Position coach Eric Yarber talks about UCLA’s receivers


On Eldridge Massington, who spent redshirted last season and spent over a year recovering from a torn ACL:

“He’s coming along. He’s transitioning pretty good. Just need him to play a little faster, stop thinking. Sometimes, he has paralysis by analysis, so he plays a little slower. When he knows what he’s doing and knows his assignments, knows the technique to use, he’s playing well. …

“At his break point, instead of letting the defensive back dictate where he breaks, he’s running through shoulders and dropping his weight and trying to create separation. Trying to play big. He’s 6-3, 215 — he’s got to play that way. … Continue reading

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Darren Andrews and receivers coach Eric Yarber go way back


He also has strong ties to receivers coach Eric Yarber. Andrews’ father, also named Darren, grew up around the corner from Yarber in Los Angeles. The two first met each other when they were around seven or eight years old, and both attended Crenshaw High.

Always “Uncle Yarbs” to the younger Andrews, the 49-year-old sometimes can’t quite believe he’s coaching a kid he once held as a baby. Continue reading

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UCLA football post-spring: Offense

Quarterback

Be happy that you have one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. Brett Hundley isn’t flawless, but not many players in the country have the same level of tantalizing potential. (I don’t think he’ll leave, but if Hundley declares for the 2014 draft, SI already has him as the No. 8 pick.)

A superlative freshman campaign — 3,745 yards, 29 touchdowns against 11 picks — proved that the 6-foot-3 dual threat is the quarterback the Bruins have long sought. Perhaps the biggest knock on him was his decision-making, whether that meant not throwing the ball away when he needed to or not sliding at the right time. In spring, he looked like he corrected some of that, drawing cheers from his teammates once when he slid on a scramble.

He also took 52 sacks last season — second-most in college football, and something that did start to affect him later in the fall. Continue reading

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Wednesday practice notes: Evans besting Adams

Cornerback Ishmael Adams was one of UCLA’s week-one stars, but has struggled more recently. Shaq Evans, in particular, seems to have made it his mission to abuse Adams after giving the redshirt freshman an earful of trash talk last week. On Wednesday, Evans’ best play was a tipped pass to himself for a score.

Adams should still be fine, but his lack of size is showing. He has also spent all of spring in a red jersey, but defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said Adams could play a game now if necessary.

Evans, meanwhile, should figure to be a bigger red-zone target this season. Receivers coach Eric Yarber also said this about the senior: “I need him to be one of the leaders of the team. Even last year, all these young kids looked up to Shaq. If Shaq wasn’t having a good day, it was almost like the whole group wasn’t having a good day.”

» Jordan Payton likely remains ahead of Devin Lucien on the receiver depth chart heading into summer camp. Payton made a nice catch on Wednesday while double-covered by Anthony Jefferson and Dietrich Riley. Riley was consistently beaten in pass coverage, which may or may not be due to injury rust.

» Eldridge Massington is still rehabbing his ACL tear. He had a minor setback last week, but the main obstacle will likely be more mental than physical. Continue reading

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Jim Mora: UCLA’s Devin Fuller in ‘mold of Percy Harvin’

At what point does hope trend into fantasy? Praise into hyperbole? On the topic of rising sophomore Devin Fuller, Jim Mora ventured this week into that hazy, indeterminate zone.

“I think I’ve said this before and it’s not fair to either guy, but I think he’s in the mold of a Percy Harvin,” the UCLA head coach said. “A guy that can play running back if you need him to, can play slot, can go outside.”

Fuller still has a ways to go before he reaches the same tier as Harvin — an eventual Pro Bowler who had over 3,500 all-purpose yards in three years at Florida — but the suggestion isn’t outlandish, ceiling-wise. Since arriving at UCLA as a quarterback who then turned into a 145-yard receiver, he has proved himself to be one of the most impressive Bruins in spring camp (This becomes especially true if you’re looking for someone that’s not an established star.) Continue reading

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Receiver Jordan Payton confident in red-zone targets

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Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Payton, who had 202 yards and a touchdown last season, talks about how the offense changes without tight end Joseph Fauria as a 6-foot-7 red-zone target. He also gave some respect to position coach Eric Yarber for coaching in a wheelchair as he recovers from surgery on his torn quad tendon.

“We were like, man, he’s still coaching and he’s in a wheelchair,” Payton said. “He’s obviously a great competitor and a great coach and a great man. He’ll definitely get through it.”

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UCLA football injury update

The most significant injury so far in spring camp didn’t happen to a player.

While trying to demonstrate a route on Sunday, UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber went down with what appeared to be a torn tendon in his quad. The 49-year-old lay on the ground for a few minutes before carted off.

“That was scary,” head coach Jim Mora said. “Initially, we went over there and I thought he either dislocated his hip or his knee. My first thought, honestly, was oh no — is he having a heart attack?”

A torn tendon was a relief after that initial scare, and Yarber should be back on the field barking at wideouts before too long.

“He’s got to remember that he’s almost 50,” Mora said. “His body doesn’t work like an 18, 20 year old anymore. I think he learned that rather dramatically today.”

As for the players, linebacker Eric Kendricks was on crutches and a boot after spraining his right ankle on Thursday. Mora termed it as “mild to significant,” and wasn’t sure if the rising junior would return this April. Continue reading

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