Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Practice: Linebackers

The goal of the linebacker corps this spring was to add some depth to a unit that had some issues with injuries in 2006. That included getting experience for backup middle linebacker Kyle Bosworth, who played sparingly last season and was ineffective in his one start in the place of an injured Christian Taylor.

"He's one I've been looking at to make some steps forward to make us, as a staff, feel great about our depth there," Dorrell said. "He's still making mistakes, but he is (making the right calls) for the most part. He's playing better than where he was in the fall, so we're encouraged by that."

The Bruins also added a JC transfer to the 2007 roster, Mike Schmitt, who committed to UCLA in the middle of the spring practice. He is a bit of an unknown, who came to Westwood after only one year at Pheonix College of Arizona. Schmitt still has 3 years of eligibility and will probably take the next scholarship that frees up this fall.

Aaron Whittington and John Hale battled it out for the starting spot at strong side linebacker. Whittington, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior, started 10 games at strong side linebacker last year, but an ankle injury created an opportunity for Hale, a 6-4, 225-pound junior who started three of the last four games. Both have had good springs and it doesn't look like the coaches are ready to name a starter.

"It's a battle every day," Whittington said. "Every day is an interview. But I'm confident they'll make the right decision in terms of who's going to play because I don't think they can go wrong with either of us."

Hale has also been working at middle linebacker with the second-string defense, so he could play some as Christian Taylor's backup. No matter what, he said, he's determined to get on the field somewhere.

"It definitely motivates you more when you're looking for a spot," Hale said. "Especially when you're competing against a player the caliber of Whittington. It definitely pushes you."

(sources: Daily Breeze, LA Times, OC Register, Brian Dohn)

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