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UCLA's Devin Lucien making the plays without any fanfare

At spring practice, Bruins receiver never passed up a chance to give reporters a shout-out. But now he's all business, even after a great catch.

August 09, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA wide receiver Devin Lucien has been working hard in practice to draw the attention of his coaches.
UCLA wide receiver Devin Lucien has been working hard in practice to draw… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

You couldn't miss UCLA receiver Devin Lucien during spring practice.

He wouldn't let you. Lucien would make a quality catch, then run by people — including reporters — shouting, "I'm coming for that spot," among other things.

Lucien was a Velcro-like receiver Thursday, including making two catches in which he leaped over defensive backs. But he remained mum.

"During spring, I was doing all that because I wanted attention," said Lucien, who was limited to seven games in 2012 because of a broken clavicle. "I wanted everyone to know what I was doing. I'm not going to be so assertive vocally about it."

That seemed clear Thursday. Lucien schooled freshman cornerbacks John Johnson and Priest Willis, jumping over each to make a catch. But the closest thing to demonstrative behavior after one of those catches was a fist bump with Coach Jim Mora, which Mora instigated.

"It seems every day he goes up and makes an exciting, unbelievable, acrobatic catch," Mora said. "What we're looking for out of Devin is consistency. The highlight-reel catches are great, but that has to be accompanied by consistent play."

Lucien built on that Friday. He again went over, and past, defensive backs during one-on-one drills, including making a leaping catch over Anthony Jefferson.

Again, he holstered any thoughts of attracting unnecessary attention.

In the spring, he was focused on everything else that was going on, Lucien said. "What the coaches were thinking. What [receiver Jordan] Payton was doing. Now I only think about what I'm doing, just play my game."

The change in style comes at a time when the Bruins seem flush at receiver. Besides senior Shaquelle Evans and returners Devin Fuller and Payton, there are three freshmen — Eldridge Massington, Darren Andrews and Jalen Ortiz.

"I'm not going to worry about things that don't matter," Lucien said.

No freshman jitters

"I don't get 'butterflies,'" Sean Covington, UCLA's freshman punter, said.

What Covington claims immunity to are those cold-sweat, night-terror nerves that can accompany a first college game. When he lines up to punt against Nevada at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 31, he says it will be just another football moment.

"I guess I have a stiff stomach," Covington said.

He has more going for him than just that. Covington averaged 46.5 yards on punts and made eight of 11 field goals as a senior at St. Petersburg (Fla.) High last fall.

Covington is replacing Jeff Locke, one of the nation's top punters the last four years. Locke was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. He spent time tutoring Covington this summer before he left.

"He helped me a lot with my form and muscle memory," Covington said. "I know there are a lot of expectations for me."

Not too many, special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "We don't expect him to be Jeff Locke. Sean's a true freshman. That's telling, isn't it?"

Covington had his first chance to show off his leg Friday. He got off several long kicks, and one shank.

"It's a lot to expect him to be the next Jeff Locke, but he has a great leg," Mora said. "The thing Sean has to work on is the operational side, getting the snap and getting the kick off.

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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