Eric Yarber: Quarterbacks-turned-receivers need ‘good lower trunks’

UCLA has done this before. There was Darius Bell, who transferred in, switched positions, and left Westwood with 302 receiving yards and a touchdown. There is Devin Fuller, who ranked second on the team with 59 catches as a junior last season.

As far as quarterback-to-receiver projects go, the Bruins haven’t fared too badly. Next up is Aaron Sharp, who signed as a three-star recruit in 2014. After spotting as a scout-team target late last season, the Houston-area product has all but made the pass-catching transition final.

The Bell-Fuller-Sharp trio shares at least one physical trait, according to receivers coach Eric Yarber. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Kene Orjioke gets medical waiver

– Kene Orjioke will be limited to sideline work for the rest of spring as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered in October, but UCLA head coach Jim Mora said he was sure that the outside linebacker will be ready for fall. Orjioke had to have an additional operation to have scar tissue scoped out, but appears to be back on schedule in his rehab.

He received a hardship waiver after playing only four games last season, so he’ll be a redshirt junior this fall. The same goes for defensive backs Ishmael Adams and Randall Goforth, who got waivers for the 2012 and 2014 seasons, respectively.

NaJee Toran, who started one game as an offensive guard last season, also received a waiver. He will be a redshirt freshman after switching to defensive line.

— Thursday’s practice was walk-on Mike Fafaul’s turn to run with the first-team offense, and he actually looked more effective than Jerry Neuheisel did on Wednesday. His best throw was probably one to Alex Van Dyke, who jumped up to grab the ball over Ishmael Adams. Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Special teams

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. This blog has covered the status of each position group moving forward. Last in the series is …

Special teams

Recently, special teams hasn’t been a major concern for UCLA. Over the last two seasons, the team blocked 12 kicks and punts — an FBS total matched only by Rutgers. Last year, it ranked top-20 in both opponent punt and kick returns; in four of the five years prior, the Bruins ranked outside the top 40 in the former and the top 100 in the latter.

A key difference looms heading into this fall: Jeff Ulbrich is no longer the UCLA special teams coordinator.

Promoted the defensive coordinator, Ulbrich will continue coaching inside linebackers but surrenders lead oversight of the unit that helped extend his own professional career. Outside linebackers will be charged to new assistant Mike Tuiasosopo, who also holds the title of special teams coach. Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Receivers

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. Over the next week, this blog will cover each of the Bruins’ position groups. Next up …

Receivers

Even after losing No. 1 target Shaq Evans, UCLA won’t lack for targets. Just look at how Evans’ numbers changed from his junior to senior season: he tripled his touchdown total to nine, but dipped from 60 catches and 877 yards to 47 and 709 in 2013. The Bruins ranked 44th in the country in passing yards per game, but no individual was among the top 100 nationally in receiving yards per game.

The diversification of UCLA’s receiving corps continues this fall. Continue reading

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Injury report: Left tackle Simon Goines fractured fibula

Left tackle Simon Goines is done for the season after fracturing his right fibula. He had surgery done Sunday morning at around 8 a.m., and will not be able to put weight on it for eight weeks.

He had returned to the starting lineup Saturday night after missing four games with an injured MCL, and his absence again forces three true freshmen onto UCLA’s first-string offensive line. The unit had one of its worst showings of the season against Arizona State, allowing nine sacks. Head coach Jim Mora said that after looking at film, quarterback Brett Hundley would have had a hard time avoiding most of those even with an early throw or run.

USC’s defensive front is just as impressive than the Sun Devils’. The Trojans have 32 sacks on the season to ASU’s 34, and are slightly ahead with 82 tackles for loss to 77.

— Receivers Grayson Mazzone and Darren Andrews will both have surgery for torn knee ligaments. Continue reading

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