On a day when UCLA receivers seemed to be having their way, safety Jaleel Wadood stood out.
Wadood, whether it was individual drills and team drills, kept popping up to be the fly in the ointment. He intercepted two passes, gave a little extra pop when possible and had Coach Jim Mora shaking his head after practice.
“I noticed him today,” Mora said. “I noticed him the last two days.”
This was the player Mora saw at Bellflower St. John Bosco High two years ago. The catalyst is experience.
Wadood saw his playing time increased as a freshman last fall after safety Randall Goforth was lost for the season to a shoulder injury. He played in 12 games, starting seven, and finished fifth on the team in tackles.
“Practice is one thing, but playing in a game is such a different atmosphere,” Mora said. “It accelerates your learning curve. You see that out here now. He was all over the place, hitting guys making plays on the ball, playing with energy. There is a certainty to what he’s doing. He sees it and goes.”
UCLA receivers had a good day when Wadood wasn’t mucking things up. Jordan Payton, Devin Fuller and Thomas Duarte are known commodities, but Alex Van Dyke and Jordan Lasley showed marked improvement.
Lasley has become adept at creating space at the last moment. It allowed him to haul in a touchdown pass from Josh Rosen on a fade pattern for a touchdown. Van Dyke had a couple drops, but he also made eye-opening catches, including a 30-yard touchdown reception from Jerry Neuheisel.