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UCLA Spring Football Outlook
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  03/31/2008

March 31, 2008

During Rick Neuheisel's first few months as head coach at his alma mater, he has created an energy and excitement around the UCLA football program. On April 3, he will begin his first Spring Practice as the UCLA head football coach and he is looking forward to building something special.

"I can't wait to get on to Spaulding Field and starting building for the 2008 season," said Neuheisel. "Spring Practice will be my first chance to see the players on the field and the same is true for most of our coaches. We feel we have a good plan in place, both offensively and defensively, and we will spend the four weeks of Spring teaching and evaluating our personnel.

"I expect us to be very productive on offense this season. We have experienced players at key positions and they will benefit from working with Norm Chow, one of the top offensive coordinators in the history of college football, as well as our other coaches - Bob Palcic, Wayne Moses and Reggie Moore. We are going to have good balance between the running and the passing games. One of the goals of Spring is not only to establish starters but to give our younger players a chance to develop so we can enter the Fall with quality depth across the board.

"Defensively, our players will benefit from the return of DeWayne Walker as coordinator, as well as Chuck Bullough and Todd Howard - all in their third years on the staff -- and addition of Tim Hauck. The defensive players are very familiar with DeWayne's system, which has proven to be very effective, and despite the loss of several seniors, we should continue to field one of the top defenses in the Pacific-10 Conference.

"Our special teams should be solid with the return of all of our kickers and several players with return experience. I feel that we hired one of the top special teams coaches in the nation in Frank Gansz, Jr. and that he will make these units even better."

The schedule for Neuheisel's first season is challenging. Six of the 12 opponents finished in the final Associated Press poll. Seven of the opponents won at least nine games and eight played in a bowl game. Four of UCLA's seven Rose Bowl opponents won at least nine games in 2007.

Offensively, UCLA returns a good nucleus of experienced players. Three quarterbacks - seniors Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan and junior Osaar Rasshan - combined to start all 13 games a year ago. Olson has started 10 games in the last two years while Cowan has started 13. In 2007, Olson passed for 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns, Cowan threw for 696 yards and four scores and Rasshan threw for 259 yards and rushed for 109.

The Bruins averaged 151.0 yards rushing a year ago and four of the top five tailbacks return. Senior Kahlil Bell led the team with 795 yards and five touchdowns despite being sidelined for the year with a knee injury in the first quarter of the season's eighth game. Juniors Chane Moline, Christian Ramirez and Craig Sheppard all gained valuable experience a year ago. Redshirt freshman Raymond Carter, who missed the entire season with a knee injury, will also compete for playing time. The Bruins have experience at fullback with junior Trevor Theriot.

UCLA also has experience at the wide receiver position. Sophomore Dominique Johnson ranked third on the team a year ago with 25 receptions and tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns while junior Terrence Austin made 17 catches. Senior Marcus Everett, who made 31 receptions in 2006, played in just four games due to an ankle injury and received a substitute year of eligibility. Add in senior tight end Logan Paulsen, who has made 39 receptions in the last two seasons, and junior Ryan Moya and the Bruins should be solid in this area.

On the line, UCLA returns three players who started at least six games in 2007, junior tackles Aleksey Lanis and Micah Kia and senior guard Micah Reed, who will move to center during Spring drills.

Defensively, UCLA returns five starters, plus a 2006 starter and several other key performers from a defense that ranked 29th nationally in total defense (343.2) and scoring defense (22.3) and 14th in rushing defense (109.2).

Among the returning starters are junior linebacker Reggie Carter, who made 62 tackles, including 12.0 for loss; junior cornerback Alterraun Verner, the team's top returning tackler (75) who also intercepted four passes; senior linebacker Kyle Bosworth, who ranked just behind Verner with 74 tackles; defensive end Tom Blake, who made 3.0 sacks among his 32 tackles, and defensive tackles Jess Ward, a junior, and Brian Price, a sophomore, who started 11 games between them. In addition, senior tackle Brigham Harwell, who started 12 games in 2006 but missed all but two games last season due to injury, returns to the line.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK

The Bruin quarterback position features three players who started games a year ago - two redshirt seniors and a redshirt junior, plus a redshirt freshman and a junior college transfer.

