While UCLA’s punter remains a JUGS machine (meaning there is no scholarship punter on the team’s roster this spring) until punter Sean Covington of St. Petersburg (FL) High School arrives during fall camp, the UCLA coaching staff has a wealth of players to choose from in both kick and punt return scenarios.
Coach Jim Mora told the media that now is a time to evaluate, not worry, with respect to specialists to punt returners, indicating the pieces are there on the roster.
UCLA’s punt return game was a revolving door at times last season, but rising redshirt sophomore running back Steven Manfro, rising redshirt senior wide receiver Shaquelle Evans and rising sophomore safety Randall Goforth combined for the vast majority of the team’s 33 returns.
Kick return duties last season were shared primarily by rising redshirt senior running back Damien Thigpen and rising sophomore wide receiver Devin Fuller. Thigpen is still recovering from a torn ACL but has been jogging in practice and could be ready for the start of the season, though no specific timetable has been given for his return.
- Rising redshirt senior wide receiver Shaquelle Evans missed Wednesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms.
- Mora said rising redshirt junior safety Dietrich Riley sustained a labrum injury in Saturday’s practice and should be back “in a week or two.”
- Rising redshirt junior Y receiver John Young has been limited by swelling in his knee this spring. Mora said Young’s knee injuries have been persisting since since Mora’s arrival at UCLA last year.