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UCLA REPORT

Roenicke Making Most of Chance

November 27, 2002|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

So this is the way it works with walk-ons. Josh Roenicke understands that now.

He waited and waited, switched positions, then waited some more. He made the travel roster for a nonconference game, but got in for only six plays in mop-up time.

Next thing he knows he's on the field for 20 plays against USC in front of 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl. And his role could increase against Washington State on Dec. 7 because of injuries to three receivers.

"I'm making the most of it," he said. "I feel like everything is going in the right direction."

Roenicke, a redshirt freshman, tried out at quarterback last season, then was converted to receiver in the spring. In practice he runs good routes, isn't afraid to block and usually catches the ball.

Starting flanker Tab Perry is sidelined because of a sprained ankle, and backup receivers Ryan Smith (ankle) and Jon Dubravac (broken toes) also are out, bumping Roenicke to second string.

Craig Bragg is moving from split end to flanker and freshman Junior Taylor will start at split end. Sophomore Garrett Lepisto and Roenicke will play in three-receiver sets.

"He's a talented athlete and he's getting better all the time," Coach Bob Toledo said. "I'd venture to say that someday he'll have a scholarship."

Roenicke, a teammate of standout Bruin linebacker Spencer Havner at Nevada Union High, came to UCLA with an impressive pedigree but little respect.

He is the son of former major leaguer Gary Roenicke and the nephew of Angel third-base coach and former major leaguer Ron Roenicke.

During batting practice before World Series games, Ron talked as much about UCLA football and his nephew as he did about the Angel hitters.

"My family is helping pay my tuition, so [getting a scholarship] would be huge," Roenicke said. "They're really behind me."

*

The concussion suffered by Bragg against USC did not blunt his disappointment in the 52-21 loss.

"I was dizzy but I still knew they scored 52; I still saw the score," he said.

Bragg, the team's leading receiver, said he would be fine by next week. In fact, he would prefer to play Saturday rather than have a bye.

"You always want to get the bad taste out of your mouth after a loss like that and take it out on somebody else as soon as possible," he said.

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