UCLA Football Spring Review: WRs and TEs

May 4 -- The receiving corps had an upperclassman step up this spring, and the tight ends look like they have some real talent...

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Wide Receiver and Tight End Co-MVPs: Eldridge Massington and Caleb Wilson

We're going to do the controversial thing and give the wide receiver MVP to Eldridge Massington. He deserves a great deal of credit for showing his resolve after a poor junior season and putting together a good spring. It was unfortunate that he dropped that first pass from scrimmage in the spring game, but he did enough in April that it didn't diminish his overall performance. He started on the second string, behind Theo Howard, and quickly showed he deserved to be with the 1s. We like how it appeared that Fisch's offense was showing signs of putting Massington in a position to succeed -- instead of using him as a possession receiver, giving him easy catches in which he can then exploit his straight-ahead speed, like with quick screens.

The TE MVP of the spring -- and probably the overall MVP among both receivers and tight ends, in fact -- was easily tight end Caleb Wilson. He was by far the most consistent performer in April day in and day out. He catches everything in a very large catch radius, he's deceptively athletic and able to get open sneakily. He clearly looked like he has developed to be the favorite target of Rosen, and probably all of the quarterbacks.

After Wilson, Darren Andrews would get the award for most reliable. He didn't show much flashiness, but he was perhaps the most consistent in getting open and catching the ball. He was the leading receiver on the team last year, and was the leading returning receiver from his sophomore season, so it stands to reason that he'll very likely be one of Rosen's most reliable targets again this year.

The playmaker award goes to Jordan Lasley. He'd drop a ball or have a poor rep, but then have an outstanding one, making a big play over the top of or make a catch in traffic and then get some yards after the catch. His progress and maturation have been something to behold over the last year and change, and as he continues to make strides, he could develop into a significant weapon.

It's worth also mentioning that Alex Van Dyke showed flashes of being able to have an impact on this offense this fall. There were some moments when he dropped some passes, but other moments when, with his size, he looked like a difference-maker type. There were even some practices where he looked like the most consistent and confident pass-catcher on the team, which is simply not something we've seen much over the last three years with him. He's in that odd position of being a true senior who really hasn't played much, so hopefully it comes together for him in his final year.

Best Younger Player -- Adewale Omotosho

Omotosho showed that he has the talent to be a contributor and potential starter down the line this spring. He looked raw to begin practice, but really came on in the last couple of weeks, utilizing his excellent athleticism (his vertical is phenomenal). Among the receivers over 6'1, Omotosho might have the best ability to get separation. We'd bank on him being a rotational guy this year, and by next year, once the playing field clears a bit among the bigger and taller receivers, he should compete to start.

If Dymond Lee had switched over to receiver a little earlier (say, last fall camp), he might have seized this award from Omotosho. As it was, Lee made some great catches throughout the spring. As he gets more comfortable at receiver (he made the switch from quarterback pretty late in the offseason), he could become a star, as he has tremendous physical upside. He has great hands and good speed, but just needs to get stronger and more polished.

Among the tight ends, Devin Asiasi is obviously a special prospect, and if UCLA could actually get him eligible this year, which looks unlikely, that would be a huge coup. As it stands, he'll give the scout team offense a heck of a look this year. We liked what we saw from Jordan Wilson throughout the spring, as he looks like a big, strong, athletic pass catcher. Jimmy Jaggers also showed off better hands than we expected at times, and looks like a promising prospect for the future. Notably, he hasn't gained a bunch of weight, which is what we thought might happen with him looking at him as a junior in high school, and we'd bet he sticks at tight end rather than moving to the offensive line.

Player Who Most Needs To Step Up -- Theo Howard

Among the younger receivers, there was some disappointment in Theo Howard's spring, mostly because there was probably some high expectation for him to really break out. He started off pretty strong, but tended to tail off, especially after Massington supplanted him with the ones. He still showed flashes of the high-end talent that is there, especially in one-on-ones. Every once in a while he'll put in a rep where he exhibits some difference-making quickness and speed. It could be that UCLA's DBs are particularly physical, especially this spring, and Howard still needs to get stronger. It might not be fair, but our expectations are still high for him for fall.

We continue to hear how fast Demetric Felton is, and we know UCLA is designing some packages for him -- like end-arounds, etc. We saw a couple of flashes of it, but it's too bad he dropped that potential touchdown in the spring game. Damian Alloway was among the best for getting separation in the one-on-ones all spring, but seemed to disappear a bit in 11-on-11s, which can be due to other factors, like quarterbacks not looking for him.

Stephen Johnson at this point, is an enigma. Right when were were about to write him off, he'd have a great one-on-one period in a practice where he absolutely destroyed it. It hasn't really happened for him in team drills, though, and we're waiting for him to have consistent impact, and be that speed option after Andrews at the slot.

Austin Roberts was out most of the spring with an injury, so we didn't get a long look at him. Having him to book end with Wilson as a flex tight end would give the Bruins a valuable look this year. Roberts was developing into a very reliable target by the end of last season.


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