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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLADance Disassembled: Seeing Beyond the Curtain

UCLA football balances fall camp with karaoke to alleviate practice tension

Redshirt senior defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight, entering his sixth collegiate season and his second in Westwood, was part of a UCLA football pass defense that allowed the second-most passing yards per game a season ago. (Kristin Pischel/Daily Bruin)

By Jared Tay

Aug. 11, 2021 4:55 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article’s photo caption misspelled Qwuantrezz Knight’s name.

This post was updated Aug. 15 at 10:06 p.m.

College football fall camp can be a taxing few weeks. It is generally filled with early morning practices, walk-throughs and multiple team and personnel meetings.

The student-athletes are asked to arrive on campus early, cutting their summer vacations short, only to line up with over 100 of their teammates in the summer heat while they mentally and physically prepare for week one of the fall quarter.

But for UCLA football’s fall camp, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for the players to look forward to at the end of every day.

Following the last team meeting of the day, redshirt senior defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight said the Bruins host their own karaoke session on the UCLA Spaulding Field. With a microphone in hand and speakers blaring in the background, Knight posted a video of himself Monday singing along to Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” with his teammates singing along behind him.

“It’s hard to think about how hard camp is when you’re having so much fun,” Knight said. “It goes back to building bonds with your brothers.”

Each position group will have a chance to perform in front of the entire team, while some of the coaches are slated to perform toward the end of fall camp. So far, Knight said the best performances he’s seen were from the tight ends – who sang a Michael Jackson song – along with his own group.

“Hopefully we get coach (Chip) Kelly to go,” Knight said. “That’s who I’m looking forward to going – coach Kelly and defensive coordinator (Jerry) Azzinaro.”

Knight said the karaoke performances were just one way the veteran players were trying to infuse a bit of fun into fall camp, imparting on the younger players that having fun on the field is just as vital as learning the schemes, plays and assignments.

Knight is returning for his second season with UCLA after transferring from Kent State in the 2020 offseason. From 2016 to 2018, Knight made 27 appearances for Maryland.

Through just over two weeks of fall camp, many players have praised Knight for his experience, having played in three different programs, as well as the leadership and energy he brings to UCLA’s defensive backfield.

“He’s just an elite dude,” said senior defensive back Stephan Blaylock. “We need somebody like him to help our game again. Just seeing him in the six to seven games we had last year was big, and to get another whole season out of him is just a big thing for us.”

But this type of veteran mentality has also seeped into the more serious side of football, and for a Bruin pass defense that was ranked No. 11 in the Pac-12 in terms of passing yards allowed per game, the veteran members of the secondary said they are in the best position this year to change those numbers.

Personnel Update

The Bruins are still without their senior signal-caller, but there was another quarterback that did return to the practice field Wednesday.

UCLA Athletics confirmed Dorian Thompson-Robinson is still unavailable, but redshirt freshman quarterback Parker McQuarrie returned from his absence after missing camp for the entirety of last week.

As usual, Kelly did not elaborate on Thompson-Robinson’s status, nor did he give any other updates for other players.

“If they’re not here today, they’re unavailable,” Kelly said to the media before Wednesday’s practice.

Senior wide receiver Chase Cota was running routes on the far side of the field Wednesday. At previous practices, the media had seen Cota only on the stationary bikes, which are sometimes used if players are nursing minor injuries.

About halfway through the 30 minutes of the allotted time for the media to observe practice, some members of the press observed freshman defensive lineman Quintin Somerville remove his helmet and approach a trainer, only to retreat into the weight room.

Kelly also said his entire team has been vaccinated against COVID-19 except for those exempted from UCLA’s requirement via waivers.

According to a story posted on Thompson-Robinson’s Instagram profile, he has been given the green light to return to the practice field Friday. Thompson-Robinson wasn’t seen on the practice field beginning Aug. 3 – if he is indeed absent because of coronavirus-related protocol, his 10-day quarantine period would be over Friday.

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Jared Tay | Sports senior staff
Tay is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the men's basketball beat. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. Tay was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
Tay is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the men's basketball beat. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. Tay was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
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