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UCLA's Jordan Zumwalt is in the middle of things

Freshman gets a shot at middle linebacker after the injury to Patrick Larimore.

October 26, 2010|By Chris Foster

The rapid repair work that UCLA must do with its defense had freshman Jordan Zumwalt at middle linebacker Tuesday.

Zumwalt, months removed from Huntington Beach Edison High, spent the whole practice with the first team. Steve Sloan worked with the second team.

The Bruins are trying to find a replacement for Patrick Larimore, who is out at least three weeks because of a dislocated left shoulder.

"I have been meeting coach Coach Lea as much as I can, and getting help from all the players," Zumwalt said of linebackers coach Clark Lea. Still, he said, "I haven't been given anything yet. We're still competing [for the job]."

The middle linebacker spot carries a lot of responsibility, especially for a freshman. He has to run the defense on the field, making the calls as well as the checks before the snap.

But Lea said, "The signals are the least of our worries if he is out there. He understands the defense." Zumwalt must show he can handle that responsibility and make plays, Lea said.

The Bruins are looking for defensive answers after being outscored, 95-20, in the last two games.

Zumwalt prefers the middle linebacker spot. He was moved outside during training camp and has performed well in limited time during six games. He has one sack.

"I have been quietly paying attention to [middle linebacker] all along in case I got this shot," Zumwalt said. "And I did."

His personality will help.

"You have to run things and I'm a freshman coming out here trying to be the quarterback of the defense," Zumwalt said. "I'm a verbal guy and I have to be verbal. I've got to show them I know what I'm doing."

Really sorry

Both tackle Sean Sheller and wide receiver Ricky Marvray said Tuesday they regretted the incidents that led to their one-game suspensions. Both were suspended for violating team rules, with multiple sources saying they tested positive in a drug screening.

"It's unfortunate it got to this point, but it has to end," Marvray said. "It's something I have to learn from."

Said Sheller: "I'm sorry. There is nothing else to say."

Quick hits

Wide receiver Nelson Rosario (high ankle sprain) suited up, but did not participate beyond standing around. … Cornerback Sheldon Price (sprained knee) remained sidelined and appears unlikely to play Saturday against Arizona.

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