Wide Receiver Christian Pabico became a household name last year after a breakout 2017 season. Pabico met with the media Thursday and talked a lot about changes with the new coaching staff. Luckily, wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty is coming back this fall and, along with running backs coach DeShaun Foster, will give the running backs and wide receivers some stability in these changing times.
Pabico was asked about the role Kelly’s receivers play when they are not busy trying to catch the ball. Pabico said Kelly puts the emphasis on transitioning, where they are expected to block downfield and take on a defensive role so the quarterback can either run himself or pass to someone else.
As for newcomers, Kyle Phillips is the lone receiver who is new to the team for Spring ball, and Pabico had a lot of positives to say about him. He knows the plays and is fitting in with the team. Pabico seems to like the role as a leader without Darren Andrews and Jordan Lasley around, saying, “I don’t have guys to look up to because I am that older guy now,”. Dymond Lee and Theo Howard are also providing leadership and this tight knit group communicates daily through a group chat as often as they can.
Speaking of Theo, according to the media, he looks like he is taking another step forward in his progress. He and Pabico are both coming into their own and getting even more comfortable playing on the NCAA stage. Pabico is focusing on Spring ball but is also hoping for a scholarship.
The pace of practice is something that comes up in every player interview. Pabico reports that it was tiring at first (especially the first day) but he’s getting used to it and figuring out how to pace himself. He was able to come out during the offseason and work some basic plays with Devon Modster, and is also wearing a GPS monitoring system to track how fast he’s running. The main idea is to gauge how hard a player is working and figure out if a player needs to back off practice to pace himself properly to get through Spring ball healthy. This will hopefully prevent hamstring and other injuries and save the receivers’ legs for those ever important Saturdays this fall.
Here is the full video of Christian Pabico’s interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics on YouTube:
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Chip Kelly met with the media before practice on both last Saturday and this Tuesday. On Saturday, he discussed some position changes along with players who are no longer in the program like Stephan Zabie, Jalen Starks, and DeChaun Holiday.
After practice Tuesday, Osa Odighizuwa and Chigozie Nnoruka met with the media. The video of their interviews is courtesy UCLA Athletics on YouTube.
The final Spring Practice of March will be held this morning at 10 am.