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COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : UCLA : Heavier Milliner Works on Receiving

It’s a skill he still is trying to acquire, and his playing time this season probably depends on it. James Milliner rushed for an average of 10.2 yards and scored 33 touchdowns as a high school senior in Virginia.

"(But) I never caught a pass,” he said.

It showed last season and he is working to get better as a receiver. With an increased emphasis on throwing to backs this season, he has to.

“I’m jumping into passing situations when I can,” Milliner said. “The thing I have to do is try not to think about it. When I drop a ball, it’s mental. I’m thinking about running with it instead of about catching it.

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“I just have to work to make it natural.”

Milliner is up to 225 pounds after starting at fullback at 205 last season as a redshirt freshman.

He shares time with Daron Washington, a converted tailback who still spends some time at that position. Washington is pushing for the No. 1 fullback job.

“He probably catches the ball better than I do,” said Milliner, knowing that he has to change that to keep his spot in the lineup.

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Milliner caught passes for 13 and six yards from Wayne Cook in Saturday’s scrimmage and, perhaps more important, did not drop any.

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Put assistant coach Wayne Nunnely at the head of the line of those who will be happy to see the end of twice-daily practice sessions on Wednesday. That’s because he has had two more weeks of them than the rest of the UCLA players and staff.

Nunnely spent those two weeks in what he calls “an internship,” working with the defensive line at the New Orleans Saints’ training camp.

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Tailback Sharmon Shah, still wearing a red jersey marking him as injured, is back running plays with the offense. . . . Sophomore defensive lineman Travis Kirschke has gained about 20 pounds, to 275, and although his primary position is still nose guard, he is also spending time at both tackle positions. . . . Biggest of the defensive linemen: Sale Isaia, at 315 pounds, five more than the biggest offensive lineman, tackle Jonathan Ogden.

Senior punter Darren Schager has a protege in junior college product Justin Sogoian of Orange Coast. The plan is to redshirt Sogoian. . . . It’s anticipated that 8,000 Tennessee fans will be at the Rose Bowl for the season opener against UCLA on Sept. 3. . . . The Bruins plan one more scrimmage, on Thursday at Spaulding Field on campus. Saturday’s 5 p.m. Rose Bowl workout will be open to the public.


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