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UCLA freshman standout Myles Jack says he is just following orders

The linebacker, an outstanding defensive player all season, gets even more media attention after playing a little running back. He says he is playing his part just like everyone else on the team.

November 19, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has emerged as an offensive weapon after rushing for five touchdowns over two games for the Bruins.
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has emerged as an offensive weapon after rushing… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Freshman linebacker Myles Jack resided under the media spotlight again Tuesday. A Sports Illustrated writer dropped by to chat, and Jack did a lengthy interview with Fox to be used before the Arizona State game Saturday.

Jack has been an outstanding defensive player all season. His interception with 16 seconds left allowed UCLA to hold on to beat Utah, 34-27.

But playing a little running back got everyone to perk up.

"It's definitely a little overwhelming," Jack said. "This is a team effort. The offensive line is blocking great because everyone knows you're running the ball third and one. It's great to give the team attention. But it's not about me."

Besides, Jack said, all he is doing is following orders.

"I really have just one play," Jack said. "You see me go into the game, I ask Brett [Hundley] where I go and Brett says, 'Myles, go right' and I go, 'OK.' I look over to the marker and see that it is third and one and focus on getting that yard."

It's been more than a series of one-yard gains. Jack has 179 yards in 19 carries the last two games. He has scored five touchdowns.

Jack, though, remains grounded. Teammates see to that, particularly fellow freshman Eddie Vanderdoes.

"Eddie gives me a hard time," Jack said. "It's all love."

A back back?

Coach Jim Mora seemed to indicate running back Jordon James would be ready to play against Arizona State.

James was the nation's fifth-leading rusher when he suffered an ankle injury against Utah on Oct. 3. He missed three games, then re-injured the ankle against Colorado three weeks ago. He did not play the last two games.

James walked into practice Tuesday limp free.

"Where he is on Saturday will kind of determine how much he plays and what he can do," Mora said. "I think he has crept a lot closer to being ready to go."

James has 471 yards rushing. His return would take some of the load off Paul Perkins, who had 86 yards in 21 carries against Washington on Friday.

"Paul has become a very good pass protector, he catches the ball well, he's a slashing runner," Mora said. "I don't know if he is physically mature enough to be the guy to carry the ball 25, 28 times a game. He is going to add muscle and add endurance and will be that kind of guy. But for a redshirt freshman, he has gotten steadily better."

Perkins has 476 yards rushing.

The status of running backs Damien Thigpen (ankle) and Steven Manfro (ankle) remains to be seen.

The more, the merrier, Mora said.

"Even if a guy is hot and is running the ball well, you got to be able to give him a break," Mora said. "That's running backs today. It's not like defense where you're going in as the hitter. You're the hittee and there are 11 guys trying to hit you. That takes a toll on your body."

Senioritis

Defensive end Brandon Williams and linebacker Aramide Olaniyan will not return for a fifth season. Fullback Luke Gane, a walk-on, will also forgo his last year of eligibility. All are juniors who sat out a season as a redshirt.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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