UCLA spring camp position review: Receivers

UCLA's Mossi Johnson catches a pass during spring football practice on April 2 at Spaulding Field.(Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA’s Mossi Johnson catches a pass during spring football practice on April 2 at Spaulding Field.(Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA has not produced a 1,000-yard receiver since 2011. Looking at the state of the Bruins’ offense, it’s a good bet that the drought will extend for another season.

Such is the nature of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s scheme. For three years, UCLA has divvied up targets between bevy of receivers, racking up significant total yards without creating a dominant No. 1 wideout. In 2014, Jordan Payton became the first Bruin to record more than 60 catches in the Jim Mora era; that same season, 12 others in the Pac-12 cleared that same threshold.

Payton might crack four-digit yardage as a senior, but the chemistry he built with Brett Hundley might not necessarily carry over when UCLA picks a new starter. (Even last year, Payton’s production tailed off as the season progressed; he didn’t top 58 yards or catch a single touchdown in his last four games.) This is not to say that the receiving corps are in any real trouble. After all, they return all but one member, and add a few others. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Myles Jack practices at kick returner

» Myles Jack worked a bit as a returner on Monday, and yeah — it’d be a ton of fun to watch the linebacker toss his 6-foot-1, 231-pound frame around on special teams in a real game. Don’t hold your breath, though.

“If he’s doing that, he’s just messing around,” said head coach Jim Mora, who expressed surprise that Jack had been returning kicks. “Myles has to be moving out there. So if there’s a drill he’s not involved in, he just goes and gets involved. I didn’t even know he was taking reps back there. He’s not on the depth chart as a kick returner.”

And given UCLA’s depth there, putting Jack at further risk of injury seems foolhardy — no matter how thrilling the potential highlights.

In addition to No. 1 returner Ishmael Adams, the current rotation on kick and punt returns includes safety Jaleel Wadood, receiver Jordan Lasley, receiver Devin Fuller, running back Craig Lee, receiver Kenneth Walker, safety Randall Goforth and receiver Aaron Sharp.

» Not much has changed in the ongoing quarterback race. Josh Rosen, Jerry Neuheisel, Asiantii Woualrd and Mike Fafaul each took a share of reps today, and none of them did anything that seriously upset the perceived pecking order behind center. 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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