UCLA football, Dorian Thompson-Robinson set aim on 2022 season at Spring Showcase
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson readies to throw during UCLA football’s Spring Showcase on Saturday at Drake Stadium. Thompson-Robinson has been wearing a 360º camera on his helmet during spring camp to better prepare for the upcoming season. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)
By Jon Christon
April 24, 2022 11:16 p.m.
The arrows flew across the Intramural Field.
Highlighting pinpoint accuracy, the Bruin archers loaded up their bows, let the projectiles fly and hit the bullseye time and again. And time and again, a slew of archers would make the trek across the field to recover their arrows.
Back and forth, rinse and repeat.
Some 50 yards away, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the blue and gold were also showing off their accuracy in front of the Bruin faithful, repeating an annual tradition that was lost the last two seasons because of the pandemic.
For the soon-to-be fifth-year signal-caller – who committed to UCLA five years ago to the day Saturday – the tradition meant a little more this time around.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit, it’s been a minute since I’ve been here,’” Thompson-Robinson said. “It’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed every second.”
Wrapping up his fourth and final spring with UCLA football, Thompson-Robinson spearheaded the Bruins’ Spring Showcase at Drake Stadium with aerial assaults and cross-field scampers – just like the archers competing in the West Region Collegiate Target Regionals on the opposite fields. The football event marked the first public offseason workout for the Bruins since 2019, with the 2020 spring camp canceled because of COVID-19 and last season’s showcase closed to the public.
Thompson-Robinson said he enjoyed working on his craft on a spring day on campus.
“It was super fun – super fun to be able to get out here in front of people and have the music blasting and new faces around,” Thompson-Robinson said.
While other programs traditionally end spring camp with a spring game, UCLA opted for the practicelike showcase event. Saturday also did not mark the end of spring practices as it typically does, as the Bruins still have three more practices to go before they officially usher in the summer off-period.
As his team prepares to get back at it Tuesday, coach Chip Kelly said Saturday’s showcase was nothing special for the Bruins.
“Today (Saturday) was practice opportunity 12,” Kelly said. “Maybe more people made it out that it’s a really big deal. It’s just No. 12 for us.”
Like it does in a typical practice, UCLA started its day with individual workouts and then positional work that had the players breaking off into groups with their respective coaches.
With a number of departing offseason transfers – including linebacker Caleb Johnson and defensive lineman Odua Isibor in the past month – and coaching changes, linebacker Bo Calvert said the positional practice opportunities are especially important in the offseason.
“This spring has been really good to get all those guys together and be able to work as a group and see how everybody flows together,” Calvert said. “It’s nice to get out here in front of some fans, some new scenery and just be able to test things out.”
The Bruins then shifted to situational offense versus defense drills on the south side of the field, where Kelly said the team worked on red zone, two-minute and 7-on-7 opportunities.
Thompson-Robinson led the first-team offense in the 7-on-7 drills, showing off his archerylike precision with a number of new targets. The list includes transfer wide receivers Jake Bobo and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, who transferred from Duke and UCF, respectively, in the offseason.
“Guys like Bobo and Titus, they’ve really come along really well,” Thompson-Robinson said. “The receiver room is looking really good. Obviously, they have a lot to learn with some new faces in there, but … I think we’ll be alright.”
While no score was recorded throughout the day and contact was kept to a minimum, Thompson-Robinson added that it was nice to compete against a live defense once again.
“(We) got to get after the defense a little bit, (and the) defense got after us,” Thompson-Robinson said. “It was fun.”
UCLA will hit the gridiron again Tuesday and Thursday at Wasserman Football Center before wrapping up spring camp April 30. The Bruins will then return to the practice field in August ahead of their early-September start of the 2022 campaign.
Contributing reports from assistant Sports editors Bryan Palmero and Sam Settleman.