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UCLA REPORT

Forbath shows a lot of leg in drills

August 17, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Justin Medlock. Justin Medlock. Justin Medlock.

Think UCLA kicker Kai Forbath has heard the name a few times?

"Oh, pretty much in every conversation I have had in the last few months," said Forbath, smiling.

The compare and contrast was inevitable, and probably will be made for a while.

Medlock was an All-American kicker and a fifth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. He made 28 of 32 field goals, seven from 40 yards or longer. While Forbath isn't required to fill those shoes, he must at least size up well.

"His range is pretty good," Coach Karl Dorrell said. "I'm not going to say a number yet, because I don't want to upset him in terms of what I think it is. But he has the potential to have a bigger range than Justin and you know how good his range was."

That is being put to the test, with distractions included.

Forbath stood on the Bruins' practice field Wednesday. The entire team -- minus the field goal unit -- stood around him screaming, some spilling water from bottles onto the turf. Forbath, a redshirt freshman, methodically drilled the ball through the uprights. He made another kick under the lights later that night during the Bruins' second practice.

It has been that way most days during training camp -- Forbath made three of four field goals Thursday -- and was a considerable improvement from spring practice, when cars in the parking structure next to the field seemed at risk every time Forbath swung his leg.

Asked if Forbath is better than he was in spring, Dorrell laughed, then said, "Oh yeah. . . . He's worked pretty hard and consulted with some kicking camps. He looks like he's much improved."

Forbath feels ready to assume the load.

"Right now, I feel my range is inside 55 [yards]" Forbath said. "I don't think it's final. I think I can go back. But I feel comfortable inside 55 right now."

Which would be considered Medlock territory.

"I don't like to think about it too much," Forbath said. "I just try to prove to myself and everyone else, that I'm just as good as him, or going to be just as good as him."

With defensive tackle Brian Price waiting for the NCAA Clearinghouse to give its approval and tailback Raymond Carter waiting for knee surgery, Courtney Viney has become the freshman most likely to contribute this season.

Viney, a cornerback from Fresno Edison, has made a quick impression on coaches and teammates, who have nicknamed him "Flea."

"Aaron Ware came up with that and it fits perfectly," cornerback Rodney Van said. "He's like a little flea jumping all around, making a play here, making a play there, getting on your nerves."

Viney has done that, at least to receivers.

"Everyone has tried to pick on him in the red zone during practice, but he looks like a guy who can help us this year," Dorrell said. "He doesn't act like a rookie. He acts like he belongs."

Viney's problem is the Bruins are deep in the secondary, where starting cornerbacks Van and Trey Brown are backed up by Mike Norris and Alterraun Verner.

Linebacker Christian Taylor missed the second half of practice Thursday because of a mildly sprained ankle. . . . Defensive tackle Kevin Brown (contusion, right leg) participated in the full-contact scrimmage, but guard Shannon Tevaga (shoulder and wrist injuries) and fullback Michael Pitre (left knee) went through limited drills.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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