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UCLA football preview: wide receivers

Carroll_500 

The plan for UCLA’s passing game is to gain yards in “chunks,” a word both Coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow have used.

The name that is being dropped often in that plan is true freshman Randall Carroll (pictured above).

The Bruins have a good group of receivers, from veteran Terrence Austin to the gazelle-like Nelson Rosario to the sticky-fingered Taylor Embree. All three will be the prominent wide receivers this season.

But it’s Carroll, and his where-did-he-go speed, who could give the passing game a quick-strike element that would have to be respected.

Carroll, who played at Los Angeles Cathedral High, will have to show he’s ready. At 5 feet 10 and 184 pounds, he could use a little more meat. His savvy level needs to grow.

All that will come. What Carroll already possesses is afterburner speed, as he was a two-time California state champion in the 100 and 200 meters.

Senior linebacker Reggie Carter has seen that speed on display during seven-on-seven workouts this month.

“When the ball is in the air, he goes and gets it,” Carter said. “There have been some passes where I thought, ‘No way anyone gets that,’ and he takes off and gets there.”

That element could make an already solid group lethal.

Austin, who also returns punts and kickoffs, had 53 receptions, the most by a Bruins wide receiver since 2003.

Embree, a sophomore, rarely drops anything that hits his hands. He had 40 receptions in 2008 and led the team with 531 yards receiving.

Rosario, who is 6 feet 5 and possesses great leaping ability, was inconsistent as a freshman. But his raw ability has been refined, and he did lead the team by averaging 15.4 yards a reception.

There is more depth in senior Gavin Ketchum, a good possession receiver, and true freshman Ricky Marvray.

The problem? These guys are at the end of the passing game. The offensive line must protect and quarterback Kevin Prince must deliver the ball before this group can have an impact.

-- Chris Foster

 Saturday: quarterbacks

Sunday: running backs

Tuesday: tight ends

Photo credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

 
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