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UCLA NOTES

They Should Feel Right at Home

October 05, 2002|Steve Henson

CORVALLIS, Ore. — For fullback J.D. Groves, it's a first trip home.

For tackle Bryce Bohlander, it's just another trip home.

The two Bruins are from McNary High in Keizer, Ore., a small town near Salem and not too far from Oregon State.

Groves, a freshman, is excited about playing in front of relatives and friends, many of whom bought Oregon State season tickets with the UCLA game in mind.

"They wanted to secure a spot in the stadium," he said.

Bohlander, a senior, has already experienced the so-called thrill of homecoming several times.

"Everybody already hates me [in Oregon]," he deadpanned. "So what's the difference? It's just another game."

Bohlander was big man on the McNary campus when Groves was a freshman struggling to make the varsity.

"He made an impression on me then, and he did so again during the recruiting process," Groves said. "He was my host during my trip to UCLA."

When he returned to McNary, Groves got an earful from another Bohlander. Bryce's father, John, is the school principal.

"A degree from UCLA means more than one from Oregon or Oregon State," Groves said.

Like Bohlander before him, Groves took heat from locals who wanted him to play for an Oregon school. But he is looking forward to his return for two reasons--he is getting substantial playing time and UCLA does not return to Corvallis the next three years.

Bohlander, however, merely shrugs.

"The Rose Bowl, that's my home crowd," he said.

*

Second-string receivers Ryan Smith and Junior Taylor will play more, whittling time from third-stringers Garrett Lepisto and Jon Dubravac.

Starters Craig Bragg and Tab Perry frequently took plays off in the four nonconference games, partly because they are on special teams and partly to give Lepisto and Dubravac snaps.

But Smith is a proven receiver who had a touchdown catch against Oklahoma State and Taylor has displayed big-play ability.

"Ryan Smith is a reliable guy and Junior Taylor is learning more of the offense," Coach Bob Toledo said.

*

Oregon State has won seven in a row and 19 of 21 at Reser Stadium. The Beavers' only loss there since 1999 came against UCLA last season, 38-7.

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