Football Update and News

The team conducts its first informal seven-on-seven workout in a few weeks, with a couple of returning starters that were injured last season looking healthy. One player appears to have left the school, and another is at a JC for the summer...

Tuesday the football team conducted their first informal seven-on-seven throwing session in a few weeks.

There was plenty to see, and there has been more to hear on the status of various players.

Probably the best and most encouraging news is that senior middle linebacker Justin London has returned from injury and participated fully in the seven-on-seven, and looked mobile and athletic, and unhindered by his injury from last season.

The other key injured defensive player is safety Chris Horton, who watched the session, still not cleared to workout. Horton said he'll be getting the stitches removed on his foot the first week in July and should be able to start working out a week later – so by mid-July. He anticipated that he'll be able to participate in fall camp when it starts in August, but could be on a slow-return type of schedule.

In fact, there was a conspicuous lack of safeties in the session. Absent was Jarrad Page, Eric McNeal and Milvon James. Sources are also indicating that sophomore Dennis Keyeswasn't present, and is also taking classes at a local JC to make sure he's in good academic standing at UCLA by fall.

That left London, Spencer Havner, walk-on linebacker Christian Taylor, cornerback Rodney Van and even running back Maurice Drew to fill in at safety for Tuesday's session. And actually Drew looked pretty good at the position. Overall the running back looks to be in very good physical shape, even thicker, if it's possible, but still very quick.

Sources are indicating that Kevin Harbour won't return to UCLA because of academics, and opting to transfer to a 1-AA school so he can play immediately this fall.

Linebacker Wesley Walker was absent, still recovering from his injury. Havner has returned to better physical shape, while Aaron Whittington doesn't look much bigger physically. Working at linebacker was London, Havner, Whittington, Bruce Davis, Christian Taylor and walk-on Jamel Greer. Absent were Danny Nelson and Fred Holmes.

At cornerback were Trey Brown at one spot, with Michael Norris and Marcus Cassel rotating at the other. Van hopped back and forth between corner and safety. Absent were Byron Velega and Jebiaus Brown, who is believed to not be cleared to play due to an injury.

Watching the seven-on-seven were a few of the defensive linemen, including sophomore defensive end Williams Snead, who said he was now up to 245 pounds, and was shooting to be 250 by the time of fall camp.

On offense, running back Derrick Williams was there and looked physically fine, but didn't participate. Interesting to note that Williams was moved ahead of Chris Markey on the depth chart this spring.

Fullback Michael Pitre also sat out, saying he's still recovering from his hamstring injuries. He expected to be cleared to work out fully within two weeks.

Drew and Markey were at tailback, along with walk-on freshman Ryen Carew.

Fullback was mainly held down by Jimmy Stephens, who looks bigger physically.

Starting tight end Marcedes Lewis was not present, and neither was back-up J.J. Hair. Matt Raney is now fully recovered physically from injury and he did participate, as did walk-on tight end Tyler Holland.

At wide receiver, Junior Taylor looked strong and quick. Marcus Everett perhaps was the most impressive, running strong routes and having very sure hands. Brandon Breazell perhaps has put on some weight, looking more solid physically and in his running stride. Breazell had a couple of nice catches and runs after the catch. Joe Cowan looks more polished. Ryan Graves and Matthew Slater participated, while Alex Ghebreselassie was absent.

At quarterback, Drew Olson took first-string snaps. He looked completely comfortable with his left knee in a brace, and physically looks big. He threw the ball fairly well, just about like he always has.

Taking second-string snaps was David Koral, who also looked about the same.

Redshirt freshman Pat Cowan looked exceptional, with a strong, accurate arm, even though he still physically looks fairly slight in his 6-4 frame.

With so many quarterbacks, Ben Olson only threw 5 or 6 balls, but they were excellent ones. Olson looks big, strong and far more confident than he did in winter practice. He hit every target with great accuracy and power, throwing a beautiful ball to a streaking receiver down the sideline that needed to be threaded between the cornerback and safety.

Incoming freshman Osaar Rasshan was the only true freshman to participate in the seven-on-sevens. Compared to other players, Rasshan looks rail thin. His throwing mechanics are still very raw, and he flicks the ball a bit rather than stroking it. But he had four or five throws and made the most of them, spinning it well and hitting a couple of receivers in stride down the field.

At the UCLA camp earlier in the week, many players made appearances. Marcedes Lewis looked to be in extremely good shape, as did offensive linemen Ed Blanton and Brian Abraham. Brigham Harwell, who has made the transition from defensive end to defensive tackle, looked very large and wide.

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