UCLA’s David Allen, Darius Bell embracing new opportunities
UCLA senior David Allen and junior Darius Bell completed yet another training camp Thursday morning. This time it was different.
Allen is the Bruins’ No. 1 fullback and Bell, a former quarterback, is among the Y-backs expected to play.
“You want these guys to have fun in what may be their last football experience,” Coach Jim Mora said.
Allen, a fullback at South Pasadena High, was a linebacker who would do anything to play. He tried out as a kicker when the Bruins had a need last season.
His main role was as cannon fodder on special teams, a testament to his physical willingness. That caught the eye of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who was looking for a fullback to pick up linebackers before they picked up UCLA quarterbacks.
Allen is the best blocker among the Bruins’ running backs and has demonstrated sure hands as a receiver.
“I have been a special-teams player my whole career here, and worked my tail off,” said Allen, who transferred from Tulane in 2009. “I have an opportunity and I’m excited about it.”
Allen received an extra treat this week. Mazzone put in a running play for him. Allen gained three hard yards.
“I said, ‘Coach, you definitely have to give me the ball in a game,’” Allen said.
Bell has already handled the ball in a game.
Brought in from City College of San Francisco to improve the quarterback depth, Bell replaced an injured Richard Brehaut against Washington in 2010. He threw three passes, the last of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, before suffering an injury.
“I really didn’t want that to be my lasting memory from college,” Bell said.
It shouldn’t. His receiving and blocking abilities gave him a shot as a receiver, where being a former quarterback has helped.
“Teams play a lot of zones, and I know zones like the back of my hand,” Bell said. “I had a lot of hopes when I got here. I disappointed myself and I disappointed my teammates. This is a chance to redeem myself.”
Back to Westwood
UCLA broke camp at Cal State San Bernardino after a light practice Thursday morning.
“I feel like we leave here a better team,” Mora said.
In need of some answers at positions.
“We have an idea on some of them. We have a quarterback,” said Mora, who named Brett Hundley the starter last week.
As for the rest, Mora said: “I think there are some positions where, in my mind, we’re pretty solid, and there are some where there is uncertainty.”
Mora said that he has identified 68 players who seem part of the solution.
“I have a good idea what they are and what their role will be in helping us win games this year,” Mora said.
He grows on you
Ryan Hofmeister, a 6-foot, 225-pound inside linebacker, seemed destined to be a name deep on the depth chart. Then Patrick Larimore took a medical retirement and Eric Kendricks was held out because of a sore hamstring.
That put Hofmeister on the field more in the last week.
Said Mora: “Every time you look at the film from practice, you go, ‘Wow, Ryan Hofmeister. Wow, there’s the Hoff. Wow, Ryan Hofmeister making another play.’ He’s one of those guys who creeps in there and sticks with you.”
Hofmeister suffered a strained hamstring Wednesday.
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