UCLA football using spring to retool, reshape roster – Daily News


The UCLA football program continued to mold its roster throughout the second week of spring practice with more shuffling from within.

Former walk-on Ethan Fernea has officially switched to running back after spending the last five years with the program as a receiver and special teams player.

Fernea finished the 2020 season with two carries in a 48-47 overtime loss against Stanford, but he added depth to the position for the Bruins, who were playing without starting running back Demetric Felton.

“We liked what he did during the training sessions leading up to that and how he played in the game,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s one of those unique guys and we felt like a spring (camp) at running back just adds to his versatility, but he can always transition back to receiver.”

Running back Brittain Brown took on most of the running back workload in the season finale, finishing the game with 219 yards on 29 carries.

Kelly believes Fernea can always move back to receiver if necessary because of how long he has been with the program.

Damian Sellers started five games at outside linebacker as a true freshman, but he has taken some reps at inside linebacker this spring.

“Damian is playing both,” Kelly said. “(He) is the one guy that we felt can do both. We’ll settle on probably after the spring where he fits and what’s the best piece of the puzzle for him.”

Junior receiver Michael Ezeike has joined the tight end room. He saw limited action at receiver and hasn’t recorded a catch since 2018, when he had 12 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The former Ontario Colony High standout played in seven games in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons as a special teams player and reserve receiver but did not record a catch.

“Mike just continued to grow,” Kelly said. “He’s about 245 pounds right now. He naturally grew into a tight end position.”

NEW COMMITMENT

Linebacker DeAndre Gill announced in an Instagram video that he had verbally committed to UCLA on Monday.

Gill, a three-star prospect according to 247sports, started his high school career as a receiver at Bear Creek in Stockton before moving to Kentwood High in Washington.

“I struggled figuring out what my position was,” Gill said in the video. “I love scoring touchdowns. Who doesn’t love the ball in their hand but I just love hitting people.

“Defense is always something that gets my heart pumping. I was meant to be a linebacker.”

He currently has offers from UCLA, Florida Atlantic and UNLV. His commitment is the fifth for the Bruins’ 2022 recruiting class.

ON THE MOVE

Former UCLA receiver Jaylen Erwin transferred to Houston, after entering the transfer portal during the offseason.

Erwin played in the first two games of the 2020 season but did not return for the final five games. Erwin was out for the longest period of time among the group of players, including starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who missed games due to COVID-19 contact tracing. It was never announced whether Erwin had the virus during the season.


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