UCLA had its last practice in pads on Wednesday, and with that in mind, the Bruins also had one of their longer, heavier practices of the spring. Several players have made it back to the team over the last week, including Dietrich Riley (who once again worked with the ones at safety), Kylie Fitts (who still had a pretty distinct limp), and Ellis McCarthy (who did a little more on the side than he had previously).
Aaron Porter probably had the play of the early going, taking an interception back to the end zone during the first period of 11 on 11. Since he's regained the weight and explosiveness he lost last year, he's been a force. His development has been key, especially with Isaiah Bowens sitting out the majority of team practice in the spring.
Ryan Hofmeister has quietly had a solid camp. He doesn't have much upside, since his body has nowhere to go, but he's one of those heady types of players who always finds himself in the right place at the right time. If there's a spate of injuries, he is not a bad option.
If there's one position where we can absolutely see a true freshman starting on defense, it has to be safety. While you might say that Randall Goforth is the front runner at one spot, the other is completely up for grabs. Riley, when he's been healthy, has not looked good in coverage, and while Brandon Sermons has had moments, he's still probably not a starting level talent. While you could make a good argument that Anthony Jefferson and Ishmael Adams could be the starters at corner this year, there's a very good chance that one of Tahaan Goodman, Tyler Foreman, or Priest Willis starts at one of the safety spots. Riley had a poor day in coverage, frequently getting burned during 1 on 1s and, then, to an extent during 11 on 11.
Stan McKay has done an admirable job filling in at safety over the last two weeks, but he's not a great cover guy. He's put one some size to more adequately play linebacker and it looks like it has slowed him down some. He got burned several times during 1 on 1s.
Shaquelle Evans has had a very nice spring, and over the last two weeks, has started to take control in his battle against Ishmael Adams. Actually, ever since he got in Adams' face in the middle of a practice, he's owned the competition. He made the catch of the day today, tipping a ball to himself off of Adams in the end zone for a touchdown. He made several other catches over Adams as well.
Adams did get his own back, tipping an interception to himself against Tyler Scott. He has hit a bit of a lull over the last few weeks, but he still shows flashes that makes it seem likely that he'll have a chance at starting in the fall.
Malcolm Jones and Jordon James both had nice runs during team drills, and once again, it didn't look like Paul Perkins made a lot of noise. We still like Perkins, but overall, he's had a pretty quiet camp, and it seems like James has made a decent case for being the number one back. No one has really separated himself to the point where you could easily name a starter at this point, so we'll likely continue this competition in the fall.
Fabian Moreau was the up man on a kickoff return, but he's making a case for being the deep guy. On Monday, he had a very nice return on a short kick, and today, he looked even better. He gets to top speed really quickly, which is an ideal feature in a kickoff return guy. Jordon James and Roosevelt Davis also worked in during the period.
Jordan Payton continued his very solid camp, catching nearly everything thrown his way. Although Devin Lucien has had some spectacular moments during camp, our guess is that Payton's overall dependability could keep him a cut above Lucien heading into the fall.
UCLA unveiled a new sound system during practice which Mora talked about afterwards. It allows the coaching staff to play music the entire practice, while overlaying the sound of the horn and coaching instructions through the speaker system.
Wednesday Practice Report
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