Observations from UCLA Workout

The UCLA Bruin football team had its first voluntary, off-season workout Monday. There were definitely a few things to note, namely who is plugged into the right tackle position, a few position changes, how the incoming freshmen look, and more...

The UCLA football team started its off-season, voluntary work-outs Monday. Close to the entire team, including the freshmen, were on Spaulding Field Monday, putting themselves through various drills and some 7-on-7s.

Ben Olson didn't participate but organized the work-out. Olson, of course, broke his foot in spring practice, then had surgery which inserted a screw into his foot. He was cleared to work out last week, and has been going through some conditioning since.

The other "organizer" was senior linebacker Josh Edwards, who is still in a boot.

It was interesting to see the team play a bit of soccer before the work-out. Some of the UCLA soccer players worked out beforehand, and there then was a soccer camp going on during the football team workout. This inspired a number of the football players to get in a circle and juggle a soccer ball. Cornerback Courtney Viney was surprisingly good, among a few others, and it looked like safety Glenn Love had played soccer before.

The team broke into positions and the veteran players put each group through some practice-like drills. They then concluded with about 45 minutes of a 7-on-7, that saw a lot of bodies shuffling in and out. The offensive linemen, who left the field for most of the work, then came back on Spaulding and went through a short period of lining up and taking snaps.

Here are some observations. I'm not going to comment about every player, so if someone is omitted from this that doesn't necessarily mean anything. There were a number of players absent also.

With Sean Sheller now out, it's even more evident that the ofensive line is the key to the season. Brandon Bennett, the sophomore who hasn't played any significant game minutes, now looks to be the starting right tackle. This is, really, the third stringer – after Aleksey Lanis left the team because of injury and Sheller went down. Bennett was moved to tackle in spring.

The rest of the starting line consists of Scott Glicksberg at right guard, Micah Reed at center, Darius Savage at left guard and Micah Kia at left tackle.

There isn't a great deal of experience, or proven ability among those five.

Senior Nick Ekbatani also shuttled in at right guard, after also working as a tackle with the 2s.

Freshman Jeff Baca really passes the eyeball test. He's at least 6-4, if you compare him to the rest of the team, and probably about 280, and very well put together.

Newly committed JC offensive lineman Donovan Edwards wasn't there.

Kai Maiava, the transfer from Colorado, didn't participate, but was present. He looks small, as we all expected he would.

Andy Keane, who has moved back and forth between OL and DL too many times to remember, appears to be back on the DL.

Even without Olson, the quarterbacks looked good. Kevin Craft, the JC transfer who participated in spring practice, showed off his strong arm and mobility. He was the first quarterback to work in the 7-on-7s and threw a number of nice balls. Chris Forcier still looks pretty skinny, and his arm strength hasn't progressed as much as you would have liked, but he had a few accurate throws. Osaar Rasshan, also, threw a nice ball over the top to a tight end.

The two freshmen quarterbacks also looked good. Kevin Prince, in particular, showed his nice mechanics and strong arm in the drills. In the 7-on-7, he threw a couple of very accurate balls down the field. Nick Crissman, for a freshman, throwing for the first time with the team, was generally accurate in the drills.

There are so many running backs out on the field now it's almost difficult to keep track of them. Kahlil Bell was moving very well with the brace on his knee, as was Raymond Carter. Christian Ramirez and Craig Sheppard both looked quick. Freshman Milton Knox caught a pass in the 7-on-7 and displayed a couple of quick moves. Aundre Dean, as we've stated before, certainly passes the eyeball test. Johnathan Franklin, who is now also on a reality TV show, stood with the running backs for a while and then with the defensive backs.

Trevor Theriot and Tobi Umodu got most, if not all, of the reps at fullback.

When you add the freshmen to the mix, the receiver group looks deep. Working out was Dominique Johnson, who went up to catch a nice ball, Gavin Ketchum, Marcus Everett, Terrence Austin and freshmen Taylor Embree, who came in early last spring and impressed. Freshmen Jerry Johnson looked good Monday catching in the drills. Antwon Moutra had probably the catch of the day in the 7-on-7, on a post, bringing in a tipped ball. Nelson Rosario looks skinny at this point but showed good hands.

The tight ends also look deep. There's veterans Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya, and then redshirt freshman Nate Chandler. Chandler, as we've said before, looks huge. Freshman Cory Harkey looks to have filled out some physically; he caught a ball over the middle, showing sure hands. There's also walk-on Glenn Rauscher, and another good-sized freshman walk-on.

On defense, the most notable position move is Chinonso Anyanwu looking like he's going to make an attempt to become a linebacker.

DT Jess Ward was absent, still recovering from his injury. Jerzy Siewierski didn't particpate either, but looked better physically than he has in the past.

Brian Price, the sophomore DT, looked a bit trimmer. DE Tom Blake looks bigger physically, if that's possible.

Most notable among the young guys was how much more physically developed Justin Edison, the redshirt freshman, looked.

It's interesting how Damien Holmes and Datone Jones can look so big physically in the context of a high school combine, but looked young and a bit skinny compared to veteran college players.

The starting linebacker trio looks to be what it was coming out of spring – Reggie Carter at MLB, Kyle Bosworth at weakside, and Akeem Ayers on the strongside. John Hale wasn't present. We also thought we didn't see freshman Patrick Larimore. Freshman Donovan Carter looks good-sized among the linebackers.

Of the biggest interest among the DBs was freshman Rahim Moore working as a safety and freshman Anthony Dye as a cornerback. We had heard that the coaching staff would more than likely initially try Moore at corner and Dye at safety. Freshman Aaron Hester looks very big at cornerback. E.J. Woods also looks very good physically. It's just good to see an athlete like Glenn Love on the field.


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