First Impressions From Day 1, Spring Practice At UCLA

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

Went out to practice yesterday to catch a look at how our young gentlemen have developed, and how their well documented physical improvements translated to the field. First thing I noticed: there was a palpable aura of excitement around these guys. Everyone was jumping around, yelling, dancing during warm ups, just generally being pumped up about the start of football. This carried over into drills, as well. Nobody was slacking or taking drills off, and that includes the coaches. There were no lags in practice; it moved from one drill to the next in rapid succession. Everything I saw was indicative of the effort and planning our team is putting into it's success.

During the course of practice, I managed to watch a few different groups up close: the linebackers, the defensive backs, and the qb's/receivers. I didn't manage to get a look at either offensive or defensive line, as they spent most of the day at the far end of Spaulding out of the sight of mere fans. I'll dive into specific observations after the jump.

First, the linebackers. On the surface, this group does is not huge physically, and they don't look it. It is not our most athletic position on the field. Akeem Ayers, as you know, is a beast, Patrick Larimore is big, and Isaiah Bowens looks fairly athletic; everyone else is somewhat unexceptional. I am not sure what to make of Glenn Love. He is easily the tallest of the group, and fairly athletic since he comes over from the defensive backfield. However, he had a fair number of struggles and Clark Lea was giving him lots of coaching. Not really surprising, considering he just moved to LB, but the point is he was not super comfortable at LB yet. 

The DB's looked pretty good all day. Rahim Moore looked good; faster and stronger than the end of last season, ready to go. Dalton Hilliard is someone to keep an eye on, I think. He is very athletic and acts like he belongs on the field. Christian Ramirez looked decent, although oddly enough he had probably the least sure hands of the group. Sheldon Price looked stronger and more comfortable, and during team drills he fared pretty well, though Rosario made one spectacular catch over his head. Brandon Sermons was having kind of tough first day as several receivers just flat beat him; it'll be interesting to see how he responds going forward.

On the the QB's. I got a short look at these guys as they went through the passing tree and worked on footwork, as well as later during team run. I focused mostly on Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, and both looked good. Prince looked very sure and in control, he looked like the leader out there. He missed on a few throws, but for the most part he was accurate and put good velocity on the ball. He also looked fluid and fast and big. I think big things are coming from him this year. If not, Brehaut might be able to step in at some point, though I'm not sure he is in command of the playbook. He took a few sacks during team run where he simply held the ball too long. Where have I seen that before? But his throws were hard and accurate; the kid can throw, that is no question. Didn't really watch Crissman/Tunney/Landers.

The receivers were a fun group to watch. There were a few anticipated highlights who really stood out: Ricky Marvray and Josh Smith. First, Josh Smith is fast. He scored touchdowns a number of times because he just flat out beat his defender. He is going to be exciting to watch, no doubt. Ricky Marvray was also fast as hell, but he just caught everything, including a couple of spectacular catches on deep balls. Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario looked solid, nothing new. Rosario dropped a ball he shouldn't have and caught one he probably should have dropped, same old story. Antwon Moutra and Jerry Johnson had up and down days, with some decent catches and a few drops. Jerry Johnson looks good physically but it will be interesting to see if he can have a major impact. Randall Carroll and Morrell Presley both came out slow. Randall did not have a great day; he slipped on a slant that led to a pick and otherwise just seemed out of sync, and at one point he totally botched a punt return. Presley eventually pulled it together and looked alright. 

Anyway, there are a few observations I thought I should share with BN. Feel free to ask questions if I was unclear or if there any players you want to know about, and if I didn't see them today I'll make note of them next time I get out there.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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