Devin Lucien taken to hospital after suffering head injury during practice

Receiver Devin Lucien makes a catch during UCLA training camp at Cal State San Bernardino. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

Receiver Devin Lucien makes a catch during UCLA training camp at Cal State San Bernardino. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

Injury concerns for a banged up UCLA football team turned more serious on Tuesday. Wide receiver Devin Lucien suffered a head injury worrisome enough that an ambulance was called to transport the redshirt junior to the hospital in the midst of practice at Cal State San Bernardino.

Arguably the best wideout for the Bruins 10 practices into training camp, Lucien was injured when he hit his helmet on the ground after making a diving catch. He left the field under his own power, eventually making his way to the trainer’s tent.

After he was treated for 15 minutes by UCLA team doctor John DiFiori, a head injury specialist, the San Bernardino County Fire Department and paramedics arrived. Lucien was then immobilized on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.

“I think anytime something like that happens and you seen an ambulance come on to the field of play, it’s tough,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Starting center Jake Brendel’s knee injury likely not serious

» UCLA lost a number of players to injury on Monday night, but none more important than center Jake Brendel. The third-year starter hurt his left knee/leg late in the two-hour practice, and was examined on a table before being carted to the locker room.

Brendel wasn’t limping heavily when he was helped off the field, and the preliminary examination indicated that the injury wasn’t serious.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t need anything more than a day or two, but we’ll see,” said head coach Jim Mora.

Backup center/guard Scott Quessenberry also left practice with what may have been heat exhaustion or dehydration. Safety Randall Goforth aggravated a left shoulder injury, but that also isn’t expected to be serious. Cornerback Marcus Rios was sidelined with a headache, but wasn’t hit in the head.

Freshman linebacker Zach Whitley — who performed well in spring camp — has a concussion and wore a neck brace last week; his return date is uncertain.

» Mora wasn’t happy with how the Bruins began the second part of their two-a-day, and made them restart the Monday night practice roughly 15 minutes in. Later, he sent running back Craig Lee to the locker room. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Defensive back Adarius Pickett switches to running back

» In what was a relatively quiet Saturday morning practice for UCLA, the team’s most notable development was a position change: cornerback Adarius Pickett switched to running back.

The true freshman enrolled early at UCLA as one of the country’s top defensive back prospects, rated eighth at his position nationally by Rivals.com and No. 126 overall. But given how deep the Bruin secondary has become over the last two years, there may be a better chance for him to make an impact on special teams and in the offensive backfield.

“I don’t know that he’d get in the rotation at defensive back,” head coach Jim Mora said. “Running back is still a spot where we’re looking for some depth. He seemed like the perfect guy. …

“We’re looking for reasons not to redshirt guys, rather than redshirt them.”

The move isn’t set in stone, but Mora said Pickett took the news well: “He certainly was open to it. His quote to Coach Meat last night was “I’ll leave here the starter” — not in an arrogant type of way, but a determined type of way. He’s excited about it.”

Of course, UCLA’s coaching staff has a good track record with moving players across the line of scrimmage. Anthony Barr turned into a top-ten NFL draft pick after moving from F-back to outside linebacker, and former running back Fabian Moreau looks like a potential pro at cornerback.

» Former starting tackle Simon Goines had surgery on Friday to remove bone spurs from his ankle, the latest in a series of leg injuries for the junior offensive lineman.

However, Mora wasn’t high on the idea of potentially redshirting Goines to get him fully healthy. The coach said he wants him to be mentally prepared to play by the the Bruins’ Sept. 13 game against Texas. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Judge rules against NCAA in landmark O’Bannon case

» In a landmark case that could change amateurism, a judge ruled in favor of Ed O’Bannon and against the NCAA. Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann breaks down the implications of Claudia Wilken’s decision, as well as the legal road ahead.

» A feature on USC coach Steve Sarkisian, by columnist Mark Whicker: “Some coaches have five and 10-year plans. Sarkisian, 40, has lived in a quick-pivoting sports car, not always using signals, barreling down the roads less traveled, looking straight ahead.”

» Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson is trying to win Utah’s starting quarterback job — and perhaps help redeem the family name. 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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UCLA notes: Three true freshmen not participating in training camp

» A trio of true freshmen were left off UCLA’s training camp roster. Quarterback Aaron Sharp, linebacker Dwight Williams and receiver Jordan Lasley did not practice on Monday, and will not return to the team until Aug. 31, after UCLA’s season opener at Virginia.

“Those three guys did not live up to the standards that we’re looking for through the summer months,” head coach Mora said.

None of the three were expected to contribute immediately.

» Receiver Darren Andrews is officially out for the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee. He will redshirt the upcoming season after initially tearing knee ligaments late last November, ending a season in which he caught four passes for 52 yards.

Cornerback Johnny Johnson is also out for the season after injuring his shoulder for the second year in a row. He had already redshirted the 2013 campaign.

» Promising inside receiver Mossi Johnson injured his left shoulder on Monday, and left the field with a UCLA staffer helping him hold his arm still. Mora said he hoped it was just a mild AC sprain.

Johnson played well in spring camp, and was likely the first receiver off the bench for either Devin Fuller or Thomas Duarte.

» Priest Willis — whom Mora once lauded as a “picture-perfect, beautiful corner” — struggled as a freshman transitioning over from safety. Continue reading

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Defensive end Kylie Fitts transfers out of UCLA

Defensive end Kylie Fitts has decided to transfer out of UCLA, head coach Jim Mora announced Monday.

“It’s his decision,” Mora said. “We wish him the best in wherever he goes and does after this. We’re just going to march on.”

Fitts wasn’t set to start after notching just one tackle in six games as a true freshman, but he most likely would have factored into the team’s two-deep depth chart.

Originally a verbal commitment to USC, he flipped to UCLA in dramatic fashion when the Trojans wouldn’t allow him to enroll early. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Jim Mora warns against stereotyping Brett Hundley as ‘runner’

» Brett Hundley led UCLA with 748 rushing yards last season, but head coach Jim Mora emphasized at Pac-12 Media Days that his quarterback is — first and foremost — a passer.

“I say that about Brett because people have a tendency at times to see an African-American quarterback and say he’s a runner,” Mora said. “And I hate that stereotype. I always have. I coached Mike Vick. I believe we stereotype those guys started with that, and I don’t want that to happen with Brett.

“I’m going to make sure it doesn’t. It shouldn’t. The guy’s a passer, man, but he can run.”

» Mora smiled when asked about the weather in San Bernardino, where UCLA will start training camp on Aug. 4: “I hope it’s hot. I would just like us to be in triple digits. As long as we’re in triple digits, I’ll be happy.”

Unlike last summer, UCLA will not go down to San Diego for a three-day pre-camp session with Navy SEALs. Mora said the experience helped his team later in the season — particularly when it needed to bond together through the death of receiver Nick Pasquale — but didn’t want to dull the impact by repeating it too often.

» What does two-way superstar Myles Jack have in store for his sophomore season? Not even his teammates are sure.

“I’m excited,” said linebacker Eric Kendricks. “I don’t even know what to expect. He put on 15 (pounds) of muscle. He’s gotten so much stronger. He’s been working hard. That’s all you can ask of a guy. He doesn’t let any of this hype, this circle of fame get to his head.” Continue reading

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Quarterback Brett Hundley doesn’t care about ‘big superstar’ status

It’s getting harder and harder for Brett Hundley to walk around unnoticed. This offseason, the redshirt junior has made the rounds the media rounds, been slapped on a budding Heisman campaign, and featured in a sketch video touting him as UCLA’s “Campus Enforcer.”

About par for the course when you turn down NFL riches for one last shot at collegiate glory. Hundley knows the Bruins have been marked as a dark-horse national title candidate. He knows that, lest the team stumbles, the hype is only going to grow with each passing week.

So, what is he thinking?

“I think I feel more confident and relaxed this season,” Hundley said Thursday, shortly before a UCLA official shuttled him off to yet another interview spot.

The Bruins were arguably the biggest attraction at the latter half of Pac-12 Media Days, drawing a crowd even during an impromptu game of cornhole on the Paramount Studios lawn. It helps that Hundley doesn’t seem to care. Continue reading

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