UCLA running back Jordon James, taking a handoff from quarterback Brett… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
UCLA has two areas with big questions when the Bruins open spring practice Tuesday.
Who will replace running back Johnathan Franklin?
Who will play in the secondary?
The Bruins have lost their entire starting secondary. Cornerback Aaron Hester, cornerback Sheldon Price and safety Andrew Abbott graduated. Mora announced Tuesday that safety Tevin McDonald has been released from the team after violating team policy.
“We’re light at cornerback and we’re really light at safety,” said Coach Jim Mora, who was 9-5 in his first season. “Reinforcements are coming in the fall, but they’re not here yet.”
There is talent already here, but key players have health issues.
Ishmael Adams, who saw time as a freshman last season, is coming off shoulder surgery. Cornerback Marcus Rios, another contributor as a freshman, spent time in the hospital with a severe sinus problem during the off-season.
Adams will do everything “except contact,” Mora said. Rios is still in the recovery phase.
“We need to bring him back slowly,” Mora said. “He lost a lot of weight.”
Safety Dietrich Riley, who underwent neck surgery last spring, has been cleared to practice.
“We’re excited to get him back and we’re excited to get him involved,” Mora said.
Safeties Randall Goforth and Stan McKay saw considerable playing time last season.
Replacing Franklin and the 1,700 yards he gained last season is a key offensive issue.
Mora said he didn’t expect one player to fill that void. Jordon James would enter spring at the top of the depth chart, but Paul Perkins will get a long look. Steven Manfro, still recovering from a shoulder injury, will be limited in spring. Damien Thigpen suffered a knee injury last season and won’t be available until the summer at the earliest.
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