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Jordan Payton is in on pace to break UCLA’s all-time receptions record

UCLA receiver Jordan Payton makes a catch in front of Colorado defensive back Ken Crawley during the third quarter of a game at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 31.

UCLA receiver Jordan Payton makes a catch in front of Colorado defensive back Ken Crawley during the third quarter of a game at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 31.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s game on Saturday is against Oregon State, a rival that always inspires a memory for Bruins receiver Jordan Payton.

Oregon State was the opponent the day Payton made his first catch as a college player.

He couldn’t forget it if he tried.

“I got blasted on a screen, took a huge hit,” Payton said. “It’s all over the Pac-12 Network still. They still show it as a highlight.”

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Cornerback Rashaad Reynolds buried Payton after a one-yard gain, but many more productive receptions were to come.

Payton, now a senior, has a team-high 45 receptions for 680 yards with four touchdowns this season and is third on UCLA’s all-time reception list with 168.

Craig Bragg (2001-04) is the leader with 193 and Kevin Jordan (1992-95) is second with 179. Payton has at least five games remaining in his career, six if the Bruins reach the Pac-12 Conference championship game.

“It’s crazy to be so close to that,” Payton said. “It would be a great honor to come here and be the all-time leading receiver. That’s catching a lot of passes.”

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Eric Yarber, UCLA’s receivers coach, had no doubt that Payton was going to do just that, having seen him for years. Payton’s older brother, Michael, was a receiver at Oregon State when Yarber was the Beavers’ receivers coach.

“I’ve known Jordan since he was 6,” Yarber said. “When I saw him play, it struck me how he contested every catch. Even though it sometimes seemed like he was covered, he always came down with the ball.”

Even when it meant getting blasted.

“You know what, he caught the ball on that play,” Yarber said. That’s what I saw on film, making contested catches.”

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There’s a catch

UCLA’s Jordan Lasley made the first catch of his career last Saturday against Colorado. It was a seven-yard gain for a first down in the fourth quarter.

The freshman was playing slot, one of a handful of positions he has played this season. He has also lined up outside and was tried at safety when the Bruins were hit by injuries in the secondary.

“What I like about Las is his focus is there,” Coach Jim Mora said. “We have asked him to play multiple positions. Because he is paying attention in meetings and doing a nice job in practice, he is able to go in there and execute.”

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How much the Bruins will need Lasley this week remains to be seen. Receiver Stephen Johnson III, who has an undisclosed injury, left practice early Thursday. The status of Devin Fuller (ankle) is unknown, but he did not practice earlier in the week.

More injuries

Mora, who guards injuries like state secrets, revealed little about other injured Bruins. But linebackers Isaako Savaiinaea (ankle) and Josh Woods (hamstring) left practice early to receive treatment, an indication that they may not play.

Linebacker Deon Hollins (knee) is expected to play and linebacker Kenny Young (head) is likely to play.

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The Bruins offensive line should be intact, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said, with guard Alex Redmond returning from a one-game suspension and tackle Caleb Benenoch recovering from a leg injury suffered in the Colorado game.

Second to one

UCLA’s football program had an 89% graduation rate among players who entered college from 2005-09, according to the NCAA. Among Pac-12 Conference teams, that was second to Stanford’s 99%.

Chris.foster@latimes.com

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Twitter: @cfosterlatimes


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