The notebook in which UCLA wide receiver Devin Lucien jots his thoughts carried a different message recently.
"I always write notes to myself, I have a huge notebook," Lucien said. "The note for spring was, 'Prove everything to yourself; don't worry about proving anything to anyone else.'"
This is a new Lucien, who will be a junior this fall. The yakking, something that was as much his game as his speed and sure hands, has stopped. There seems a more focused purpose to his demeanor.
That was clear in Thursday's practice. Lucien made three leaping catches in the end zone during one-on-one drills, going over a defensive back each time.
In the past, this would have required running commentary. Instead, Lucien jogged to the back of the line each time.
"It's about not caring about what people think," Lucien said. "Going into last season, all I wanted to do was start. I was caring about what everyone thought about me. It was frustrating not doing what I knew I could do."
This season, he said, "Instead of verbalizing why it is that I'm good, I'm just going to go out there and do it."
His different approach has been noticed.
"He's not a big-time talker now," receivers coach Eric Yarber said. "He's going to let his play do the talking this year. That started at the end of last year."
Lucien's talent has always been obvious — he doesn't so much run as glide. But his frustration has been clear too.
He had nine receptions for 134 yards through the first eight games of 2013. After going back-to-back games without a reception, Lucien did what so many young players do without thinking. He complained on his Twitter site. Although he quickly took it down, his feelings made the rounds online.
It was a learning moment.
"Coach Yarbs and my teammates got me through it," Lucien said.
Lucien closed strong. He had 10 receptions for 205 yards in the last five games. He had two touchdown catches, one for 42 yards and the other for 40.
The Bruins have depth at wide receiver, but they also have a hole. Shaquelle Evans had 47 receptions for 709 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior last season.
Lucien could be that guy.
"We've gone two practices and I haven't yelled at him yet," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone joked. "That's progress."
Mazzone added about Lucien: "He's explosive. I'd like to see him keep putting good practices together. Some of the lights are starting to go on."
Out, but upbeat
Defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes will miss spring practice because of a broken bone in his right foot.
"It could be worse," Vanderdoes said. "It could have been in the fall."
Vanderdoes was one of UCLA's top freshmen last season, finishing with 39 tackles. He broke his fifth metatarsal two weeks before spring practice and required surgery to have a pin inserted to help the bone heal.
"It was really a freak thing," Vanderdoes said. "We were doing an agility drill and when I stepped over a bag. I must have put all my weight on my foot. It wasn't painful, but my foot felt really numb. I tried to do another drill, but it felt really weird."
UCLA will be without linebacker Aaron Wallace and running back Aaron Porter this spring. Neither is enrolled for the spring quarter. Their status will be re-evaluated. Both are believed to be working through academic issues. … Tempers were evident Thursday, with three scuffles that required Coach Jim Mora to halt practice and talk with the team.
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