WESTWOOD—At Drake Stadium, the UCLA football team held their annual Spring Showcase. Bruins fans got the first opportunity to catch a glimpse of returning stars including quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet who look to lead the Bruins to a PAC-12 title and possibly a Rose Bowl Game.
Due to COVID-19, the Bruins have not had a spring game since 2019. Fans got an opportunity to see the team, as well as meet players and get autographs. It was clearly a different setting from the 2018 and 2019 Spring Showcase, where linebacker Josh Woods tore his ACL.
At a mark of 8-4, the Bruins obliterated USC 62-33 at the Coliseum last season and finished second in the Pac-12 South Division. The program faced scrutiny for backing out of the Holiday Bowl against the North Carolina State Wolfpack a mere six hours prior to kickoff in San Diego.
DTR stunned fans by announcing he would return for his senior year. Last season, the Bruins QB had his best season throwing for 2,409 yards and 21 touchdowns. His accuracy only improved, and he is zipping the pigskin down the field.
The Bruins offense lost two of their best weapons on offense in the off season. Tight-end Greg Dulcich and wide receiver Kyle Phillips are off to greener pastures in the NFL. No need for Bruins Nation to be worried because UCLA added firepower thanks to the NCAA Transfer Portal. Wide receiver Jake Bobo is exchanging his navy blue Duke uniform for the powder blue of UCLA, and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala is transferring from University of Central Florida.
“Oh I think there’s a whole lot left to accomplish,” said Thompson-Robinson. Adding, “I think we left a lot on the table last year, so we’ve got some things that we want to improve.”
With the offensive line unsettled and shaky after losing three starters this is an area of concern. Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet were poised, as the unquestioned veterans on Saturday.
Bobo, Kazmeir Allen and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala lined up as receivers on the first string. Allen seems on track to replace Philips as the slot receiver.
Over 1,500 fans attended the event. The intensity started when the half skeleton and 7-on-7 drills got underway. The biggest reaction from the crowd was when scout team quarterback Chase Artopoeus dialed up a 50-yard bomb to running back Keegan Jones towards the end of practice.
Coach Kelly demonstrated the Showcase was more than assessing who the starting right tackle is going to be. It was an opportunity for the Bruins to connect with their most ardent and loyal fans.
“Especially coming off of COVID we haven’t had fans in two years, so I think it’s important for players to have an opportunity to reach back out to our fan base,” said Kelly.