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: Two linebacker spots still ‘wide open’ in Jeff Ulbrich’s defense

» UCLA doesn’t have a lot of question marks, but one position group that’s still unsettled are the linebackers.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called competition at outside linebacker (opposite Myles Jack) and inside linebacker (opposite Eric Kendricks) “wide open” — naming five candidates for the former and three for the latter.

Outside linebackers have shuffled up and down the depth chart this week, but on Friday, redshirt junior Aaron Wallace and sophomore Deon Hollins got more play than 19-year-old junior Kenny Orjioke. Wallace has gotten love from both Ulbrich and head coach Jim Mora this week, but he doesn’t look like he has the speed to be a great pass rusher. That’s an area that Hollins excels at, and he’s looked better than he did in spring.

The competition inside is crowded, but true freshman Kenny Young has been fun to watch. He’s not the same type of do-it-all stud that Myles Jack is, though his work ethic has sparked comparisons.

» After leaving Thursday’s practice following a hit to the head, linebacker Zach Whitley wore a neck brace on Friday. Not an encouraging sign, but it could have been precautionary. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Eddie Vanderdoes enjoying move to three-technique tackle

UCLA’s new defensive look has given Eddie Vanderdoes a chance to play three-technique tackle more often, lining between opposing guards and tackles. The sophomore lineman talked about why he likes the move, and also offered high praise for his teammates — particularly senior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

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Report: Kylie Fitts could transfer to Fresno State after leaving UCLA

After abruptly deciding to transfer out of UCLA on Monday, defensive end Kylie Fitts could be headed north.

According to the Fresno Bee, Fresno State received a release that will allow them to contact Fitts. The former four-star recruit could also end up at San Diego State or Montana State.

A star at Redlands East Valley, Fitts was one of the state’s top recruits in 2013 and considered a coup for the Bruins after he decommitted from USC. However, he played sparingly as a freshman, making one tackle in six games before undergoing hand surgery in November.

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Three-star cornerback Will Lockett commits to UCLA

Cornerback Will Lockett announced his commitment to UCLA Thursday night, giving the Bruins the first defensive back of their 2015 class.

A consensus three-star receuit across major recruiting outlets, Lockett is 247Sports’ No. 77 cornerback nationwide, and its 113th-best Texan prospect at any position. Standing at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, he is Scout.Com’s No. 70 cornerback.

The Manvel High defensive back also had offers from Missouri, Michigan State, and Washington.

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