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UCLA football players rave about practice field’s new turf

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UCLA nose guard Brandon Willis spoke for so many Bruins’ football players, past and present.

When asked whether he is sorry to see the old artificial turf at UCLA’s Spaulding Field be replaced, Willis said, “No, not really. It was time for that to go.”

The Bruins tested out the facilities’ new turf field Saturday, and the reviews were raves. Of course, anything would have been seen as better.

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It’s not just that the Bruins have new turf, which cost about $800,000, it’s that they are playing on an even surface for the first time in years. Several UCLA players have suffered injuries in non-contact situations in the recent seasons.

The Bruins lost quarterbacks Ben Olson (foot) and Patrick Cowan (knee) on back-to-back plays in 2008, with both injured turning around after taking a snap. Datone Jones, a senior defensive end, broke his foot running on the turf in 2010.

The new field was installed this summer.

“It’s so much more bouncier,” Willis said. “You can stick and go. I love the upgrades.”

UCLA also installed a natural grass field.

Baca update

Senior guard Jeff Baca, who has been out nearly two weeks with a concussion, said he had a doctor’s exam scheduled Saturday to determine whether he was close to returning to practice.

Baca, expected to start at guard, was at practice Saturday, but was not in pads.

Alberto Cid (concussion) and Greg Capella (calf) were also at practice but did not participate. Both were thought to be in the mix at guard.

The Bruins picked up an offensive lineman Saturday. Jacob Seydel, a freshman tackle at Riverside Community College last season, will enroll at UCLA. He joined the team at practice Saturday and has three years of eligibility left.

Lucien shines

Wide receiver Devin Lucien has not lost a step after missing two practices this last week with a minor concussion. Lucien had a string of good catches Saturday.

Lucien was a freshman redshirt last season and seems ready to make up for what he felt was lost time.

“I hated redshirting,” Lucien said. “But it humbled me a lot. I came in thinking I would play right away and thought I should have played. But it was a blessing. I learned what goes into being a Division I football player.”

Quick hits

Safety Dalton Hilliard missed practice because of a “family issue,” Coach Jim Mora said. Hilliard was expected to return for team meetings Saturday night.… Cornerback Aaron Hester sat out practice with flu.… Freshman Fabian Moreau, who was moved from receiver/running back to cornerback this week, returned an interception for a touchdown Saturday. … Inside linebacker Eric Kendricks, who missed practice this week because of a sore hamstring, returned to drills Saturday. … Former UCLA lineman Nick Ekbatani was at practice for the first time since losing the lower portion of his left leg in a motorcycle accident this summer. The Big Nick Fund at https://gofundme.com/venb8 has been set up to help with expenses.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes


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