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UCLA FOOTBALL

Darius Bell has a happy moment at quarterback

The receiver took a snap and rushed for a first down last weekend against Arizona. He says the play brings back memories.

November 13, 2013|By Chris Foster

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It was only a two-yard gain, but it meant a lot to UCLA receiver Darius Bell.

Bell, who came to UCLA as a quarterback, went in motion on a third-and-one play against Arizona on Saturday. He stopped under center, took the snap and threw himself forward.

It was Bell's first appearance in a quarterback role since 2010, and it worked out far better than his last.

"It felt good to be back under center," Bell said. "It brought up some good memories, and some bad memories. I got us a first down, that's all that matters."

Bell was rushed into his first college game at Washington three years ago after quarterback Richard Brehaut suffered a concussion. Bell threw three passes, the last of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

On Friday, UCLA plays Washington for the first time since that night.

"I really think I grew from that mistake," Bell said. "I learned more about football. I learned more about myself. Ultimately, I became a better player for it."

It's hard to predict how Bell might affect a game. He switched to receiver two years ago and has 12 receptions for 125 yards this season. Bell had a key 15-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Arizona.

But Bell is also a chess piece. On the same drive he ran for the first down, he was brought in motion to pick up a blitzing linebacker.

"He's a guy who has football savvy," receivers coach Eric Yarber said. "He does a great job on the perimeter blocking. We can play him as a hybrid fullback."

Bell is also the backup holder and long snapper.

"Having a quarterback background, he really understands coverage and where he can fit in," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. "And he has really good hands. He is doing a lot different things. I like it when he is on the field."

It keeps Bell busy.

"My dad told me, 'Man, they got you blocking, they got you running routes; you never did any of that growing up,'" Bell said. "I said, 'Pops, they tell me who to get and I go out there and get them.' "

Jack be nimble

Linebacker Myles Jack has had a whirlwind week after his 120 yards rushing as a running back against Arizona. His teammates are having fun with his celebrity status.

Jack was doing a lengthy radio interview after practice Tuesday when defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes walked by and struck the Heisman pose.

Meanwhile, Mora was doing what he's been doing all week: insisting Jack will remain a linebacker.

Mora ran down the status of the Bruins' battered running back corps: Steven Manfro (ankle) is out, the coach said. Damien Thigpen (ankle) will be a game-time decision. Jordon James (ankle) should be fine.

And Jack?

"He's a linebacker," Mora said. "He's a linebacker."

McDermott out

Conor McDermott, a redshirt freshman tackle, underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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