First Spring Practice Report

Mar. 31 -- We have word on some early position switches, some body changes, and more...

UCLA kicked off spring practice today, and it was honestly a little surreal not seeing Brett Hundley out on the field.

We got our first look at Josh Rosen at a UCLA practice, and he was about what we expected. Physically, he's about 6'4 and looks to be about 210 pounds. He threw the ball mostly well on the first day, with every third throw or so looking absolutely perfect, with strength, accuracy, and touch. He didn't do much team stuff today, getting one series of 7-on-7, but he'll get considerably more work in the next practice. In that 7-on-7 period, he was just getting his feet wet with a few dumpoff throws, but did start to open it up a bit more toward the end of the series, and hit a couple of deeper balls. He actually was plagued by quite a few receiver drops during his drills, so it might have made him look a bit shakier than he was.

Josh Rosen
Interestingly, Asiantii Woulard looked pretty good most of the day. He seems to have recovered his throwing motion to a substantial extent, looking much more natural than he did last season. During pat-and-go and the various individual drills, he was throwing with good velocity and touch. The team drills were more of a mixed bag, with some occasional misfires, but, from what we saw, he and Rosen were probably the top two quarterbacks of the day. Jerry Neuheisel didn't have a great day, showing some of his limitations in terms of arm strength. Aaron Sharp is still at quarterback and had a few good throws, but is a long way away from being able to really compete for a job at that position.

Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry, as expected, were out today, though Benenoch is expected to start practicing within a week or so. In their absence, Simon Goines started out at right tackle and Kenny Lacy started out at left guard. Goines looks good physically, with a solid base, and he moved well for a guy coming off several knee surgeries over the last few years. The rest of the offensive line was as expected, with Alex Redmond at right guard, Jake Brendel at center, and Conor McDermott at left tackle.

In the second string, we got our first look at Zach Bateman, who worked at right tackle. He looks good physically, at probably over 6'5 and a solid 290 or 295. Kolton Miller was at left tackle and, interestingly, Poasi Moala was in at left guard. The other two spots were occupied by walkons on day one, which is a function of Benenoch being out.

At wide receiver, Eldridge Massington was first string in place of Devin Lucien. The usual suspects occupied the other first string spots. Darren Andrews probably opened our eyes the most from receivers on the first day. Working in the slot, he looked very fast during one-on-one drills. He had a drop or two, though, so we'll keep an eye on his hands. Alex Van Dyke has put on some weight, looking thicker through the legs. He's working with the outside receivers currently, but we wouldn't be shocked if he made a move inside at some point as he continues to grow. He doesn't have great quickness, but his height is an advantage. Austin Roberts looks like he'll work with the inside receivers to start out, and he also looked good running around, despite lugging around a pretty substantial brace on his knee. Mossi Johnson, in other news, has no brace on his knee and looked very quick during drills.

With the running backs, Craig Lee looked the most impressive physically, as is usually the case. Nate Starks has lost a little bit of weight, actually, looking slimmer through the midsection than he did a year ago. Steven Manfro practiced and didn't look like he was struggling too much with his knee after tearing his ACL last fall. Paul Perkins was his usual self. Colby Cyburt was working with the fullbacks during individual drills, but we're told he'll be a true tight end.

Defensively, the first string defense saw Kenneth Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes in their usual spots, and then Takkarist McKinley taking over for Owamagbe Odighizuwa to fill out the defensive line. McKinley had a big first day, looking very disruptive during team drills, tipping a few passes and getting into the backfield against both McDermott and Goines. Vanderdoes looks like he's slimmed down a bit from last year. Behind them, Matt Dickerson looked to be the primary backup behind Vanderdoes (essentially that role that flips between defensive end and three-technique), Jacob Tuioti-Mariner worked behind McKinley, and a combination of Ainuu Taua and Carl Hulick were the main nose tackles behind Clark. Najee Toran was with the third string mostly, working at the Dickerson/Vanderdoes spot.

Paul Perkins
At linebacker, the first string unit was Deon Hollins, Myles Jack, Kenny Young, and Aaron Wallace. Wallace has lost a good amount of weight from last year and looks much more mobile, which should serve him well. Jack, as promised, played almost exclusively inside linebacker, and had some nice reps. One of the best moments of practice came during one-on-ones where Jack was covering Mossi Johnson, actually got beat, but then wrestled Johnson down to the ground to steal the ball from him.

The second string linebacker group was interesting, with Cameron Judge working behind Hollins, Jayon Brown behind Jack, Isaako Savaiinaea behind Young, and Cameron Griffin working behind Wallace. Griffin looked very good on day one, physically looking like a rocked out 6'3 or 6'4 and easily 235+ pounds. Kenny Orjioke didn't get any work in team drills, but was actually running pretty smoothly on the sideline after suffering an ACL tear of his own last fall. Josh Woods worked with both the second string and third string. He has a good frame, but he still has some weight to gain to really be able to hold up at this level.

The first-string secondary was almost exactly what you'd expect, with Fabian Moreau, Randall Goforth, Jaleel Wadood, and Ishmael Adams. Goforth was in a red jersey, and looked a little ginger at times, but practiced pretty much fully. Wadood looks like he's gotten a bit bigger, which is a good sign. The second string was Priest Willis at corner, Tahaan Goodman at safety, Adarius Pickett at safety, and Marcus Rios at corner. Rios looks ripped physically, and was moving really well. Probably the best sign was Willis, though. During one-on-ones, he was anticipating basically everything that receivers were doing and actually jumped a few routes, which was a rarity for him in the past. As we wrote before spring, there was word that the light was starting to come on for him, so that might be happening.

Dwight Williams has moved from linebacker to safety, and he actually didn't look out of place there. He had a few nice moments in coverage during one-on-one, and looks very good physically. That could be the best long-term fit for him. Johnny Johnson practiced fully, and had a nice breakup or two, but it'll probably take him a while to get back to where he was physically coming into school a year and a half ago.

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