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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Freshmen show off skills on first day

Offensive linemen Stanley Hasiak and Xavier Su'a-Filo practice with the first-team unit during training camp.
By Chris Foster
August 11, 2009
They fit the profile of "poster boy" for what UCLA's football team needed most. They came in "as advertised," according to Coach Rick Neuheisel. They even went to dinner at the starting quarterback's house.

It can't be that easy for freshman offensive linemen Stanley Hasiak and Xavier Su'a-Filo. Or can it?
At the Bruins' first practice Monday, there was Hasiak at left guard and Su'a-Filo at left tackle.

"We just wanted to see what we had," Neuheisel said.

Even more to the point, it was a chance for other offensive linemen to see what they had.

A year ago, the line was the weak spot on a weak offense.

UCLA football: An article in Tuesday's Sports section on UCLA football that featured the team's new offensive linemen, Stanley Hasiak, Xavier Su'a-Filo and Eddie Williams, said that Hasiak planned to go on a two-year Mormon mission after this year. It is Su'a-Filo who plans to go on the mission. Also, in Monday's Sports section, UCLA strong safety Tony Dye was referred to as a redshirt freshman. He is a sophomore. —

Hasiak and Su'a-Filo, along with community college transfer Eddie Williams, were key members of a recruiting class that was heavy with offensive linemen.

Neuheisel said: "An offensive line capable of controlling the line of scrimmage or at least getting a stalemate, that's an absolute imperative."

That could mean sweeping changes for a running unit that averaged 2.6 yards a carry in 2008.

Darius Savage and Micah Kia were with the second-team unit. Jake Dean and Mike Harris were with the third team. All started at least six games in 2008.

Williams, meanwhile, immediately impressed coaches -- "I liked in terms of quickness of his feet," Neuheisel said.

Neuheisel warned not to read too much into the first-day groupings, but decisions won't take too long after the first day of pads on Friday.

A first team is expected to be in place after the first full scrimmage, and it is doubtful that there will be major changes before the Sept. 5 season opener against San Diego State.

Where Su'a-Filo and Hasiak fit in that plan is to be seen. Neuheisel said, "We'll see where we put everybody when we get to Friday."

Both Hasiak (6 feet 5, 318 pounds) and Su'a-Filo (6-4, 310) said they were eager to learn, but hardly expected to replace returners.

"I try to stay humble and keep a low profile," Su'a-Filo said. "The veterans are really good to me and have taken me under their wing. If I can help the team get better that will be great."

Still, as Hasiak said, "I knew I would have an opportunity to come in here and get a chance to play early, competing with the older guys."

Su'a-Filo plans to go on two-year mission

Su'a-Filo said he would play this season and then intended to go on a two-year Mormon mission next year.

"I really don't talk about it much because I want the focus to be on this season," Su'a-Filo said. "I'm working on my paperwork now and when I turn that in, I'll find out where I will go."

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