Don't confuse that headline with getting paid like professional. That's for another school across town…allegedly!
The UCLA Bruins held their 12th practice of Spring Camp yesterday evening, and unlike Saturday, there were people out there to see it. Much better.
Coach Mora was very pleased after the practice, and it was ironically prompted in part by a lull in the practice, the first he has seen from this team during the spring. What delighted Mora was how the team responded to that lull. He said it only lasted about 3 minutes, but the team recognized it and fixed it without the coaches having to get on them. He called this as a sign of maturity and experience and leadership, and named Jake Brendel, Kenny Young, Kenneth Clark, Fabian Moreau, and Randall Goforth as the leaders on the field.
He later talked about the difference in this spring camp compared to his previous three. He called it "different" then expanded by saying that the energy level is different. The players understand the expectations and are constantly working to meet them. Mora especially likes how practices are athletic and high energy and high tempo, but they are not losing control and devolving into scraps and fights on the field.
It feels more professional to me. It feels more like I've always been used to my whole life, the way NFL teams practice...The way we practice feels professional to me. I think it's fantastic. I love the way we've practiced all spring.
Some other notes...
- Devin Fuller was working at outside receiver yesterday, but this is not a permanent switch. He said Aaron Sharp is making "huge strides" at the slot receiver position.
- Mora declined to comment any further on the Soso Jamabo arrest, saying "I can't expand further on the comment we already made. It just wouldn't be fair for me to do so. I don't know enough". And that's how you handle that sort of situation as a coach.
- Depth on the defensive line is a "real concern", but he says that Matt Dickerson and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner have "made "big strides" in their physicality, strength, and how they play the position. He also noted Takkarist McKinley, Carl Hulick, Ainuu Taua, and Najee Toran are doing a nice job.
- Myles Jack took reps as a kick returner. Don't take it seriously. Mora says that's just Myles getting in any drill he can and that's not really going to happen.
WR Jordan Payton reaffirmed the feeling that this spring camp is the best one yet under Mora and staff. He said the team is "cohesive", the offense is playing with "good rhythm", and the" defense looks phenomenal". He credits this to the Bruins being a veteran team with lots of returners. "We know what to do". He said the corners have improved as a group and specifically said Marcus Rios looks phenomenal. Payton also raved about Coach Yarber's influence, citing consistency and tutelage as a key factor in helping the deep WR develop.
Ishmael Adams talked about the high level of competition between the DB and Wr units, and noted Mossi Johnson and Eldridge Masington as being the biggest challenges for him to cover this spring. Adams said his biggest focus for this season is improving his tackling and specifically working on his footwork at the point of contact.
Adams is part of a DB unit that is already really deep and this fall's incoming class will add to that, so it may be tough for some of these guys to see a lot of playing time. Adams says the unit is very close both on and off the field, especially with four seniors, and he feels they can be a very good group.
Ed Lewis and Joey Kaufman from the OC Register got into more details on the practice as well as the Soso Jamabo situation in their usual outstanding Cover Two Recap. Kaufman put the whammy on the Bruins by unforgivably mentioning that the Bruins have had no serious injuries all spring, so get the cart ready - ugh. All 4 QB's got reps yesterday and the unit has looked like it has all spring with no one really changing his previous perception (Rosen will be the started this fall). They mentioned Paul Perkins, Aaron Sharp, and the D line as the standouts of the day.
Jack Wang at InsideUCLA added some practice notes. A couple of noticeable mentions:
In addition to No. 1 returner Ishmael Adams, the current rotation on kick and punt returns includes safety Jaleel Wadood, receiver Jordan Lasley, receiver Devin Fuller, running back Craig Lee, receiver Kenneth Walker, safety Randall Goforth and receiver Aaron Sharp.
Zach Bateman and Kolton Miller switched off as the backup left and right tackles, although the former still hasn't looked as consistent as one might hope of a JUCO transfer. Redshirt sophomore John Lopez got some run at guard, but subbed out at times for a walk-on too.
See? No Myles Jack in the kick return group.
The Bruins have just three more practices, culminating with the Spring Showcase at The Rose Bowl on Saturday. All events will be open to the public. Next practice is Wednesday morning at 7am at Spaulding.