UCLA football: Nate Iese shows big potential as a receiver
UCLA coaches were a little unsure what to do with Nate Iese, the 6-foot-3, 243-pound specimen from Elk Grove, Calif. He was on offense, then defense and spent 2012 as a redshirt.
Iese, moved to Y-back in the spring, is now a guy offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is itching to have ready.
“I’m like that kid that found a five-carat diamond in Arkansas,” Mazzone said. “You think, is it really worth that much money? Then you cut it up and shine it up and it’s a gem.”
That’s a long walk for a short drink of water, but his point is well taken. Iese has the look of a guy who will be a handful.
Iese is hardly unfamiliar with the role of receiver. He had 42 receptions for 522 yards and seven touchdowns at Sheldon High School as a senior.
“I feel very confident and comfortable playing the position,” Iese said. “The change has been really great because the other receivers have really supported me.”
Iese is likely a year away. The Bruins have Thomas Duarte and Darius, who can fill the position, among others. Iese, though, is special.
He showed that during training camp. On several occasions he has caught swing passes and barreled upfield.
“You think little corners want to come up and tackle that guy?” Coach Jim Mora said.
Iese said, “I have always felt comfortable running routes and catching the ball.” But he admits, “it is still a work in progress.”
Mazzone likes where it is headed.
“He’s got good ball skills, he’s big and can run,” Mazzone said. “He just needs the repetition. We don’t have a lot of guys like him in on offense, that big tight end like Stanford has had.”
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