Myles Jack, UCLA’s linebacker-turned-running back, is old news.
Ishmael Adams was the new defensive player sparking the Bruins’ offense Saturday in the 38-33 loss to Arizona State.
Adams, a sophomore cornerback, returned kicks for the first time in his college career against the Sun Devils. He had 58- and 69-yard kickoff returns and a 49-yard punt return. Those were the set-up moments for all 13 of UCLA’s points in the first half.
“I think I did a pretty good job, but I had great blocking down field,” Adams said.
The one thing that could be better?
“I’ve just got to finish them,” Adams said.
Kickoff returners Steven Manfro (ankle) and Devin Fuller (hamstring) were out with injuries. So the Bruins just called on Ishmael.
“Ish raised his hand,” Coach Jim Mora said. “We knew he played some running back in high school.”
Adams was a part-time back at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, so to “have the ball in my hands was not foreign to me,” he said. “I just had to remind myself.”
But kick returns were fairly new. He said he returned one in high school.
Adams looked like a veteran Saturday. On his 69-yard return, he was clobbered just past his own 20-yard line, but spun right and took off.
“I just kept thinking, ‘go forward,’ ” he said. “I stayed on my feet and kept my balance.
“I hope I keep doing it,” Adams said.
He will. He averaged 37 yards on five kickoff returns.
Of course, Jack isn’t entirely passe. He did have 86 yards rushing and scored one touchdown against the Sun Devils.