UCLA spring practice standouts

Spring standouts for UCLA include Takkarist McKinley (top left) and Kenny Walker (far right). Photos by Brad Graverson and Thomas R. Cordova, Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram

Spring standouts for UCLA include Takkarist McKinley (top left) and Kenny Walker (far right). Photos by Brad Graverson, Thomas R. Cordova and Michael Owen Baker (Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)

Spring camp is over and while we wait for the Bruins to resurface in San Bernardino, we’ll get to breaking down what happened over the past month of practice.

First, here are three things we learned and three things we’re left wondering about after 15 practices.

Second, if you missed any coverage from spring, you can find links to all the blog/Daily News stories in the week 4 wrap up.

Now finally, here are some players who stood out during spring and you should look out for when fall camp rolls around:

OFFENSE

Kenny Walker (left) makes a catch during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 23. Photo by Michael Owen Baker.

Kenny Walker (left) makes a catch during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 23. Photo by Michael Owen Baker.

Receiver Kenny Walker

I distinctly remember my first time watching Walker. It was last year’s season opener in the Rose Bowl when he dropped Josh Rosen’s flawless first-career passing attempt. It was a pretty big let-down.

Walker said he has worked tirelessly to change his perception as a fast receiver who can’t catch, and it showed during spring. He had some of the best plays of the day during the Spring Showcase, including a great over-the-shoulder catch near the sideline during seven-on-sevens. Continue reading

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UCLA defensive backs focused on developing depth during spring

Safety Jaleel Wadood is part of UCLA's deep secondary that was one of the best in the conference in 2015. (MICAH ESCAMILLA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Safety Jaleel Wadood is part of UCLA’s deep secondary that was one of the best in the conference in 2015. (MICAH ESCAMILLA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Despite losing cornerback Fabian Moreau early in the season due to a lisfranc injury, UCLA had one of the best pass defenses in the conference last year.

The Bruins led the conference in passing yards allowed per game (203.2) and held opposing quarterbacks to a 113.4 passer efficiency rating, which also was tops in the Pac-12. Here’s more on how UCLA stacked up against the other pass defenses in the Pac-12:

It could be much of the same good news for UCLA as every defensive back who started a game last season is returning. Moreau and John Johnson are both coming off injuries and are not expected to participate in any drills during spring practice. While the team waits for its “wounded warriors” to return, defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said the focus will be on building depth and position flexibility during spring.

Continue reading

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Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

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Recapping UCLA’s 40-24 win over No. 20 Cal

UCLA snapped its two-game losing streak on Thursday by beating a higher-ranked team for the fifth time in its four years under Jim Mora. Here’s our coverage from the Bruins’ 40-24 win over No. 20 Cal at the Rose Bowl.

» UCLA still has tough climb ahead in the Pac-12 South race, but delivered an encouraging performance after back-to-back losses.
» In what was expected to be an exciting quarterback duel, UCLA’s true freshman Josh Rosen came out on top.
» Mark Whicker’s column on UCLA’s solid defensive showing against the Bears.

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UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes to miss season after tearing ACL

UPDATE: Eddie Vanderdoes tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. This is just about the worst news the UCLA defense could’ve gotten in Week 1.

UCLA defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes suffered a knee injury on Saturday against Virginia, the severity of which remains unclear.

Head coach Jim Mora said that the junior’s knee had “locked up” on him during the game. Vanderdoes appeared to aggravate it when he lifted up defensive tackle Kenny Clark to celebrate the latter’s first career touchdown catch. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound defender has undergone an examination, and the team is “waiting to see” on the results.

Vanderdoes and Clark teamed up for a dominant performance against the Cavaliers, helping UCLA limit UVa to just 2.9 yards per carry. Even if he is cleared for action, Vanderdoes seems like a likely candidate to sit out on Saturday against UNLV as a precautionary measure.

Safety Randall Goforth, who was tended to by trainers in the second half, is suffering a sore neck and should be ready to practice again on Tuesday.

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