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UCLA still sorting out linebackers as quarterback Josh Rosen draws heat

UCLA still sorting out linebackers as quarterback Josh Rosen draws heat
UCLA linebackers Cameron Judge (4) and Aaron Wallace (51) are battling for one of the Bruins' few undetermined starting roles. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA, with 18 starters returning, doesn't have much to settle during football training camp.

Who starts at quarterback remains a question, and there is also a competition at linebacker.

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Kene Orjioke, Cameron Judge and Aaron Wallace have been rotating at one outside spot when the Bruins are in their base defense.

"We're a multi-defense, we need guys who can do different things in a lot of different lineups," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "… Sometimes they'll be a linebacker, sometimes a strong safety, sometimes a defensive end. They've got to be able do a lot of different things."

Orjioke seemed on track to take an outside spot last season when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The junior has been practicing with a knee brace, which he hopes to be removed at some point. And while he is pushing for a job, he knows not to go too far.

"It comes with taking care of yourself and understanding your limits," Orjioke said. "When the knee feels good, you go. When it doesn't feel good, we got a lot of young guys here that are going to be studs. I send in one of the young guys and they do an amazing job."

Judge, a junior, spent the last two seasons as a middle linebacker, with his playing time primarily on special teams. He was moved to the outside during spring practice.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable now," Judge said. "In the spring, I was kind of struggling with the plays. I'm having fun out there now, knowing what I'm suppose to do."

Wallace, a senior, is the war horse in the group. He has one start in his career, but has been rotated into the lineup the last two seasons.

"This is my last year of college football, my last year as a Bruin," Wallace said. "I want to make sure I go out doing the best I can. There's a sense of responsibility to be a leader to younger guys. We've got a lot of freshmen and this is their first taste of playing here, and they look up to you."

Motivational speaker

Quarterback Josh Rosen was having a good practice Wednesday. Then the freshman got lackadaisical, launching a Hail Mary pass during a late-session drill. Cue Coach Jim Mora:

"You're not at … Bellflower St. John Bosco anymore!" Mora screamed. "That's why you have not been named the starter."

Rosen then threw another Hail Mary, providing Mora more ammunition:

"You can't hit an open receiver down field with no defense!" the coach railed.

"The 'Anointed One,'" he sniffed.

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"Go back to Bosco and beat some more [bad] teams."

Finally, Mora looked over at members of the media and barked, "Tell your readers that is why he has not been named the starter."

Quick hits

The Bruins intercepted four passes in a 10-minute stretch, one each by Jaleel Wadood, Ishmael Adams, Octavious Spencer and DeChaun Holiday. The secondary was so good that even defensive back coach Demetrice Martin had a pick, as he dived to snag a ball that deflected off Adams. … Offensive lineman Conor McDermott (knee) returned to practice Wednesday morning, but was limited to work on the side. … UCLA will scrimmage beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. … Saturday's practice has been moved up to 9 a.m.

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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