The Bruins had practice during the late afternoon/early evening during this beautiful Southern California day, and the news coming out of practice has been nothing but encouraging so far. So, with the sun down, let's get right to it with some bits and pieces of news to tide you over until tomorrow.
Beginning with practice itself, Ishmael Adams put up a big practice set of numbers, making three interceptions in a Thursday evening practice session that the Los Angeles Times described as "edgy and, at other times, vicious" by the Bruins' defensive backs. While there was a small melee between Priest Willis (who probably should focus more on his play, which has been one of the lone disappointments so far, and less on fighting) WR Tyler Scott, Mora was quick to assert control over the team. Speaking of negative news, TE Thomas Duarte was forced to leave practice early on crutches with what UCLA is calling a sprained right ankle, while OL John Lopez missed his second day of practice in a row.
In more positive news, freshman WR Mossi Johnson is making a big impression with the coaching staff and his new teammates, quickly becoming one of QB Brett Hundley's favorite target-men. As the Los Angeles Times noted this morning before practice:
Johnson is still on the learning curve, but he has impressed coaches with the traditional way a receiver uses hands.
Said receivers coach Eric Yarber: "I knew he was a real good football player. I didn’t know how instinctive he was. Hehas a knack for getting open, finding the open areas in azone. I didn’t think he would have that right off."
With Mazzone's four-WR sets and wide-open playbook, it's always good to have more sure hands in the receiving corps, especially with Heisman contender Hundley slinging the rock around.
In case you missed it, the NCAA has approved a new rule permitting universities to provide an unlimited amount of meals and snacks (former Bruins hoopster Josh Smith is somewhere rejoicing this change), which has proved pretty popular with the football team. Of course, given the number of big men on the roster, that shouldn't be much of a surprise:
"I think this was overdue," UCLA receiver Jordan Payton said. "This is good for college athletics."
Payton said UCLA players haven't "lacked anything." But getting more food "is a great thing for us, and for everybody."
Chow down big men, chow down.
Finally, thanks to the very-good work of Edward Lewis at Bruin Sports Report, we know there were some pretty big recruit names at Thursday's practice session:
Five-star DL Rasheem Green, four-star OLB Osa Masina and three-star OL Roy Hemsley were top uncommitted recruits at #UCLA tonight.— Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) April 18, 2014
#UCLA commits ATH Jaason Lewis, QB Josh Rosen and RB Bo Olorunfunmi all made it to practice tonight too.— Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) April 18, 2014
Good stuff. It's safe to say we're all looking forward to seeing #3 lead the Blue and Gold at QB in a couple of years when Mora hands him the reigns of the defending national champs. Let's keep our fingers crossed.