Redshirt senior Ben Olson (6-4, 235) won the job last Spring and started five of the first six games (he missed one due to a concussion) before being sidelined with a partial tear of the left LCL. He returned late in the year, playing the second half against Oregon and a couple of late series versus USC. He was unable to play in the bowl game.

Olson, who possesses excellent arm strength, appeared in four full games and parts of three others. He completed 71 of 147 passes (just four of 15 in the parts of two games following his injury) for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He threw for 286 yards and five touchdowns at Stanford, a season-high 290 yards at Utah and 220 yards and two touchdowns at Oregon State. As a sophomore, he started the first five games before being sidelined by injury. He totaled 822 yards passing on the year and threw for five scores while completing 63.7 percent of his passes. In the 2006 opener, he threw for a career-best 318 yards against Utah.

Redshirt senior Patrick Cowan (6-5, 218) also started five games a year ago as well as the final eight games of the 2006 season. In fact, the five games in which he started were the only games in which he played due to a left hamstring injury in Fall camp, a partial tear of his right MCL in his first game of the year (Washington), a concussion and slight collapse of the right lung at Arizona and a left knee injury late in the USC game. In his season debut, he led the Bruins to a win over Washington but injured his knee in that contest. Four weeks later, he returned to the lineup and led the Bruins to a win over No. 10 California. He also started at Washington State and Arizona, when injuries sidelined him until the USC game four weeks later. On the year, he completed 72 of 135 passes for 696 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

A mobile performer with good escapability, Cowan passed for 1,782 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore, including a career-high 329 yards versus California. In the win over USC, he threw for 114 yards and ran for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt junior Osaar Rasshan (6-4, 214) appeared in four games a year ago, starting three. A great all-around athlete, he made his debut as a quarterback at Arizona following Cowan's injury and rallied the Bruins from 20 points down to within a touchdown. He started the next two games, playing the entire contest in a 24-20 loss to Arizona State and the first half in the victory over Oregon. He also started and played three of the first five series in the Las Vegas Bowl. On the year, he completed 17 of 45 passes for 259 yards and netted 109 rushing yards on 30 attempts.

Redshirt freshman Chris Forcier (6-3, 185) will also try to insert himself into the quarterback competition this Spring. Forcier made several trips last year due to injuries at the position. In 2006, he earned prep All-America honors while throwing for over 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns at San Diego's St. Augustine High School.

Redshirt junior Kevin Craft (6-5, 210), a transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, will enroll for Spring Quarter and participate in Spring drills. Last year at Mt. SAC, he was the California Offensive Player of the Year, completing 313 for 511 passes (61.3%) for 4,231 yards, 44 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also played in nine games at San Diego State in 2006.

In the fall, prep All-American NICK CRISSMAN (6-3, 193) will join the competition. He was ranked among the nation's top prep quarterbacks while throwing for 1,922 yards at Edison High in Huntington Beach, CA. UCLA also signed KEVIN PRINCE (6-2, 185) from Crespi High in Encino, CA. Prince will either enroll at UCLA next winter or when he returns from his Mormon Mission.

RUNNING BACK

The Bruins return four of their top five tailbacks from a season ago, plus the starting fullback. A year ago, the Bruins averaged over 150 yards rushing per game.

True senior Kahlil Bell (6-0, 206) was on his way to an outstanding season before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee. He will not participate in Spring ball but could be ready for camp in August. Possessing a nice combination of power and speed, Bell had already rushed for a team-high 795 yards and five touchdowns when he was injured in the first quarter of the year's eighth game (Washington State). His average of 99.4 yards per game would have ranked fifth in the Pac-10 if he had played enough games. Bell rushed for 195 yards versus Stanford, 142 versus California, 109 against Washington and already had 67 on four attempts when he was injured at Washington State. He also made 13 receptions out of the backfield. He started five games on the year.

