Wednesday marked UCLA's first morning practice in pads, so it was a little sluggish at the beginning as the players got used to wearing that weight that early. Shaquelle Evans sat out practice with the flu, and John Young didn't participate in drills, but other than that, the injured remained much the same. Alexandru Ceachir, who sat out a few practices with issues related to his concussion last season, has practiced the last two days and actually looked pretty decent during one on ones with the defensive linemen, showing some of his impressive physical strength.
The quarterback situation remains much the same. Brett Hundley is clearly a cut above the rest, and today it looked like T.J. Millweard was the best of the backups, regaining some of the form he showed in the first two practices. Jerry Neuheisel had a pretty poor practice, and wasn't helped by some bad snapping by backup center Carl Hulick. Mike Fafaul was up and down, completing a couple of nice passes but also throwing a pick to Taylor Lagace.
Jordan Payton has had a very impressive spring camp so far, looking very solidly ensconced as a starting receiver. He's a big, strong guy and everything about his game signals strength—the way he runs his routes, the way he bodies up defensive backs, the way he comes down with contested passes. He could be a very good red zone option in the absence of Joe Fauria.
Aaron Porter, as we've mentioned, is physically much improved from where he was at the end of last season, and seems to be slotting in nicely as one of the second string inside linebackers. He's not only bigger than last season, but he seems to be moving better as well. It's clear that he's had an improvement in his overall confidence and feel for the defense this spring. If you remember, Eric Kendricks took all of spring, fall, and six games last year before he really felt comfortable at inside backer in this defense, so it might simply be that Porter needed some time to adjust to the demands of the position (as well as time to get physically stronger). Whatever the case, he's probably one of the most improved players this spring.
Kenny Orjioke returned a fumble for a touchdown during team drills, and, again, just jumps out to you physically. He's still clearly learning how to play the position, having not actually played football until his senior year of high school and then as a safety. He told us after practice that he's up to 235, and he looks every bit that big. His body can get even bigger, as well, but he's still a very fluid athlete. He's going to be an obvious player to watch for the next few seasons.
Paul Perkins followed up Monday's breakout practice with another impressive day on Wednesday. He rattled off a couple of long runs during 11 on 11 where he probably could have scored touchdowns. He has good cutting ability, and once he makes his cut, he has a very good burst. Malcolm Jones also had a couple of strong runs. Jordon James didn't jump out much on Wednesday, but has had a good camp.
During one on ones, Eli Ankou got a lot of work matching up against different offensive linemen. He's a very strong kid, with a well-built body. Coach McClure was giving him plenty of coaching on his footwork and hand placement, stressing the need for redirecting the offensive linemen. Ankou and Brandon Tuliaupupu were clearly a big focus today during the one on one period.
Simon Goines was back doing plenty of work with the first team on Wednesday after working back into practice on Monday after sitting out with a cold. He worked at both right and left tackle. He actually had a very nice play against Anthony Barr where he knocked him on the ground. He also looked very good against Nate Iese, who clearly has some issues matching up against some of the stronger players on the offensive line since he's still pretty undersized for a defensive end.
Kenny Walker still looks a little raw, but he's had some explosive moments during practice. He's got a little bit of a weird running style which is kind of deceptive, being a bit of a long strider even though he's fairly short.
2014 Ellenwood (Georgia) Cedar Grove outside linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams showed up to practice again after stopping by on Monday. This time he was accompanied by his mother. He's the No. 9 ranked outside linebacker in the country. Former offensive lineman Jeff Baca was in attendance as well.
Wednesday Practice Report
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