UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow saw Malcolm Jones in practice during training camp and thought that he was a good player.
Then Chow saw Jones in a game and that opinion was upgraded.
"He has that natural feel running with the football," Chow said. "The way he makes his reads and runs, he has that natural feel for what is going on."
Jones, a freshman from Westlake Village Oaks Christian, will get more chances to show that this week as the Bruins are expected to be without Derrick Coleman (concussion, strained neck). Jones and Johnathan Franklin probably will split the time at running back.
But it wasn't only the injury that has Jones more involved.
The 6-foot, 223-pound Jones had 21 yards in three carries in the opener against Kansas State. Last week against Stanford, he had 52 yards in seven carries, running through and around Cardinal players.
"Malcolm has certainly been a guy who has grown every day," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He has done enough the first two games to merit more chances."
Jones was one of the jewels of the Bruins' recruiting class, but he was banged up during training camp with an ankle injury during a scrimmage and a thigh bruise. He was healthy for the first time last week and it showed against Stanford.
"I learned the first two games that you've got to make your reads and make them quick," Jones said.
Jones had runs of 20 and 14 yards against Stanford, as well as another 20-yard run erased by a penalty late in the game.
"In high school, I was one of those guys who can wear down the defense toward the end of the game," Jones said. "They get tired of tackling me and I start breaking off longer runs."
Wide receiver Jerry Johnson was a more prominent player during practice Tuesday, making some impressive receptions.
It was a welcome sight … especially to Johnson.
"I've been staying in my playbook and envisioning making spectacular catches like today," said Johnson, a sophomore who played in two games last season.
"I've been saying since my redshirt year that I need to play. There have been times where I felt like giving up, but that isn't in my blood. So I just kept on pushing."
Instead of just saying he needed to play more, Johnson went about showing he deserves to play more.
Johnson said he increased his efforts to become more "in tune with myself as a football player and do what the coaches asked me to do."
It has made an impression.
"Some guys develop differently. Right now he is maturing a little bit and understanding the offense," wide receivers coach Reggie Moore said. "He already had the talent. It's just the confidence thing that's starting to come around."
Starting quarterback Kevin Prince, saddled with nagging injuries since the second day of training camp, went through the full practice.
"That was the first time I did that all year," Prince said. "When you get a full practice you don't feel like you're missing things. You get into a better rhythm."
F-back Christian Ramirez did not practice because of a hamstring injury. … F-back Anthony Barr (knee), tackle Micah Kia (ankle) and wide receiver Ricky Marvray (back) sat out the end of practice, but Neuheisel said all would be fine.