True junior Chane Moline (6-1, 236) ranked third on the squad with his 196 rushing yards. Moline appeared in 11 games, starting once, and did his best work in short yardage situations. He figures to compete for playing time at tailback but could also see time at fullback.

True junior Christian Ramirez (6-3, 211) will also get a long look at the tailback spot. He made the move from safety in Fall camp and saw limited action, rushing for 98 yards on 19 attempts (5.2 average). Ramirez, who possesses good speed and a long stride, gained 55 yards on five attempts at Stanford and 26 yards on four carries in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Redshirt junior Craig Sheppard (6-1, 193) made some key contributions a year ago and will also compete for playing time. A walk-on who rejoined the team in 2007, he rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 28 attempts. He ran for 56 yards and a touchdown versus Arizona State and added 49 yards and the game's only touchdown in the win over No. 9 Oregon.

Redshirt freshman Raymond Carter (5-11, 202) will also figure into the tailback race. He was expected to earn playing time in 2007 but tore the ACL in his right knee on the second day of Fall camp. He will be limited to non-contact drills during Spring Practice and is expected to be ready for Fall camp. In his final two seasons at Crenshaw High, Carter rushed for over 2,500 yards.

Redshirt junior Trevor Theriot (6-0, 233) filled the role of starting fullback a year ago and did a good job, especially as a blocker. He also made three receptions and played well on special teams.

Several other players will compete for playing time during Spring Practice, including walk-on redshirt junior tailback Ryen Carew (5-10, 214) who saw some special teams action in 2006; redshirt sophomore fullback Dylan Rush (6-4, 238), who moved from defense last Spring; redshirt sophomore fullback Tobi Umodu (6-0, 235), is making the move from defense; and walk-on redshirt sophomore tailback Justin Fareed (5-10, 199).

Four very talented freshmen will join the competition in Fall camp. Those includes DERRICK COLEMAN (6-0, 218) from Troy High in Fullerton, CA; AUNDRE DEAN (6-1, 210) from Katy (TX) High; JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN (5-10, 181) from Dorsey High in Los Angeles; and MILTON KNOX (5-9, 200) from Birmingham High in Lake Balboa, CA. All four earned prep All-America honors and give the Bruins a bright future in this area.

WIDE RECEIVER

This position returns several players with experience but the coaches will be looking for one of them to become a breakout performer to take the place of departed Brandon Breazell and Joe Cowan.

Redshirt sophomore Dominique Johnson (6-3, 208) developed well throughout the season and finished the year as the team's third-leading receiver. A tall target with good hands, he started twice and made 25 receptions for 322 yards and tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns. He made at least three receptions on five occasions.

True junior Terrence Austin (5-10, 160) gained valuable experience in 2007. He earned more playing time as the season progressed and finished the year with 17 receptions for 248 yards. Austin also averaged 10.0 yards on 31 punt returns with a long of 68 yards.

The receiving corps is bolstered by the return of redshirt senior Marcus Everett (6-1, 212). He figured to be one of the team's top receivers a year ago but an ankle sprain against Utah allowed him to appear in just one more game and he qualified for a medical substitute year of eligibility. He did make 10 receptions before being sidelined for the year. As a junior, he started eight games and led the wide receivers with 31 receptions for a career-best 450 yards and 14.5 average. He led the team with five receiving touchdowns and tied for the overall team lead with five touchdowns. He also led the team in receiving yardage and first downs by reception (21). Everett enters his senior year with a career total of 82 receptions, ranking No. 23 on that list.

Redshirt junior Gavin Ketchum (6-5, 209) also qualified for a medical substitute year of eligibility due to a stress fracture suffered in the year's fourth game (he had five catches at the time of his injury) that developed into a full fracture. In 2006, he appeared in all 13 games last season at wide receiver or on special teams and caught five passes for 57 yards. Ketchum played in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2005 and made three starts while totaling 11 catches.

