SAN JOSE — Bruin receiver Craig Bragg grew up in the shadow of Spartan Stadium, dreaming that the ovations he could hear from blocks away on Saturdays someday would be for him.
Eventually, though, he became so good he didn't even consider San Jose State, instead going to UCLA and becoming the team's top receiver. And, yes, he has heard his share of ovations.
Now he's home, and his return should boost Silicon Valley Classic attendance by a couple of hundred friends and relatives. He can't wait to display the form that has resulted in 68 receptions for 994 yards this season, boosting him to fourth on UCLA's career lists with 152 catches and 2,291 yards.
But he's keeping his enthusiasm under wraps. There's rarely a boast from Bragg.
"Fresno State is an in-state rival, and they are too good for me to say too much beforehand," he said. "They have a lot of team speed, and they play aggressively."
He must have a surprise in store for his hometown fans, though.
"We put in a few wrinkles," he said.
Other Bruin players might not have been as tight-lipped as Bragg. At least that's what Fresno State's Brian Morris claims.
At home in Moreno Valley over Christmas, the senior defensive end watched interviews with UCLA players on the local news.
"They were doing a lot of talking on TV," Morris told the Fresno Bee. "They were saying we were all UCLA rejects and all the players here wanted to be down there. They like to talk, I guess. Keep doing it."
Then Morris talked his own smack.
"We don't feel like we're underdogs at all," he said.
Coach Karl Dorrell shed a bit more light on tailback Tyler Ebell's shoulder injury, which the sophomore tailback refuses to talk about, saying the injury occurred "midway through the season and got progressively worse."
Ebell, a sophomore, is with the team but will not play tonight. He shared the starting job with freshman Maurice Drew, and each back rushed for slightly more than 500 yards. As a freshman, Ebell gained 994 yards.
As expected, Justin Hickman, a freshman defensive lineman from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA, bringing the number of junior college recruits to six.