Coach Rick Neuheisel said Saturday there is a "reasonable chance" that offensive lineman Jeff Baca could return in time for fall camp after having his broken ankle surgically repaired Thursday.
"We’ve got a great medical crew that will do their best to get that done and I know Jeff will work hard to get that done as well," Neuheisel said.
Baca broke his ankle when a teammate rolled on to his leg during drills and had surgery to insert eight screws. He made a brief appearance at practice Saturday with his leg in a cast and walking on crutches. Neuheisel said his availablity for fall practice hinges on how quickly his body recovers.
"The timetable is August 7 or whenever we get back together," Neuheisel said. "Hopefully he can have all of that to get ready. I’m sure there will be a nursing him back to health portion of that so I don’t know how much of the two-a-days he’ll do, but if we can have him full speed in September, that would be terrific."
A few observations from practice:
It was the first day in full pads, which heightened the energy and intensity, especially when the practice began with a spirited Oklahoma drill.
Neuheisel said quarterback Kevin Prince may be cleared to participate in seven-on-seven drills by next week. Prince, who had surgery on his knee in October, has been doing only individual passing drills the first week of spring practice.
Morrell Presley said he now weighs 245 pounds -- up 20 since the end of last season -- and has been playing tight end the first week of spring after playing F-back last season. Presley was the No. 1-rated tight end in the nation out of Carson High, but has yet to make much of an impact as an F-back at UCLA.
Neuheisel said the team has elected a "team council" composed of three seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. He said he would announce the players next week but indicated that "the job of that group is creating the culture that’s going to bring a championship back here as well as provide for making sure that we take advantage of everything UCLA has to offer." Team captains have not yet been selected.
The first mini scrimmage of spring will take place next Saturday.
F-back Damien Thigpen "tweaked" his hamstring, Neuheisel said, but wasn't sure if it would keep Thigpen out for any time.
Former UCLA running back Maurice Jones-Drew, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, attended a portion of practice. Former Bruins Rahim Moore, Eddie Williams and Darius Savage were also among the rather large (for a spring football practice) crowd at Spaulding Field.
The coaches continued to try and push the pace of the practices, maximizing the number of plays they can run in each 10-minute period. The team is still acclimating to the quicker pace. "It waned a little toward the latter half, but we jumped it back up and got more done," Neuheisel said. "We’ve just got to work really hard to keep that tempo throughout so that we can keep that tempo throughout our ball games coming up."
Sean Sheller slid over from weak side guard to take Baca's vacated spot at weak side tackle while redshirt freshman Wade Yandall and redshirt sophomore Stan Hasiak got most of the first-team reps at guard. Sheller played tackle last season.