Redshirt senior Ryan Graves (6-1, 167) and redshirt junior Jamil Turner (6-1, 204) both played in reserve roles a year ago and should complete for playing time in 2008. Graves made three catches on the year while Turner made one. True freshman Taylor Embree (6-4, 195), who enrolled at UCLA in January 2008 after greyshirting last season, will also figure in the competition for playing time.

Redshirt freshmen walk-ons Ben Bruneau (6-0, 204), Ryal Jagd (6-3, 187) and David Martini (6-1, 197) will also complete during Spring Practice.

Freshmen JERRY JOHNSON (6-3, 187) from Venice (CA) High, ANTWON MOUTRA (6-3, 187) from Culver City (CA) High and NELSON ROSARIO (6-4, 202) from El Camino High in Oceanside, CA will attempt to inject themselves into the rotation in Fall camp. All three possess great size and speed for the position.

TIGHT END

The Bruins welcome back their top tight end from a year ago, plus one from 2006, giving them quality competition at the position. The top two returnees have over 60 career receptions between them.

True senior Logan Paulsen (6-6, 252) enjoyed a solid season a year ago. He started every game, blocked well and made 12 receptions for 144 yards, including a 36-yard catch-and-run late in the Las Vegas Bowl. As a sophomore, Paulsen started 12 games and ranked fourth on the team with his 27 receptions. He had 331 receiving yards (third on the squad) and averaged 12.3 yards per reception. He made five catches in the season-opener versus Utah and had four receptions each in games against California and USC.

Redshirt junior Ryan Moya (6-4, 229) returns after redshirting last year due to injury and personal reasons. As a sophomore in 2006 Moya saw action in six games, starting three, before being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a fractured left fibula at Oregon. Prior to his injury, he made 12 catches for 126 yards (10.5 average). He had four catches versus Stanford and Arizona. In 2005, Moya made 10 catches as a freshman for 153 yards and two scores.

Redshirt freshman Nate Chandler (6-3, 265), who earned prep All-America honors while ranking among the nation's top five tight ends in 2006, will also get a long look from the coaching staff. He has the size and speed to make a contribution this season.

Several other players will attempt to impress the coaching staff during Spring Practice. Redshirt junior Adam Heater (6-5, 246) spent most of last year recovering from a shoulder injury and has the size to be a good blocker. Redshirt senior walk-on Travis Martin (6-3, 242) also contributed on special teams and in multiple tight end formations during the latter half of last season. Redshirt freshman walk-on Glenn Rauscher (6-3, 223) will also compete at this position.

Freshman CORY HARKEY (6-4, 240) from Chino Hills (CA) High will join the tight end battle in August.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The offensive line returns three players who started at least six games a year ago. The key to this unit will be finding two other starters and some key reserves from among the veterans and several youngsters who need to show they are ready to contribute during Spring Practice.

Redshirt junior right tackle Aleksey Lanis (6-5, 316) started six games, including the final five, a year ago, mostly on the left side. As a redshirt freshman in 2006, he started 12 of 13 games at left tackle. Lanis possesses quick feet and can play either tackle spot. In 2006, he was selected second-team Freshman All-America.

True junior tackle Micah Kia (6-6, 298) started eight games at left tackle a year ago and should be ready to become one of the better tackles in the Pac-10. He possesses outstanding physical tools and should benefit greatly from playing on a regular basis in 2007.

Redshirt senior Micah Reed (6-4, 316) will get the first look at center. A good athlete who earned a scholarship last Fall, Reed started the final eight games of last season at guard, the final seven on the right side, and did a fine job. Depending upon the development of other players, he could wind up back at guard.

Redshirt junior Nick Ekbatani (6-4, 290), who redshirted last year after seeing spot duty at guard in 2006 following his transfer from L.A. Harbor College, and redshirt sophomore Darius Savage (6-4, 325), who appeared in every game last year on special teams (kickoff return unit), will open Spring as the frontrunners for the two guard positions.

