Scott White: Myles Jack won’t end up returning kicks for UCLA

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won't return kicks in games despite doing so in practices, according to his coaches. (Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won’t return kicks in games despite doing so in practices, according to his coaches. (Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

The first time it happened, Jim Mora dismissed it as “messing around.”

Myles Jack, he insisted, just loved being on the field — even if it meant doing something that would never translate into a game. The UCLA linebacker was not being considered a potential kick returner.

But four months have passed, and the 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior is still taking the occasional rep on special teams. And yet, once again, the coaching staff is not publicly regarding it as a viable option.

“That’s something we’re just toying with right now,” said Scott White, the Bruins’ linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. “But I don’t anticipate that being something that we go forward with.”

The two candidates White particularly likes are receivers Stephen Johnson and Mossi Johnson, who are entering their freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. He praised the latter for his ball security, which he called the top quality he looks for in a return man.

“That’s first and foremost,” White said. “The guy that’s sure-handed. But at the same time, a guy that’s explosive enough and dynamic, can put their foot in the ground and hit it.”

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Jim Mora: Asiantii Woulard’s transfer wasn’t a surprise

UCLA head coach Jim Mora speaks during Pac-12 Football Media Days at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank on Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

UCLA head coach Jim Mora speaks during Pac-12 Football Media Days at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank on Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

Asiantii Woulard’s decision to transfer out of UCLA thinned out the Bruins’ quarterback rotation, but it also wasn’t a stunner.

“I had a feeling it was coming,” head coach Jim Mora said Thursday. “Some of the indicators that I got from him, and really kind of the way the spring went. There were some family issues. He wanted to get closer to home. He was struggling a little bit. I hope he does well.”

The former four-star recruit asked out of Westwood back in June, opting to go back to his home state and enroll at the University of South Florida. He is currently seeking a waiver to play immediately as a redshirt sophomore.

Mora said that while UCLA could have used Woulard in the still-undecided quarterback race, his departure also makes it easier for coaches to divide practice reps between Josh Rosen, Jerry Neuheisel and Mike Fafaul.

Some more notes from the UCLA’s portion of Pac-12 Media Days:

» Mora said there will be no additional punishment for five-star running back Soso Jamabo, who was arrested this summer for fleeing police — but never indicted. The Plano, Texas native enrolled along with the rest of the 2015 signing class, and will be ready when UCLA starts training camp in August.

» Asked about the status of cornerback Justin Combs, Mora said that there have been no changes to UCLA’s roster. The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is still deciding whether or not to press charges against Sean “Diddy” Combs for his alleged kettlebell fight at UCLA last month.

» Fourth-year starting center Jake Brendel only had good things to say about Rosen, who is widely expected by both fans and media to win the starting spot as a true freshman. Continue reading

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Three-star athlete Stephen Johnson commits to UCLA

UCLA has added a speedster to its 2015 class.

Three-star athlete Stephen Johnson committed to the Bruins on Tuesday afternoon during a ESPNU broadcast from The Opening, picking them over Oregon and other several other Pac-12 programs. The San Leandro (Calif.) High product had clocked a 4.37-second 40-yard dash earlier that morning.

Rivals.com ranks him the 33rd-best athlete in the country — as well as the 45th-best prospect in the state — while Scout.com ranks him as the 30th-best cornerback.

Johnson is the eighth verbal commitment in UCLA’s next signing class.

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