Tracy Pierson also contributed to this story.
Theo Howard, Committed WR:
Howard started off slowly this week in practice, particularly in catching balls, but came on throughout the week. He looked to be the best receiver in the game Sunday, hauling in 5 receptions for 84 yards. It’s exactly what we would anticipate from Howard; he’s had an issue of catching a ball slightly outside of his window, and when he was rusty and going up against good defensive backs this week that was evident. Getting stronger, in both his upper and lower body, will help him improve in this aspect, and give him the confidence to catch balls in traffic. What he does exceptionally well, and probably better than any incoming receiver recruit in the Jim Mora era, is make a play after the catch. He showed that in the game, being able to use his instincts to make people miss and then utilize his acceleration to get past tacklers. We’ve seen Howard quite a bit over his high school career, and he showed exactly in the Semper Fi practices and game what we’ve asserted about him for a while: If he can get bigger and stronger, enough to be physical against college-level DBs, he has the elusiveness to be the game-breaker WR type UCLA has sorely needed for a while. It will be interesting to see if that happens quick enough for him to take advantage of Josh Rosen’s passes this coming fall. Howard is enrolled at UCLA and will start classes today (Monday), so he’ll get a jump on the 2016 season by participating in spring practice and, especially, getting in the weight room.
Mike Alves, Committed OL:
Alves was about what we expected, too. A great-looking physical specimen, at a legit 6-5 and put together well. And he looks athletic at times. But all week the issues he had were with his feet, not being able to stay in front of his man in pass rush drills as well as you’d like. He seemed to get better as the week went on, but he just didn’t move his feet, and would lunge a bit, in pass protection. Hopefully it’s something that can be corrected when he gets to UCLA, but it’s probably going to take some time. Alves, though, did look much better in run blocking; when he’s pushing ahead, instead of shuffling his feet to move backward, he was much better, and you could see his athleticism more that way. He was most effective in the game when he was pulling, pancaking a couple of guys while doing it. He projects, then, as a guard, and that’s fine, even though UCLA desperately needs some guys who can play tackle if you project the OL depth chart out a couple of years. He’ll have to, then, as a guard, continue to improve his bend and leverage. Alves is someone who is probably a couple of years away from contributing, needing to get some technical work, and improved feet, as well as gain strength.
Demetric Felton, Committed WR:
Felton just didn’t get many touches all week in practice and in the game. When he did, he showed some shiftiness and explosion. He had the ball thrown his way just a couple of times in the game, but did have a few touches out of the backfield where he flashed. He has a good body for a slot receiver, with wide shoulders and a frame to put on more muscle. He had ad a good overall week of practice, showing speed and the ability to get open. He's a natural running back so catching the ball consistently will be a process but he didn't drop many balls and looked very comfortable playing in the slot. He had a good kick return in the game, where he showed patience and then burst. With UCLA looking fairly deep at the slot position, we think Felton will probably be a guy who could use a year to get bigger and more acclimated to receiver.
Osa Odighizuwa, Committed DL:
It was interesting to see Odighizuwa this week, really playing at this level of competition for the first time. He started off slow at the beginning practice, looking a little stunned against such a high level of competitive, but ended up drawing raves from the DL coach, who ironically also has a wrestling background, like Osa. He got better and better every day and has a chance to be very good at the next level, depending on how much bigger and stronger he gets. He's all of 250 pounds but doesn't look like he's done growing. Has very long arms, huge hands and is naturally strong. He has never had much of an off-season due to wrestling and we could see him putting on some serious size once he fully devotes himself to football and weight training year around. Maybe not get big enough to be a true nose but he could fit in really well as a 3-tech or traditional DT in a 4-3 defense. He’s quicker than people give him credit for; he's just not instinctive right now so there's a lot of hesitation with him. His game took off this week as he became more reactive and you have to love his toughness and motor. He showed better in 1-on-1s in practice, when it was just him against one blocker while, in the game, he mostly played the nose and got double-teamed, but still got loose a couple of times for two sacks. He looks to be a couple of years away from contributing, having to get bigger and stronger and more polished in his technique.
Darian Owens, Committed WR:
Owens had a good first workout but unfortunately suffered full body cramps and spasms due to dehydration and had to be taken to the hospital. He was better by the end of the week but wasn't able to participate in any more football activities. Owens showed a better burst than we had seen from him in the spring and was running well. He also caught the ball well, although he still uses his body more than his hands a little too often. He's a good all-around athlete who we still like a lot as a safety but receiver is likely where he'll start out at UCLA and his preferred position as well.
Khaleke Hudson, Safety/Running Back:
Just a very solid all-around player that can get it done on both sides of the ball. Has a thick frame at 6-1, 200 pounds and plays an aggressive, physical downhill game. Loves to come up and hit in the run game but has the athleticism to break down and play in space as well. He has very good film at running back and would be a 4-star prospect at either safety of RB. He's what you simply call a “football player,” someone who just gets it, you take and worry about his position later. UCLA looks like it's trailing others at this point for Hudson.