Thompson-Robinson returns to fall camp, lineup boasts 8 new transfers
Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed eight straight fall camp sessions for UCLA football before returning to the practice field Friday. Thompson-Robinson was listed as unavailable beginning Aug. 3. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin staff)
Aug. 14, 2021 12:58 p.m.
This post was updated Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.
The Bruins are inching closer to the end of fall camp.
Just two weeks out from its first game of the season, UCLA football has completed 12 of its 16 total fall camp practices before it transitions into preparing for its season opener against Hawai’i on Aug. 28.
With most of fall ball in the books, this year’s new roster additions have had ample time to get used to their new home, including transfer students.
The Bruins picked up eight transfers in the offseason compared to five in 2020 and three in 2019, including five from the defensive side of the ball and three from the offensive side.
One of the defensive reinforcements joining the blue and gold this year, redshirt senior linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath, said he feels comfortable with his new team as well as the progress they’ve made since the spring adjusting to the wear and tear of preseason training.
“If you just look at the progression that we made from spring ball to now, there was a time during spring ball where people started getting tired, and we’ve matured a lot as a team,” Genmark Heath said. “We’re just going to keep going out there, and then having the brotherhood and the love that we have for each other kind of gets us going.”
The Stockholm native added that he has specific goals for the 2021-2022 season, which motivate him to continue working through fall camp.
“We’re excited, (and) we want to win games,” Genmark Heath said. “We want to go undefeated, win the Pac-12 championship, so that’s kind of what motivates me at least and a lot of the guys, so we’re going to do whatever we got to do to make that dream happen.”
Another transfer on the roster, senior linebacker Mitchell Agude is already used to UCLA after starting five games last year but will still have some adjusting to do with a new role.
With former defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa drafted to the NFL in April, Agude will be asked to rush the quarterback more so than a year ago. He said filling the pass-rushing shoes, as well as pushing through the final stages of fall camp, involves using the same mindset he learned in his two seasons at Riverside City College.
“We just keep (Odighizuwa’s) mindset that he gave us last year, just staying elite,” Agude said. “Every person in the D-line is just elite, that’s just the mindset everyone’s using. We just attack every day like it’s our last day of playing football, so that’s just the mindset we take every day, and we just got to keep on pushing that mindset.”
Return of the quarterback
Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson made his return to practice after an extended hiatus that began Aug. 3. The reason behind Thomson-Robinson’s absence remains unknown other than he was listed as unavailable by the team.
According to his teammates, the senior returned to the field Friday morning looking like he hadn’t missed a beat.
“Dorian looked really good today,” said senior tight end Michael Ezeike. “It looked like he didn’t even miss any practices. I think Dorian, he’s a good player, (and) he’s a very well-coached, fundamentally sound individual. He looked like he has always looked.”
While Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been physically present on the field, he was still able to lead the team from afar during his absence.
Ezeike – who is one of four upperclassmen tight ends on the roster – said Thompson-Robinson’s signature mantra has inspired him during the competition for playing time at his position.
“It all comes down to competition,” Ezeike said. “We’re not a ‘me’ team, we’re a ‘we’ team. That’s a famous quote that Dorian believes in. I’m also a big fan of that. It comes down to who can compete, and that’s what we got to do every day is compete.”
Redshirt junior tight end Greg Dulcich said it was good to have the Bruins’ signal-caller back on the field following the time off.
“Just great having him, great chemistry with him out there, and I think the guys underneath him did a really good job filling his role and just rolling with the punches,” Dulcich said.