UCLA got started with spring practice Tuesday morning, and the players had to fight through a slippery field that gave them some difficulty making sudden movements. There were at least a dozen slips through the early going, on both the grass and the turf.
There are two big newcomers for UCLA this spring, with Kylie Fitts and Eldridge Massington both in UCLA practice jerseys for the first time. Fitts is big—he looks every bit the 6'4, 260 he's listed at. He will probably need to reshape his body some, but it's clear that he has the size that Angus McClure is looking for in defensive ends. Massington looks solid physically, again at about his listed 6'1, but is still recovering from the ACL injury last summer and didn't do much cutting. He didn't seem to get up to full speed running straight ahead either. He did some of the receiver drills and didn't display a natural catching technique, although that might very well be due to a lack of comfort with his knee.
Physically, Malcolm Jones, who came back as a walkon this spring, looks very good for having spent the last 8 months outside of a college program. In fact, he might even look a little better physically than he looked when he left in September. He ran with strength and a nice little burst during team drills, and it seems very possible that he could compete this spring for playing time. Paul Perkins looks a bit bigger in his upper body than he did at the end of the season, and probably had the two best runs for any of the running backs during team drills.
Xavier Su'a-Filo looks quicker, even, than he was a year ago, and Torian White looks like he's packed on about 10 pounds or so. Simon Goines has redistributed his weight a little, with bigger legs than a year ago, but probably still has some work he can do physically.
Ishmael Adams, although he was in red, had probably the best play for a defensive back during the entire practice, breaking up a Brett Hundley pass intended for Shaquelle Evans in the end zone. Adams was impressive all day and was able to stay with any receiver he was matched up against. Anthony Jefferson moved a bit better than he did last season, so that'll be something to watch as the spring progresses.
Devin Lucien, who sat out most of last season with a collar bone injury, had the best catch of the day, diving into the back of the endzone on a Hundley throw. We've said it many times, but he's likely the most talented receiver on the team, and has been for the last two years. If he can put it together, and stay healthy, he'll play a big role in the fall.
John Young also made his return to practice after sitting out last year with a patellar tendon injury. He is noticeably thinner than he was a year ago, and looks more like the pass-catching Y than the blocking-type Y. He was still moving a bit gingerly, but physically he looks good.
Dietrich Riley didn't seem to be hindered at all in his movements, and looked very good exploding out of his backpedal during drills. He said afterward that he's learning to play every defensive back position to give the team as much versatility as possible.
Anthony Barr doesn't look noticeably bigger than a year ago, maybe gaining five pounds or so. Given how well he played last year, it might simply be the case that the coaches want him to put on the 10 pounds or so gradually that he'll probably need to carry to play in the NFL.
Physically, Aaron Porter looks much bigger than he did at the end of last year, and looks much more like the high school version of himself. He moved much better as well, and the big question for him will be whether he can maintain the weight through the course of the spring and fall.
Ellis McCarthy is still limited after offseason knee surgery, but looks leaner through the upper body. Brandon Willis, conversely, looks like he's gained some weight back, and could be a good fit at defensive end. Keenan Graham, who's trying to make a run at defensive end this spring, looks like he's put on some weight in the offseason, but will probably need to do some more strength work since he wasn't carrying it quite as well as you'd like.
In terms of the quarterbacks, Brett Hundley had a so-so day to start off spring ball, as you'd expect. He looked a little rusty, with his deep balls sailing a bit. The first play of 11 on 11, he actually took a sack from Cassius Marsh. On his shorter throws, he looked fine, and he might have a little more strength on those throws than he did a year ago. The big surprise was T.J. Millweard, who's clearly made some progress from the end of the season til now. Although he still has a funky release, sometimes almost pumping his arms as a timing mechanism, he actually threw quite a few spirals, with some improved arm strength. He's still a long ways away, but if he keeps progressing, he might have a chance to play in a couple of years. Physically, he looks a lot better, clearly reshaping his upper body quite a bit. Jerry Neuheisel again looked solid, as he did most of last year.
2014 Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) tight end Chase Blakely was in attendance at practice, receiving love from the coaching staff. Lompoc (Calif.) defensive tackle Ainuu Taua also attended practice in a UCLA polo shirt. Pasadena (Calif.) City College offensive tackle Miguel Machado and offensive guard Raul Martinez were also
First Spring Practice Report
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