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UCLA FYI

Embree shows quick hands

August 29, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Wide receiver Taylor Embree remembers the tennis balls coming at him, and that split second it took to identify the small colored dots on them.

That is how he and his father, Kansas City Chiefs assistant Jon Embree, would play catch.

It explains a lot.

"He catches everything," Bruins quarterback Kevin Craft said.

Embree, a freshman, acquired that skill through "catch" sessions with his father, a former UCLA assistant.

"He'd throw the ball and I'd have to say the color, like 'black' or 'red' before you caught it," Taylor said. "And he'd throw pretty hard too. You'd have to look at them and catch one handed."

As a result, Embree developed concentration few can match. In practice this week, he reached around a defensive back with one hand to tip the ball in the air, then caught the pass on the other side of the defender.

Embree has been displaying that type of ability since enrolling early to participate in spring practice. Not even a shoulder injury has disrupted his performance.

"Am I amazed?" receivers coach Reggie Moore said when asked about Embree's ability. "Initially I was, but now it's almost expected. I'm at the point that if he doesn't make those great catches, then something is wrong."

Embree, along with fellow freshmen Nelson Rosario and Antwon Moutra, have raised the competition level at receiver, where they join senior Marcus Everett, junior Terrence Austin and sophomore Dominique Johnson.

"I think we're a lot deeper and much better skill-wise," Everett said. "We compare to any group in the nation, as well as the Pac-10. We have young guys who can make plays, and they're big and fast."

All three freshmen figure to play.

"I think we'll have five guys rotating," Moore said. "Everett, Johnson, Austin, Embree and, right now, Rosario. Moutra is on the cusp."

All you need is Love

Safety Glenn Love, who struggled early in training camp, has rallied the last couple of weeks and will be in the rotation, backing up freshman Rahim Moore and junior Aaron Ware against Tennessee on Monday.

"He's looked better," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "I told him the other day, 'I haven't heard your name being called lately. That means you must be doing your job.' "

Moore will start at free safety and Ware at strong safety. Love, a redshirt freshman, will sub at both spots.

What's in a name?

UCLA's Marc Dellins was named to the initial Doak Walker Award watch list. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Dellins is the university's sports information director.

A second release removed Dellins and added Bruins tailback Kahlil Bell.

Injury update

Center Kai Maiava, who is redshirting, suffered a torn meniscus and strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee during practice Tuesday. It will not require surgery. . . . Freshman quarterback Nick Crissman will undergo further tests on his injured right shoulder after an MRI exam revealed irregularities in his labrum. . . . Linebacker Steve Sloan was in a red "no-hit" jersey because of "a couple stingers," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. . . . Guard Scott Glicksberg was limited in practice because of an illness.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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SEASON OPENER

vs. No. 18 Tennessee

Monday at the Rose Bowl, 5 p.m., ESPN

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