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UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA safety Tahaan Goodman makes quick progress

The freshman received plenty of playing time in the Bruins' victory over Nevada last weekend and is intent on becoming a starter.

September 05, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • Jim Mora's 2013 recruiting class included five defensive backs, including Tahaan Goodman out of Rancho Cucamonga.
Jim Mora's 2013 recruiting class included five defensive backs,… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

Tahaan Goodman doesn't seem the type to wait for things to happen.

Goodman, a freshman, may parlay that attitude into a starting safety spot at some point, possibly in the next few UCLA games.

"He's the cream that is rising to the top," Bruins defensive back coach Demetrice Martin said. "I'm excited to see how far and how fast we can push him to get to where he needs to be."

Goodman, who played at Rancho Cucamonga, is one of five defensive backs in the 2013 recruiting class. He received a lion's share of playing time in a 58-20 victory over Nevada on Saturday.

"I'm not satisfied yet," Goodman said. "I want to come out and start. I need to do what I need to with the opportunities I get."

Goodman's size (6 feet 2, 189 pounds) and speed made him one of the top safeties last year. But there are freshman hurdles to clear.

"Usually, they're the best athletes in high school," Martin said. "When they get to this level, the quarterbacks they are facing are totally different. Now they're facing a guy who is throwing the ball on time with different velocities. They have to use their eyes and technique to set them free."

At safety, "You have to know more parts of the defense and make calls," Martin said.

Goodman was teamed with sophomore Randall Goforth against Nevada and had solid moments.

"It a lot easier than practice," Goodman said. "Practice is at such a high tempo. When you get in the game, it's a little slower."

Full(er) throttle

The most impressive play by a UCLA receiver Saturday didn't count.

Sophomore Devin Fuller ran a crossing route, sending a Nevada defender on a where's-Waldo search. He snagged a pass from quarterback Brett Hundley and sprinted to the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.

It was called back because of a penalty.

No worries. Freshman Jalen Ortiz caught a 19-yard pass on the next play and Jordon James then burst through the line for a 26-yard touchdown run.

"You can't really say anything about it, but it hurt," said Fuller, who came to UCLA as a quarterback. "But Jalen got his first [career] catch and J.J. scored on the next play."

It did, though, underscore the type of player Fuller is becoming.

"He showed some of his speed on that play," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "He has come light years from last year. He was a scout team quarterback when we moved him. It's been fun to watch."

Weekend plans

This is a bye week for the Bruins, not a weekend off.

UCLA coaches will be at high school games recruiting. That 58-20 victory in their pockets doesn't hurt.

"People notice, especially skill players," Coach Jim Mora said. "They see 58 points and say, 'Hey, how'd they get that?'"

UCLA maintenance crews, meanwhile, began replacing the natural grass at Spaulding Field. The grass was reduced to sand in some spots by a fungus. The new turf, imported from Texas, should be ready by Monday's practice.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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