Redshirt senior Scott Glicksberg (6-4, 269), who has spent the last two seasons adding depth in multiple tight end formations and on special teams, will compete for playing time at center, while redshirt senior Aaron Meyer (6-1, 296), who saw action at center in 2006 but did not appear in a game last year, will get a look at a guard spot.

Five redshirt sophomores -- tackle Sean Sheller (6-5, 282), guards Sonny Tevaga (6-3, 337), Brandon Bennett (6-4, 319) and Jake Dean (6-4, 286) and center Andy Keane (6-2, 284) - plus redshirt freshman tackle Mike Harris (6-5, 311) will all receive plenty of opportunities to earn playing time during Spring Practice.

Two freshmen - JEFF BACA (6-4, 280), from Mission Viejo (CA) High, and CONNOR BRADFORD (6-5, 270), from Palmdale (CA) High - will join the Bruins in August.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Redshirt senior Brigham Harwell (6-2, 292) returns to action after being sidelined for the final 11 games of the 2007 campaign and receiving a medical substitute year of eligibility. He brings added experience to the interior of the Bruin defense. He enjoyed a solid campaign in 2006, ranking fourth on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss, totaling 31 tackles for the year and starting 12 of 13 games. Harwell had a huge game in the victory over Oregon State, making a career-tying six tackles, including four solos.

True sophomore Brian Price (6-1, 297), who possesses the size, strength and speed to be an impact performer, will open Spring drills as the frontrunner at the tackle spot opposite Harwell. Despite playing in just the final 10 games of the year, he finished with 7.0 tackles for loss among his 14 stops. A second-team Freshman All-American, he started five of the last six games a year ago.

Redshirt senior Tom Blake (6-4, 259), who started eight games a year ago, owns the most starts among the defensive end candidates. In his first year of action after transferring from UC Davis, he had 3.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss among his 32 stops. He also recovered four fumbles. He is the leader on the right side entering Spring Practice.

Redshirt junior Korey Bosworth (6-1, 233) was effective in his first season as a defensive end. Appearing in all 13 games, including three starts at left end, he totaled 34 tackles, including 2.0 sacks and 8.5 for loss, second-only to Reggie Carter among returnees. He is the frontrunner on the left side.

Redshirt junior Jess Ward (6-4, 280) and true junior Jerzy Siewierski (6-2, 285) will both compete for playing time at the tackle positions. Ward started six games in place of Harwell last year before being sidelined with a knee injury that required surgery. He will not participate in Spring drills and could be cleared for contact prior to the start of the season. He made 18 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, in 2007. Siewierski also appeared in every game a year ago, gaining valuable experience, and made 13 tackles, including 3.5 for loss.

True senior tackle Chase Moline (6-2, 252) will participate in Spring Practice after missing the final eight games due to head, neck and back problems. He played in just five contests and will use the Spring to gauge whether he can play this season. Redshirt sophomore Jeff Miller (6-5, 259) and redshirt senior Nathaniel Skaggs (6-4, 300) will also compete for playing time at tackle. Miller did not see action last season and was sidelined part of the year with a sports hernia. Skaggs has shifted to defensive tackle, his original position after spending the last few years on the offensive line. He appeared in every game last year as a special teams performer.

Redshirt junior Chinonso Anyanwu (6-4, 216) will compete with Bosworth for the left end position. Anyanwu, who possesses good pass-rushing skills, played in the final five games of the year (six overall) and recorded a sack among his two tackles.

Two redshirt sophomores -- David Carter (6-5, 257) and Reginald Stokes (6-3, 250) - and redshirt freshman Justin Edison (6-3, 244) will battle for playing time with Blake at right end. Carter played in three games a year ago and made three stops, including one sack. Stokes and Edison did not have the opportunity to play in 2007 but figure to take advantage of their opportunity during Spring Practice.

Two talented freshman defensive ends - DAMIEN HOLMES (6-3, 250) from Colton (CA) High and DATONE JONES (6-5, 250) from Compton (CA) High - will add to the competition in Fall camp. Both were rated among the nation's top 10 prep players at their respective positions.

