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UCLA football wide receiver Jake Bobo looks ahead to Rose Bowl debut

UCLA football redshirt senior wide receiver Jake Bobo walks at practice. Bobo is set to make his Bruin debut Saturday at the Rose Bowl. (Jon Christon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Francis Moon

Aug. 30, 2022 11:56 a.m.

For some Bruins, Saturday will mark their first taste of playing in one of the most iconic college football stadiums in the country.

“It feels like I’ve been here five years waiting for this,” said redshirt senior wide receiver Jake Bobo.

Bobo is set to make his Rose Bowl debut in UCLA football’s matchup against Bowling Green on Saturday to commence the blue and gold’s 2022 season. After losing several top contributors on both offense and defense in the offseason to the NFL and other schools, coach Chip Kelly recruited 14 players – including Bobo – through the transfer portal.

Though it may look like just another home game for some, like redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, it will also be the beginning of a final go-around in collegiate football. Thompson-Robinson opted to return for a fifth year following the 2021 season, making him one of the longest-tenured players on the team.

With less than a week to go until gameday, Kelly said it is tough to tell whether the turnover will result in an improvement or drop-off from last year until the team is put into game action. However, the fifth-year UCLA coach added that the increased depth has made his team healthier than in years past leading into the season opener.

“It really doesn’t matter whether I say we’re 1,000% better than we were a year ago or if I say we’re not better than we were a year ago,” Kelly said. “You get to line up and play a team Saturday, and that’s where we’ll find out.”

Entering his fourth season as the full-time starter for the Bruins, Thompson-Robinson garnered career-bests last season with 3,018 total yards and 30 touchdowns and has a chance to climb higher up the UCLA record books in multiple categories. But after losing his top three targets in wide receivers Kyle Philips and Chase Cota and tight end Greg Dulcich, the quarterback will have to build on his success with a new receiving crew.

Lining up opposite Bobo on opening day will be redshirt junior wide receiver Kam Brown, with redshirt junior wide receiver Kazmeir Allen starting in the slot. Thompson-Robinson and his receivers have indicated that the transition has been relatively seamless thus far.

Despite having been teammates with Bobo for less than a calendar year, the quarterback said he hangs out with the wide receiver every day and has built a strong connection with the Duke transfer both on and off the field.

“To have a big guy to go out there and get the ball for me on a 50/50 ball every once in a while is definitely something I’m going to be excited about,” Thompson-Robinson said. “He’s definitely going to be one of my favorite man matchups just with the size on him.”

The game against Bowling Green will also be Bobo’s and fellow first-year Bruins’ introduction to the Pasadena summer heat.

Forecasts predict temperatures to reach around 102 degrees Fahrenheit in Pasadena during the Bruins’ season opener. While Kelly downplayed the factor as something both teams will have to deal with, Bobo said the weather will be something he will have to get used to.

“Coming from Durham has prepared me a little bit for 102,” Bobo said. “But until you’re in it, I’m not sure how you can prepare for it.”

But Bobo and the Bruins have their sights set on another potential first this season, as the wide receiver said the Bruins have bigger goals past Saturday’s game to earn UCLA’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 1999.

“You grow up watching Rose Bowl games, so it would be pretty cool to go up there and play in it,” Bobo said. “Hopefully we’ll be in the actual game come January.”

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Francis Moon | Sports senior staff
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
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