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UCLA expects much of Nelson Rosario

The wide receiver helped set up scores against Washington State with impressive catches. He impresses his coaches — but perplexes them too.

October 13, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA wide receiver Nelson Rosario, right, makes a catch in front of Washington State defensive back Damante Horton during Saturday's victory. Rosario has been outstanding at times this season, but UCLA's coaches want him to be more consistent.
UCLA wide receiver Nelson Rosario, right, makes a catch in front of Washington… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

You're Nelson Rosario and the world always seems to expect more … at least the world that revolves around UCLA football.

You're Rosario, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver who leads the team in receptions (26) and receiving yards (480) … yet it's not enough.

"Of course, it is annoying to hear," Rosario said. "It's not like I'm out there not trying. You make spectacular plays and people expect it every time the ball comes near you. No one is ever satisfied. But it is what it is."

Rosario, a senior, had three receptions for 120 yards against Washington State on Saturday, including a 41-yard, one-handed catch that set up the Bruins' first touchdown.

But what Rosario heard about at halftime was the ball he didn't get a hand on.

Rosario ran a fade in the end zone late in the half. The ball was thrown a little short and Damante Horton intercepted the pass. UCLA intern Marques Tuiasosopo intercepted Rosario before reaching the locker room at halftime and voiced a strong opinion. After that, Coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson made their feelings known in the locker room.

"They all got on me, told me that I shouldn't have let him get the ball," Rosario said. "I know I'm not supposed to let him catch the ball. I wasn't too worried about it."

But, he said, "I was mad."

Rosario took out his anger on the Cougars. He had an "oh, my" 58-yard catch that set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

His play had quarterback Kevin Prince offering his two cents.

"I freakin' love Nelson," Prince said. "I thought I led him a little too much and he turned on the jets. Nelson is a laid-back guy. We don't see the jets too much. He's got them. He turned it on and made great catch."

Coaches too were impressed … but remain perplexed.

"He has the ability to dominate and take over a game," said Johnson, who coaches the wide receivers. "I'm still waiting on that. I want him to be more consistent. I want him to make all the plays he can make."

The question is how much will be "enough." Neuheisel admits that Rosario gets judged a little differently.

"Nelson is such a gifted guy, you can't help but want for more," Neuheisel said. "It's almost unfair, because he does deliver. He delivers 98% more than the guys who are out there. Because of his enormous physical gifts, you just keep saying there is more in there."

Quick hits

Guard Alberto Cid left Tuesday's practice with shortness of breath. He missed a second day of practice Thursday while undergoing medical tests. … The biggest buzz at practice Thursday was when Carlos Lozano, a guard from East Los Angeles College, walked in. Lozano is a 6-foot-8, 360-pound sophomore who played at Montebello High. … Linebacker Glenn Love (hamstring injury) was more involved with the defense Tuesday.


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