SAN BERNARDINO – His lengthy strides made the streak route toward the end zone appear easy, effortless even in comparison to other UCLA wideouts.
With the defender on his heels in the afternoon’s seven-on-seven drill, and his height advantage, wide receiver Alex Van Dyke needed only to pull the over-the-top, floated ball in. But it sailed straight through his outstretched hands. A picture-perfect drop.
The drop was one of a few for the freshman during Tuesday’s second training camp practice. That much didn’t stop fellow wideout Eldridge Massington from labeling him “The next Randy Moss.”
Van Dyke, a 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound and consensus four-star recruit, seems to have much of the learning curve to scale. And likely, much of the depth chart as well. The Bruins are deep at wide receiver, with as many as six to eight guys in line for playing time ahead of him.
So far, Van Dyke looks to be taking the climb head-on.
“I’m hard on myself. I’ve got a lot to learn from,” he said. “But being with (wide receivers) coach (Eric Yarber) and the team really pushes me.”
One of the first things he did upon joining the team was introduce himself to his quarterback, redshirt junior Brett Hundley. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Van Dyke to try and pick his brain.
In team meetings, Van Dyke sticks the course.
“(I’ve noticed) his desire to know everything, to get this offense, to get it down as quickly as he can,” said sophomore wide receiver Thomas Duarte of Van Dyke in those meetings.
As Van Dyke said, once he’s learned the plays, the coaches will begin to start working him into the offense. Perhaps, he can squeeze his 6-foot-4-inch frame into a few goal-line packages come game time.
By his philosophy, the quest for knowledge has an outreach, an added incentive if you will.
“With knowledge, comes confidence,” he said.
Massington, a redshirt freshman, had a few highlights on the day, catching a well-thrown deep ball, and just missing out on another, as it slipped through his fingers and hit the ground, despite his diving attempt.
The speedy wideout, who said he ran a 4:41 40-yard dash this offseason, appears to be developing into the Bruins’ de facto deep threat in his second year with the program after he sat out last season while recovering from an ACL injury.
“I’m more confident … I know the plays, I’m comfortable with the system,” he said.
After being tackled to the ground hard yesterday and leaving practice with an injured shoulder, freshman wide receiver Mossi Johnson appears to be doing better than expected, according to coach Jim Mora.
“(The doctors) said it could be a couple weeks before he is full-go again, that means full contact,” Mora said. “But today he is much improved … and his motion is almost back to normal.”
Mora said the doctors told him it was a “second degree AC sprain.”
Freshman linebacker Zach Whitley didn’t participate in team drills Tuesday due to muscle cramps. It was the second day in a row Whitley experienced cramps, going down midway through yesterday’s practice.