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Youth Movement Could Begin Early

September 07, 1998|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Three freshmen will play and four others might see action Saturday in the Bruins' opener against Texas, and a junior college transfer, offensive lineman James Ghezzi, should get considerable playing time as a reserve.

The recruiting class rated as the one of best in the nation by many has developed as UCLA had hoped, even ahead of schedule in a couple instances. But the Bruins are hoping to delay the future, preferring to redshirt many of those who could play in 1998 in favor of more significant contributions in the future.

"I'm excited," Coach Bob Toledo said. "I think a great majority of them will help the program in the future. But we don't need them to play just to play. I don't want them to play a couple plays."

Which--barring injury--would cancel the option to redshirt. This is the breakdown entering the Texas game:

* Tailback DeShaun Foster. He will play.

* Defensive lineman Ken Kocher. He will play at some point. Whether it is against Texas depends on the condition of a sprained and bruised ankle that Kocher had not been able to run on until three days ago.

* Linebacker Robert Thomas. He will play.

* Receiver Jon Dubravac. A possibility, which is a good sign. Entering fall practice, UCLA expected that he would redshirt, but impressive showings boosted his stock.

* Defensive back Julius Williams. Much like Dubravac, his contributions are expected to be needed this season.

* Offensive linemen Blake Worley and Mike Safer. Toledo would love to be able to redshirt both because the line is a strength. If no one gets injured and Josh Webb makes a contribution at tackle after moving over from the defensive line, and if Ghezzi is a capable backup at center, guard and tackle, Safer and Worley could be held out.


The Bruins had Saturday and Sunday off after practicing 14 consecutive days, sometimes twice a day. They begin a game-week routine this week to prepare for the Longhorns.

"It's kind of a little reward," Toledo said. "They're doing good and are relatively healthy."

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