LINEBACKER

UCLA returns two starters at linebacker but loses middle linebacker Christian Taylor, who called the defensive signals for the past two years.

Redshirt junior Reggie Carter (6-1, 221) is ready to become one of the top linebackers in the Pac-10 Conference. This Spring he will move from the weak side to the middle, taking Taylor's place as the heart of the defense. Strong, fast and aggressive, Carter made 62 tackles a year ago, including 12.0 for loss - third on the squad and first among returnees. He made a career-high 10 tackles in the opener at Stanford and made at least five tackles in eight of his 13 games. He even underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during a bye week and did not miss a game.

True senior Kyle Bosworth (6-1, 222) found a home at strongside linebacker, starting seven of the final 10 games. Strong at the point of attack, he made 74 tackles to rank fifth on the squad and second only to Alterraun Verner among returnees. He recorded 19 tackles at Washington State, the most by a Bruin in almost two decades, and added 12 versus BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and eight at Oregon State.

Redshirt junior Joshua Edwards (6-1, 232) will miss Spring Practice due to a fractured right cheekbone but is considered the frontrunner at weakside linebacker. In his first season of action, he saw limited action on defense, playing mostly on special teams, but demonstrated good speed and athletic ability. He finished with nine tackles.

True senior John Hale (6-4, 220) will compete with Bosworth for playing time on the strong side. Most of his action was on special teams (he did play 31 defensive snaps in the win over California) a year ago and he finished with 12 tackles. In his first two seasons, he started a total of 10 games and made 36 tackles. Redshirt sophomore Mike Schmitt (6-0, 224), who redshirted last year after transferring from junior college, should add depth at the position.

Redshirt freshman Steve Sloan (6-3, 225) will compete for playing time in the middle. Sloan did not see action during his first season in the program but demonstrated a linebacker's toughness during practice and should get a long look during Spring drills. Two walk-ons, redshirt freshman Jordan Woolbright (6-1, 217) and redshirt sophomore Michael Lutu (6-1, 233), could add depth at that spot.

One of the prize members of the 2007 recruiting class, redshirt freshman Akeem Ayers (6-2, 231) will compete with Edwards for the starting job at weakside linebacker. Ayers is a fine all-around athlete who has impressed with his potential. He will receive plenty of opportunities to demonstrate what he can accomplish during Spring Practice. Redshirt junior Shawn Oatis (6-0, 225), who missed the final seven games of the 2007 season due to a small fracture in his neck, is expected to return for Spring Practice and compete at this spot.

Three talented freshmen -- DONOVAN CARTER (6-1, 227) from Birmingham High in Lake Balboa, CA, PATRICK LARIMORE (6-3, 230) from Hart High in Newhall, CA, and SEAN WESTGATE (5-11, 205) from Oak Park (CA) High -- will join the linebacker corps in August.

SECONDARY

The Bruins return one starter plus several other players with game experience in the secondary. Establishing a starting quartet plus developing some depth are the goals for Spring Practice.

True junior right cornerback Alterraun Verner (5-11, 176) is now the leader of the secondary. A first-team Freshman All-American in 2006, he started 11 of 13 games a year ago, including the final nine. His 75 tackles ranked fourth on the squad and first among 2008 returnees. In addition, he ranked 11th nationally in passes defensed - four interceptions and 15 passes broken up. He has made six interceptions during his two seasons and has returned three of them for touchdowns, including one last year to clinch the win over California. He made at least six tackles in seven of his 13 games.

Redshirt senior cornerback Michael Norris (5-9, 177) enters Spring drills as the frontrunner at left cornerback. He appeared in every game a year ago, starting once in a dime package, and played both at cornerback and on special teams, making 13 tackles. He missed the entire 2006 season due to a knee injury but played in all 12 games in 2005 on special teams and in the nickel package, making 18 tackles.

