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UCLA tackle Connor Bradford a spring success story

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Redshirt junior is given his chance by offensive line coach Bob Palcic, and results are encouraging.

April 19, 2011|By Eric Sondheimer

Bob Palcic, the crusty, always competitive UCLA offensive line coach, put his face close to the helmet of offensive tackle Connor Bradford on Tuesday and let loose an intense, loud verbal barrage during a spring practice blocking drill.

"I'd rather him be yelling at me than saying nothing at all," Bradford said.

Bradford, a 6-foot-5, 274-pound redshirt junior, is one of UCLA's spring success stories. He hasn't gotten into a game over the last two seasons and was listed on the roster last fall at 249 pounds. Because of injuries and a lack of depth on the line, Palcic has given Bradford the chance to show what he can do, and the results have been encouraging.

"He's a prime example why you can't give up on kids," Palcic said. "He hadn't shown me he was capable of playing here until this spring."

With good mobility but lacking experience and weight, Bradford has taken advantage of his spring opportunity to thrust himself into the line mix.

"I'm very impressed," running back Johnathan Franklin said. "He's definitely stepped up. He's understanding football now."

Said Bradford: "I feel I've done well. I still have a lot of learning and correcting to do. I just have to keep getting better."

As far as Palcic's getting so close to his helmet that he could feel his breath, Bradford said, "I was trying to hear what he was saying; I wasn't trying to smell it."

Spring game Saturday

UCLA's annual spring game is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. at Drake Stadium, with gates opening at 4 p.m.

Asked what fans should expect, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "I think they're going to see hopefully an explosive offense, one that's capable of making big plays. I think they'll see an energized defense, people who are flying around. A lot of youth and exuberance on that defense. I think they're going to walk away happy, at least I hope."

How long the scrimmage goes could depend on the thin offensive line's not getting any injuries. Center Kai Maiava is expected to play Saturday after sitting out several practices because of an ankle injury.

There will be a closed practice on Thursday with no hitting.

Recruit watch

One of UCLA's top targets, Westlake Village Oaks Christian cornerback Ishmael Adams, attended Tuesday's practice.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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