the way its two-by-two quarterback rotation for the first time this spring, but it still didn’t technically eliminate anyone from the race. Instead, Jerry Neuheisel, Josh Rosen, Asiantii Woulard and Mike Fafaul each got a turn running the first-team offense in 11-on-11 scrimmages.

No one in the group really had a bad day, but again, Rosen stood out. His feel in the pocket has been excellent through spring, and he looks particularly impressive rolling out to his right and throwing downfield. On one such play, he connected with running back Roosevelt Davis about 30 yards down the sideline. He also made a great throw to Thomas Duarte, squeezing the ball through a tight window on a play in which the receiver didn’t really look open until he actually made the catch.

The timing of some of the plays counted for something too. Rosen was able to get the offense out of third-and-long on his first series, after the offensive line backed him up with back-to-back false starts. There was a healthy crowd out watching from parking lot 8 today, and broke into applause more than once.

Woulard was the runner-up in the competition today, putting in arguably his best showing as a Bruin. He had a long touchdown to Aaron Sharp, and seems to have also developed good chemistry with redshirt freshman Jordan Lasley. Continue reading

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Receiver Alex Van Dyke eager to contribute after burning redshirt

Through UCLA’s preseason training camp, Alex Van Dyke looked the part of a starting receiver — if you imagined him two years into the future.

The true freshman looked bigger than his listed 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, a frame that could easily carry more weight. Also an All-Metro basketball player at Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks, Van Dyke already had the genes (son of a former NFL player) and the nickname (“Bambi” for his wobbly gait).

He just didn’t always look like he knew what to do. After two weeks in San Bernardino, Van Dyke seemed destined for a redshirt — especially considering that the Bruins returned nearly every receiver from 2013, including four who had double-digit receptions.

So it was a bit of a surprise when, with UCLA already up by three touchdowns in last Thursday’s 62-27 win at Arizona State, the true freshman stepped onto the field for a handful of plays. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Quarterback Brett Hundley comments on O’Bannon ruling

» UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley talked about the offense’s progress so far into training camp. Active in the National College Players Association, the junior also commented on the recent ruling in O’Bannon v. NCAA — one that could dramatically change college athletics (2:30 mark in the video above).

Although the NCAA intends to appeal, judge Claudia Wilken ruled that student-athletes could be paid up to $5,000 per year.

“It’s nice to have the athletes coming after me to be able to live a little more comfortably than we all did,” Hundley said.

» Crossing the halfway point of training camp in San Bernardino, tensions between the Bruins rose a bit on Monday morning. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Jim Mora thinks UCLA has ideal line for its defense

» Head coach Jim Mora called UCLA’s Thursday afternoon session the team’s best practice yet in San Bernardino, pointing out the team’s improved athleticism along the front as well as its improved maturity.

Besides injury updates, Jim Mora spent the first 5:30 or so of Thursday’s interview scrum (video above) talking about the defensive line, and how having players like Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kenny Clark, Eddie Vanderdoes and Ellis McCarthy was ideal for this year’s scheme.

» San Bernardino has been unseasonably cool this week, hovering mostly in the mid- to high 80s. Still, injuries have started to add up after four days in the Inland Empire.

The most serious injury right now is linebacker Cameron Griffin’s shoulder, which he landed on two days ago and has wrapped in a sling since. He’ll be examined further by doctors on Saturday.

“It doesn’t look like it’s real positive, but we’ll see,” Mora said. “Keep our fingers crossed.” Continue reading

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