Saturday Practice Report

There were some key recruits in attendance at UCLA's practice on Saturday, and the Bruins got some good team work in...

It was a pretty overcast practice on Saturday. UCLA went into scrimmage mode for a good portion of the practice, with several situational team drills. Probably the biggest news of the practice was that Pittsburgh transfer running back Rushel Shell was in attendance, getting love from several of the coaches including Taylor Mazzone, Steve Broussard, and Lou Spanos. Shell has a big body, at about 5'11 with a pretty thick build. He wore a white UCLA sweatshirt for a good portion of the practice.

The practice itself got a little chippy at times. During 1 on 1s, Shaquelle Evans started getting very mouthy with Ishmael Adams, yelling some pretty demeaning trash talk at him and then actually standing in the way of the play for a couple of minutes to continue talking trash to him. That set off a sequence of events that bled into the next period, when Kevin McReynolds, Alexandru Ceachir, and Nate Iese were kicked out of practice for fighting. Cassius Marsh actually helped to calm tempers later on in the period.

UCLA started off practice with Pride Alley again, the Bruins' Oklahoma Drill. Randall Goforth had a very nice hit during the period, knocking Paul Perkins completely out of the drill. At the end of the period, the entire team dog piled on Noel Mazzone, for reasons unknown.

Goforth also looked good in coverage on Saturday—probably the best he's looked all spring. During 1 on 1s, he seemed to be playing much tighter to receivers, and anticipated better.

The first play of team drills was a deep pass down the sideline from Brett Hundley to Jordan Payton, probably one of the prettier passes of the entire spring. Payton has had an extremely consistent, very good spring, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running routes with strength and intelligence.

Brandon Tuliaupupu continued to get some work with the 1's at nose tackle. Seali'I Epenesa looks like he might be a bit out of shape, which might be why there's more of a rotation there. By the end of practice, actually, UCLA was down to just five defensive linemen by the end of practice, with Kylie Fitts out with a twisted ankle, Owamagbe Odighizuwa out for spring, and Iese kicked out.

Paul Perkins had a very nice move in space against Anthony Barr during team drills, catching a swing pass and then making a quick stutter step that left Barr motionless. Perkins scored on the play. Jordon James also had a couple of nice, strong runs to the outside, taking a hard hit from Brandon Sermons on the sideline.

Sermons, it should be said, had a very good practice. He looked strong in coverage, and also laid the wood a couple of times on running backs. It's getting to the point where it's really difficult to write anyone off on this team—between Sermons, Anthony Jefferson, and T.J. Millweard, the staff has shown that it can develop players in a way that was foreign to previous staffs at UCLA.

Devin Fuller continues to show why his future is so bright at receiver. He made a number of "wow" type catches during 1 on 1s, including one where, with Fabian Moreau on his back, he reached over Moreau to snag the catch for a touchdown. Athletically, he just has so many gifts—great quickness, good body control, very good hands. He's already one of the best receivers on the team in his first spring as a receiver.

Ishmael Adams, who was dominant through the first four practices of the spring, has been beaten a little bit more in the last few. Saturday, he had some nice moments, like the last rep of 1 on 1s where he played the ball really well to deflect a pass intended for Devin Lucien, but he also got a bit handsy at times to the point where he would have been flagged.

Stan McKay played a lot of safety on Saturday, and seemed to struggle at times, with Coach Martin vocally coaching him. He's never had the best coverage skills, which is why he is such a good fit for that hybrid role as a safety/linebacker.

There were plenty of recruits in attendance on Saturday, including 2015 Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure quarterback Ricky Town, 2014 Chaminade (Calif.) quarterback Brad Kaaya, 2014 Roseville (Calif.) Oakmont receiver Justin Holmes, 2014 Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco defensive end Malik Dorton, and 2014 Chaminade (Calif.) safety Jojo McIntosh. Committed players Darren Andrews, Kenny Lacy, and Alex Redmond were also in attendance. Greyshirt Mossi Johnson also attended practice on crutches.

Ex-players Johnathan Franklin, Sheldon Price, and Khalil Bell also came to practice. Franklin and Bell spent a good portion of practice talking to Shell.

Bryan Harper, who was most recently a cornerback for Arizona, was also at practice, and we're hearing that there is a family issue that may lead him to leave Arizona for another school. He was class of 2012.

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