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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VIDEO: Kenny Walker working to return from back surgery


Receiver Kenny Walker has been sidelined all season after a June back surgery to repair a slipped disc. Though the pain became acute following last spring game, it may stem back to the pounding he put on his body doing hurdles on the track team.

Itching to build off his freshman season, he said he feels about 90-95 percent healthy right now. Also holding him back is the fear that he’ll take a hit that re-injures his back, a mental hurdle he has yet to overcome.

“It’s been kind of hard because I’ve got to work in the rotation again, learning the plays all over again,” said Walker, who in 2012 caught 11 passes for 87 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 138. “I’m still having a few nicks. Stiffness. I’ve been having to stretch a lot. My hands have been messed up. But it’s been great.”

The 5-foot-9, 171-pounder thinks he’s a little faster than he was last year, but still gets tightness in his hips. He expects to feel 100 percent by spring camp, where his biggest impact could come on special teams.

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Kenneth Walker to miss 2013 season after back surgery

Kenneth Walker will likely sit out UCLA’s upcoming season after undergoing back surgery, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 5-foot-9 receiver caught 11 passes for 87 yards as a freshman last season, and also returned seven kickoffs for 138 yards. Although he showed encouraging flashes through spring practices, Walker had a tendency to drop catchable passes and wasn’t near the top of the depth chart.

The Bruins return senior Shaq Evans, mentioned in some preseason All-Pac-12 lists after leading UCLA with 877 yards in 2012. Sophomore Jordan Payton took starting reps through spring opposite Evans, while sophomore Devin Fuller has the potential to become a multi-position weapon.

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