UCLA Sports

Two years later, UCLA’s Devin Asiasi and Wilton Speight hook up again for a touchdown

Arizona v UCLA
UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi catches a touchdown pass during the first half against Arizona at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
(Victor Decolongon / Getty Images)

There was a familiarity to Devin Asiasi hauling in a touchdown pass from Wilton Speight on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

Before there was Pasadena in October, there was Ann Arbor in September.

“A little flashback,” Asiasi said.

Asiasi’s first college touchdown catch came on a pass from Speight when they were teammates at Michigan early in the 2016 season. The tight end’s three-yard scoring reception came in the second quarter of a 49-10 rout of Penn State at Michigan Stadium.


The duo reunited at UCLA this season after Asiasi departed Michigan following the 2016 season, sitting out 2017 as part of transfer rules. Speight arrived last summer and was granted immediately eligibility as a graduate transfer.

But their first connection as Bruins took a while. Asiasi sat out the first three games of this season while suspended for violating unspecified athletic department policies. Speight played fewer than two quarters of the season opener before suffering a back injury and being overtaken as the starting quarterback by freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Thompson-Robinson was hurt Saturday against Arizona, giving way to Speight. The veteran quarterback connected with Asiasi on a perfectly placed 24-yard pass in a corner of the end zone that represented both players’ first scoring play as Bruins. It was also Asiasi’s first catch at UCLA and the second career touchdown for the redshirt sophomore.

Both scores originated from the same source.


“Us both being from Michigan,” Asiasi said, “it was really a special experience.”

Giving it a whirl

Thompson-Robinson resumed throwing passes Tuesday after barely testing his arm the previous two days during the portion of practice open to reporters.

Coach Chip Kelly described Thompson-Robinson as “good to go” but would not divulge which quarterback he expected to start against No. 23 Utah on Friday night at the Rose Bowl. Speight took the initial practice repetitions with the first team Tuesday.

“We’ll get to the weekend and find out who’s playing,” Kelly said.

Slim pickings

The Bruins were down to a final four at inside linebacker.

Bo Calvert has missed every practice this week for unspecified reasons and Kelly confirmed that Je’Vari Anderson and Mique Juarez were out for the season because of concussions. Another opening was created before the season when Josh Woods was sidelined because of a torn knee ligament.


That left Leni Toailoa, Krys Barnes, Tyree Thompson and Donovan Williams to man the position in practice, along with a scout-team player. Kelly noted that outside linebacker Lokeni Toailoa could also play inside if needed.

“We just don’t have a lot of guys right now, outside or inside,” Kelly said, “so we’re just trying to get as many guys as we can and get them prepared to play.”

Knee-jerk reaction

Quentin Lake got a little overeager after his first career interception Saturday. The sophomore safety caught the ball about seven yards deep in the end zone and ran it out, only to be tackled at the 12-yard line.

“The energy and the excitement kind of got to me,” Lake said. “I wanted my little six seconds of fame, so I had to take it out.”

Had Lake taken a knee in the end zone, the Bruins would have gotten the ball at the 20. UCLA coaches have instructed their players to take a knee if they don’t think they can reach at least the 30-yard line.

Lesson learned. Quickly. When cornerback Darnay Holmes forced a fumble later in the game and recovered the ball in the end zone, it was Lake who was yelling at him to take a knee.

“I was going to take off,” Holmes said, “but Quentin got in trouble for taking a ball out of the end zone for his pick, so he bumped into me and said, ‘Get down,’ so I was like ‘All right, I’m just gonna get down.’ ”


Mirror image?

They both wear No. 9 and style their hair similarly, flowing dreadlocks descending from their helmets.

Sometimes not even family members can tell defensive back Elijah Gates and receiver Dymond Lee apart.

“One time my grandma, she sent me a picture to my phone after the game, she was like, ‘I see you on TV!’ ” Gates said. “And it was Dymond.”

Gates did have the heart to tell her otherwise.

“I was just like, ‘Grandma, that’s not me,’ ” Gates said.


UCLA Chancellor Gene Block addressed the team before practice.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch

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