True senior Bret Lockett (6-2, 204) leads the competition at strong safety. A year ago, he saw action in nickel packages and on special teams (he started the final game) and demonstrated the ability to play the position well in 2008. On the year, he made 12 tackles and broke up two passes.

Redshirt junior Aaron Ware (6-0, 193) enters Spring Practice as the frontrunner at free safety. A fine overall athlete, he has excelled on special teams the past two seasons. Last year, he made seven tackles and also caused a fumble on a kickoff return.

Redshirt freshman Courtney Viney (5-8, 153), who possesses fine cover skills, flashed his potential on the scout team a year ago. Redshirt senior Chris Meadows (5-11, 175), who moved from the secondary to wide receiver midway through last season, is back on defense. He made five tackles on special teams in his first season with the team. Viney and Meadows will compete for playing time at the cornerback positions.

Redshirt freshman Glenn Love (6-4, 207) will compete for the free safety position. He has great size and speed and is fully recovered from hip issues that sidelined him a year ago.

Four non-scholarship performers figure to add depth at the safety positions. Redshirt senior strong safety Matt Culver (6-2, 201) and redshirt sophomore Garrett Rubio (5-9, 186) will compete for playing time at strong safety while redshirt sophomore Michael Ciaccio (6-0, 173) and redshirt junior Mike Angelo (6-1, 191) will line up at free safety.

A quartet of prep All-Americans will join the secondary competition in Fall camp. ANTHONY DYE (5-11, 185) from Santiago High in Corona, CA, AARON HESTER (6-0, 180) from Dominguez High in Compton, CA, RAHIM MOORE (6-2, 185) from Dorsey High in Los Angeles, CA, and E.J. WOODS (6-1, 205) from Crespi High in Encino, CA, form one of the top groups of defensive backs to ever enter UCLA in the same class and have a bright future as individuals and as a unit.

SPECIALISTS

Redshirt senior Aaron Perez (6-4, 229) returns for his senior year as one of the better punters in the nation and in UCLA history. In 2007, he averaged 42.3 yards per kick, ranking second in the Pac-10 and 29th nationally.UCLA also ranked 16th in the nation in net punting 37.7 yards. His 91 punts tied UCLA's single-season record and his 3,853 yards were just 55 shy of another mark. His career average of 41.78 ranks 10th on the UCLA career list. In addition, he also did a fine job in his first season as the holder on UCLA's place kicks.

Redshirt sophomore Kai Forbath (6-0, 197) quickly established himself as one of the top place kickers in the nation in his first season of competition. Forbath converted 25 of 30 field goal attempts, including 25 of 27 in one stretch. His 25 field goals set a UCLA and Pac-10 freshman record and rank No. 3 on UCLA's single-season list while his 105 points were the most ever by a Bruin freshman and eighth (tied) on that UCLA single-season list. Nationally, he ranked third (tied) in field goals per game (1.92) and sixth (tied) in field goal percentage (.833) among players with at least 1.50 field goals per game.

Redshirt junior Jimmy Rotstein (5-11, 174) averaged just under 60 yards on his 68 kickoffs in his first season as a regular and figures to improve upon that average in 2008. True sophomore Christian Yount (6-1, 250) did an outstanding job in his first year as the team's long snapper and figures to be a fixture for the next few years, Walkon redshirt sophomore P.J. Tobyansen (5-11, 219) adds depth at long snapper and redshirt sophomore walkon Danny Rees (6-3, 175) figures to again serve as the primary backup to Perez.

In the Fall, prep All-America kicker JEFF LOCKE (6-1, 185) from Mountain Ridge High in Glendale, AZ, will join the Bruins.

True junior Terrence Austin (5-10, 160) averaged 10.0 yards on 31 punt returns a year ago and enters Spring drills as the veteran in the returns department. Redshirt senior Ryan Graves (6-1, 167) averaged 7.9 yards on eight punt returns in 2006. Both of them, as well as several other candidates, will audition for the punt and kickoff return roles during the Spring.


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