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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12 Conference


April 28, 2022

Jevone Moore

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson can beat you with his feet and his arm.

It has not always been easy for UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but he seemingly has arrived in his final season. Thompson-Robinson, a two-time Pac-12 second team All-conference selection, looked sharp during a practice that was held at Drake Stadium last Saturday.

Thompson-Robinson looked and sounded comfortable in his fourth and final spring training. "It's been fun, and I've enjoyed every second," said Thompson-Robinson. "Just showing up every day, being grateful and being happy to be out here and enjoying the process."

Thompson-Robinson arrived at UCLA in 2018 as the No. 2 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country, according to the rankings. The No. 1 ranked dual-threat recruit in that class was Justin Fields, who is now the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears in the NFL.

In four seasons with the Bruins, Thompson-Robinson has thrown for 7,541 yards, 61 touchdowns and completed 60.8% of his passes. He has also run for 1,181 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is listed in the top ten all-time in almost every UCLA passing category, as well in total offensive yards, and in total touchdowns. If he stays healthy, he will likely end up breaking multiple career offensive records at UCLA.

Thompson-Robinson is one of several good quarterbacks in the Pac-12 this year. The USC Trojans have one of the early Heisman trophy favorites in Caleb Williams, a transfer from Oklahoma. Williams played for new Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma last year. In 11 games he passed for 1,912 yards, throwing for 21 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He also rushed for 442 yards and six touchdowns. Williams was a five-star quarterback in the 2021 class.

Oregon added quarterback Bo Nix to their roster in the offseason. Nix started for three years at Auburn, and in his first season was named the offensive freshman of the year in the SEC. Nix has thrown for 39 touchdowns and rushed for 18 touchdowns in his three-year career at Auburn.

Quarterback Cam Rising will return to help the Utah Utes defend their Pac-12 conference title. Rising led the Utes to the Rose Bowl and was named to the first team Pac-12 All-conference squad. Rising threw for 2,493 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also rushed for 499 yards and six touchdowns. Rising was a 4-star quarterback out of Newbury Park high school and was the No. 11 ranked pro style passer in the 2018 class. He spent one season at Texas before transferring to Utah.

Stanford's Tanner McKee was the No. 3 rated pro-style quarterback in that same 2018 recruiting class, behind Trevor Lawrence and J.T Daniels, and just ahead of Matt Corral. McKee spent his first two years out of high school as a missionary on a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He finally got on the field in 2021 and impressed the NFL scouts, who liked his 6-foot-6 frame and his ability to make any throw. The athletic McKee threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for four touchdowns last year.

The Arizona Wildcats added the Pac-12 Offensive freshman of the Year in quarterback Jayden de Laura, who spent his first season at Washington State. De Laura threw for 2,798 yards and 23 touchdowns in leading the Cougars to a bowl berth. The Cougars replaced de Laura with quarterback Cameron Ward, a transfer from the University of Incarnate Word who threw for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns. Ward should be a great fit for the Cougars version of the "Air Raid Offense," known as the "Coug Raid."

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly will be focused on making this final season for Thompson-Robinson a memorable one, while new defensive coordinator Bill McGovern will be focused on slowing down the array of talented Pac-12 quarterbacks the UCLA defense will be facing this season in the Pac-12 conference.

The UCLA practice on Saturday, April 23rd, at Drake Stadium, which was called the Spring Showcase, was the substitute for a Spring Game, which most schools hold for the benefit of their fans. For Kelly, it was just another spring practice. "Today (Saturday) was practice opportunity 12," Kelly said. "Maybe more people made it out that it's a really big deal. It's just No. 12 for us."

Kelly added that, "They asked us to go on the 23rd and we normally go on the last day of the [spring] so that's just how it worked. Last spring, we did the same exact thing, so this is a carbon copy of what we did last year. We just didn't have fans, so we did it over at Wasserman (the UCLA Wasserman Football Center).

Jevone Moore

UCLA football players work out during their Spring practice last Saturday.

Kelly seemed to be pleased with the performance of his team, especially the receivers on the team. Duke transfer wide receiver Jake Bobo and sophomore wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala were mentioned by Kelly as players that stood out, as well as the tight end group. The Bruins welcome back second team Pac-12 All-conference running back Zach Charbonnet and redshirt freshman running back Deshun Murrell, a 4-star running back from Alabama. The running game will be strong again.

But the key for the Bruin offense, which led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2021, will be the return of Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. The Bruins averaged 36.5 points per game, which was 16th in the nation. With 8 of the 12 regular season games at the Rose Bowl, the 2022 season is set-up for the Bruins to make a run at a conference championship. That would be a terrific send-off for Thompson-Robinson.


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