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Tight end position is suddenly one of the deepest for UCLA

UCLA Bruins tight end Devin Asiasi (86) participates in warmups.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Tight end is no longer an afterthought at UCLA, the domain of players converted from other positions.

It might now comprise the deepest pool of talent on the Bruins’ offense. Perhaps that’s why tight end won’t necessarily be a one-man operation on any given play under coach Chip Kelly.

Tight end Jordan Wilson said Thursday that the Bruins were using a lot of sets with two or even three tight ends. Some have featured the tight ends split out wide in addition to playing next to the offensive linemen, creating matchup difficulties for the defense.

“The more tight ends the better, if you ask me,” Wilson said with a laugh. “We create a lot of mismatch problems so I think we can be most successful when we’re out on the field together.”

Wilson, a redshirt sophomore, emerged as a capable blocker and pass-catcher last season. He’ll be rejoined by redshirt junior Caleb Wilson (no relation), who was on pace to set several records last season when he suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for the final eight games.

Redshirt sophomore Devin Asiasi is set to make his UCLA debut after having sat out last season as a transfer from Michigan.

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“We all kind of have our own swagger, but he brings a different type of style of play,” Jordan Wilson said of Asiasi. “He’s real fluid through his routes and can block really well, so he brings a real versatile style of play.”

Jordan Wilson said Caleb Wilson has looked “even better” than last season, when he caught 38 passes for 490 yards and one touchdown in five games. The trio of tight ends was recently joined by freshmen Matt Alaimo and David Priebe, who are in the midst of completing their first training camp.

It was only a couple of years ago that the Bruins’ tight ends were mostly former fullbacks, receivers and quarterbacks. Now the position is filled almost exclusively by players who have long specialized at tight end with the exception of Caleb Wilson, a former high school quarterback.

UCLA has so much depth at tight end that Moses Robinson-Carr was moved to the defensive line in the spring.

Mr. Versatility

Receiver Demetric Felton said he’s been split out wide during training camp instead of playing in the slot, a change he readily agreed to make.

“I had no clue about it,” Felton said. “The coaches asked me if I could move out and I told them I would do whatever I could to help the team.”

Felton hopes to help in other ways as well. He’s been part of the kickoff and punt return teams and hopes to get some carries out of the backfield as well.

“I like to do anything I can,” said the redshirt sophomore who caught two passes last season and had 10 carries for 75 yards.

Schedule update

UCLA announced several future nonconference games, including a home-and-home series with Auburn in which the Tigers will visit the Rose Bowl in 2027 before hosting the Bruins in 2028 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It will be the first meetings between the teams.

The Bruins also will play three more games against Hawaii, including one in Honolulu in 2020 and ones at the Rose Bowl in 2021 and 2027. UCLA added New Mexico State to its 2020 schedule as the season opener at the Rose Bowl.

Etc.

Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi and defensive back Octavius Spencer were absent from practice for a third consecutive day. Kelly did not speak with the media Thursday. … Defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia was a full participant in practice after being previously slowed by injuries. … The Bruins are scheduled to take Friday off before resuming practice Saturday.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch


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