I had a chance to go down and check out some of the UCLA prospects at the Semper Fi practices on Wednesday. Obviously , I haven't watched any of these guys to the extent that Greg Biggins has, so my impressions are based off just Wednesday's practice, and how they looked physically.
Receiver Darrell Daniels: He's a physical type of receiver, and if he were to end up in UCLA's offense you could see him actually playing some Y. He caught a couple of balls during team stuff, but like many of the receivers, didn't run great routes when he wasn't featured. He also went down toward the end of practice with what looked like an elbow/forearm stinger after banging it on a defender's helmet. He's big, though—would guess he's pretty close to his listed height and weight of 6'3 and 210, with the frame to add some more. I talked to him after the practice and he said he's actually 100% Washington, and is taking the visit to UCLA just to visit.
Receiver Devon Allen: Despite the ankle injury yesterday, Allen still looked plenty fast straight ahead. He wasn't able to make too many decisive cuts during drills, which obviously hampered him when he was going up against higher level corners like Johnny Johnson. Overall, though, he had a nice day, and caught a number of passes during team drills. He's probably a better pure speed threat at receiver than UCLA has on roster right now, with better hands than Kenny Walker and better speed than Devin Lucien.
Receiver John Ross: Ross was probably the best receiver of the day, getting the ball in a number of situations both downfield and on reverses. He took one reverse about 30 yards down field, and was easily one of the quickest players on the field. He showed some real ability to make defenders miss, so you can anticipate him being a pretty good run after catch threat at the next level. What we've heard is that he's expected to announce for Washington, though.
Tight End Thomas Duarte: Didn't play due to some nagging injury. Looks like he's about 6'3, though.
Cornerback Johnny Johnson: He looked like the best of the defensive backs on Wednesday, repeatedly locking down some of the top receivers in practice. He matched up with Daniels at one point in 1 on 1's and completely shut him down, and also had solid reps against both Ross and Allen. He has very fluid hips, and he looked very good backpedaling. Obviously, it was just one rep, but he didn't seem to have a whole lot of trouble covering Daniels, who probably had Johnson by four inches. With the absence of much returning talent at cornerback next year, if Johnson came in, you'd have to guess he's a candidate to start from game one.
Offensive guard John Lopez: Although by all accounts he had a good first day of camp, Lopez didn't look particularly good on Wednesday. In pass blocking, he actually looked decent, with a pretty good first punch, but whenever he had to move in space during run plays, he really struggled, whiffing on several runs during team drills. He still has a decent amount of weight to lose/redistribute, and it's pretty clear that it hampered him on Wednesday. Of the linemen coming in, Lopez would be one that you'd expect to redshirt his first year to get in better shape.
Offensive tackle Kenny Lacy: Lacy had a bad day in one on one's on Tuesday, repeatedly getting blown by while not moving his feet well or putting any kind of punch on the defender he was matched up against. Wednesday, Lacy didn't participate in many one on one's after injuring his ankle at the end of Tuesday's practice, but during team drills, he actually looked much better, moving his feet and playing with some power in the run game. He spent the last half of practice in sweats with his ankle wrapped in ice, so it'll be interesting to see how ready he is for the game on Friday. He's probably not totally ready physically, looking like he needs to add some strength to his frame, but he's athletic enough that he might be able to compete with a few of the other incoming freshmen for playing time.
Linebacker Deon Hollins Jr.: Hollins had a few plays on Wednesday where he was simply unblockable. He's playing mostly defensive end right now, and at maybe a whisker above 6'0, 215 with very good quickness, he's a pretty impossible cover for an offensive tackle. Obviously, he's not going to play end at UCLA, but he'll likely use much the same skillset as an outside linebacker (most likely in that more or less standup defensive end role that Anthony Barr plays). We didn't get to see it much on Wednesday, but it'll be interesting to see how he stands up against the run at his size, since it doesn't look like he could comfortably carry more than another 15 or so pounds.
Impressions from Semper Fi Wednesday
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