Week Three in Review

Apr. 20 -- In our week three review, we take a look at some of the biggest surprises of the spring...

11 Surprise Players This Spring
(in no particular order)

1. Matt Dickerson

Dickerson has been one of the best performing defensive linemen this spring, slotting in behind Eddie Vanderdoes at his defensive tackle position. He's been explosive and has shown advanced technique for a soon-to-be sophomore. As he continues to grow, he could go a long way toward solving UCLA's depth issues in the post-Eddie Vanderdoes, post-Kenneth Clark world.

2. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

Speaking of the post-Vanderdoes, post-Clark world, Tuioti-Mariner has also been a very pleasant surprise this spring. He's bigger than last year, looking like he gained a pretty natural 20 pounds or so. He hasn't yet grown out of the Owamagbe Odighizuwa position, but that seems like it might be a matter of time. As it stands, his athleticism is great for a guy his size (he's easily 260+ pounds now) and we'd imagine that he'll still have impressive athleticism as he gets bigger.

3. Marcus Rios

Rios, now two years removed from his life-threatening fungal infection, has been arguably the best cornerback for UCLA this spring, and actually seems like he's firmly in the mix to start at the cornerback position opposite Fabian Moreau. Physically, he looks better than he has ever looked at UCLA, looking strong, fast, and quick. He might have the best cornerback body on the team right now. If he can maintain this level of play into the fall, it would potentially allow Adams to slide down to the much more natural nickel role that fits his stature a bit better.

Asiantii Woulard.
4. Asiantii Woulard

If you read our previews and analyses from the last year and change, it's no secret that we didn't expect much from Woulard in this quarterback competition, but he's shown some real growth as a player. First, his throwing motion, which he seemed to tinker with over the last year, has gone back to its more natural form, which has given him much better velocity on his throws this spring. He's clearly also been doing his homework, learning the offense much better and making reads faster. He's still a long way away from being a Pac-12 starter, but there's at least been some development here, which is good to see

5. Myles Jack

Alright, it's a little weird to throw Jack into a biggest surprise player list, but there's an argument to be made that he's been the best player on defense this spring, despite switching to a new position. Playing inside linebacker, he's able to use his natural instincts and athleticism to get in on basically every tackle. He's also gained some weight, looking significantly thicker through the lower body, but it hasn't slowed him down. He's still the same freak in coverage, shutting down Mossi Johnson way more often than should be physically possible during one-on-ones.

6. Alex Van Dyke

Van Dyke had a rough start to the spring, dropping a number of relatively easy catches during individual drills and just looking a bit out of sorts. Over the last two weeks, though, he's been very impressive as he's gotten more comfortable. He's become a real threat on the outside, showing great body control for a bigger guy and, actually, better quickness than we initially saw. His hands look much better as well. We wouldn't be shocked to see him in the top four at outside receiver this fall.

7. Simon Goines

Simply getting to week four without any significant recurrence of his multitude of leg injuries is surprise enough, but we've been impressed with Goines' play as well. He's changed his body, looking much stronger in his lower body, and that has given him a stronger base and a lower center of gravity, which was key for the 6'8 Goines. He's only had to sit out a few series, mostly for precautionary reasons. If he can maintain his health until the fall, he should be firmly in the mix to start at right tackle.

8. Kolton Miller

Speaking of right tackle, Miller, in our opinion, should also be firmly in that mix heading into the fall. We liked him from what we saw of him last year, but he has clearly put in a good deal of work this offseason, looking bigger and stronger. He has impressive feet, and shows very good lateral mobility for a guy his size (like Conor McDermott and Goines, he's probably pushing 6'8). Obviously, his body of work doesn't compare to Goines or Caleb Benenoch, but Miller has flashed in much the same way McDermott flashed to us before the start of the 2013 season.

9. Jayon Brown

Brown, sliding into the second-string inside linebacker spot behind Jack, has been another standout this spring. Like Jack, he has used that placement close to the ball to be in on basically every tackle when he's on the field. He is a good athlete, who moves really well sideline to sideline, and has put on good weight in the last year. He's good in coverage, though not the freak that Jack is. It'll be interesting to see if his play this spring can somehow allow UCLA to push Jack back outside and allow Brown to start.

10. Nate Starks

Starks is another who changed his body this offseason, trimming down especially through the upper body. He looks quicker and more explosive as a result, but the interesting thing is that he's also maintained his strength, and, if anything, is even more difficult to bring down this spring. The added explosion is key, though, and he's been able to run away from the defense at times. Last year, he showed flashes, but we'd expect him to make a great leap forward this year.

Josh Rosen.
11. Josh Rosen

Here's the thing with Rosen: we expected him to be pretty good. I don't think that's a secret. We've written a number of times over the last year that we fully expected him to win the job as a true freshman. That said, he has legitimately been better than we expected. All the things we anticipated would translate eventually at this level -- the ability to read the field, make quick decisions, master the offense -- have already translated to such an extent that we're seeing him do things in practice that we haven't seen quarterbacks do at UCLA in a long, long time. Now, obviously, there will be another, bigger adjustment when the games begin this fall, but so far, he's been better than anticipated.

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Injury Report

WR Eldridge Massington has been out for the last few practices with hamstring issues.

WR Alex Van Dyke came up lame in individual drills on 4/15 and was out for the remainder of practice.

WR Mossi Johnson seemed to get nicked up on Monday, and has been out for the last two practices.

WR Darren Andrews has been limited all spring, spending most of the time on the side with Sal Alosi.

DT Eli Ankou has been out with a cast on his wrist, working mostly on the sideline.

CB Priest Willis has been limited this week due to a shoulder injury.

OT Simon Goines has been in and out of team drills for mostly precautionary reasons.

S Randall Goforth has been involved in most drills, but has maintained his red, no-contact jersey.

RB Steven Manfro has been limited all spring, spending most of the time on the side with Sal Alosi

LB Kenny Orjioke is out for the spring, but has looked good running on the sideline.

OL Scott Quessenberry is out for the spring after undergoing surgeries on both shoulders.

OL Caleb Benenoch has been limited throughout the first two weeks, but has done more and more this week, working into some one-on-one drills.

WR Austin Roberts has been limited all spring to individual drills, and has spent most of the time on the side with Sal Alosi.

WR Ahmaad Harris won’t participate in spring practice due to off-the-field issues.

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Practice Schedule This Week

Mon. 4/20: 4:30 P.M.
Wed. 4/22: 7:00 A.M.
Thu. 4/23: 7:00 A.M.
Sat. 4/25: 10:00 A.M. (Rose Bowl)

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