YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Center McCloskey Is a Happy Camper

August 12, 2004|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

UCLA's first practice of the season had ended almost 30 minutes earlier, but center Mike McCloskey was sporting the biggest grin on the field.

His elation did not come from something funny he had heard or seen during the Bruins' 2 1/2 -hour workout. McCloskey was smiling because he was happy to be playing football again.

McCloskey sat out spring practice because of a lung ailment and the final seven games last season with a fractured left ankle.

Yet he's on the preseason "watch list" for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top center.

"It felt nice to be back out there with the O-line again," said McCloskey, who worked with the first team along with Eyoseph Efseaff, Paul Mociler, Steven Vieira and Ed Blanton.

"At first it was really awkward but things started to come back to me a lot quicker than I thought they would. I'm getting down the plays and I feel that in a week or two I will be back into my groove."

Under the direction of new offensive coordinator and line coach Tom Cable, the Bruins' linemen seemed more confident with their assignments, even though some were playing a new position.

"Cable is going to be the final piece to really get us going," McCloskey said. "Compared to last season, we're at another dimension as far as what we know going into the fall.

"It's a huge difference and it feels great to have a feel for the playbook and not just know it in your head but to be able to react to it from muscle memory."


Receiver Tab Perry, who is hoping to re-enroll at UCLA after taking several summer school courses, attended practice and said that he needed a passing grade in a recently completed history class before he could join the team.


Quarterback Drew Olson made several good throws, but his receivers dropped more than their share of passes.

Inside linebacker Wesley Walker, who is competing with Aaron Whittington and Tim Warfield for the starting position, made the defensive play of the day with a hit on freshman running back Ben Idemundia.

Right cornerback is another competitive position, with Marcus Cassel, Jebiaus Brown, Mil'Von James and Nnamdi Ohaeri battling for the starting nod.

Los Angeles Times Articles