Coach Jim Mora knows about Eldridge Massington’s sore knees.
The rising redshirt senior wide receiver sat out the 2013 season while recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in his final year of high school.
For the football coach, it’s not always about getting Massington back onto the field – it’s about making sure he stays off it for rest and recovery.
“Eldridge is one of those young men who has a tendency to overtrain. He would leave the practice field and then go out and run on the track,” Mora said after spring practice April 15. “It was really counterproductive to his development.”
Mora said he thinks Massington has learned and is doing a good job keeping himself on the right track with his health.
Massington doesn’t always stay on it though.
“Now I go to the track when nobody’s looking,” Massington said. “They always think I overwork. I tell coach Mora that’s like my therapy – going out and working out.”
Massington, however, conceded he and the coaches agreed he would do more treatment and recovery work instead of intense workouts on off days.
A healthy Massington has been one of the standouts in spring training for Mora and new wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty.
“Massington has really had a nice camp so far,” Dougherty said.
In addition to Massington’s health, another player whose health will affect the receivers is rising junior quarterback Josh Rosen.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is last year, Josh was recovering most of the offseason, so we didn’t really get a chance to really throw a lot in the offseason,” Massington said. “We really just came out in camp and tried to get a chemistry going with him.”
In addition to more work with Rosen, Massington and his fellow receivers were able to practice three or four times a week, making at least 500 catches a week off the JUGS machine.
UCLA hasn’t treated its spring showcase like an actual game since 2014, but this year Mora is trying to put together two squads and have a blue vs. white game at Drake Stadium.
Mora added special teams may not be played at full speed, but – for the time being – he thinks his team is equipped to play a game safely.
“I see them understanding how to practice with a level of physicality without cheap shots,” Mora said. “The defensive backs understand that they’re not going to blow a receiver up just to blow him up.”
The biggest question mark right now is who goes on which team, but no matter who lands where, the game is happening.
“At this point, I can tell you that we are going to have a real spring game,” Mora said. “But it could change.”