SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Monday night’s UCLA football practice at San Bernardino quickly turned from exciting to ugly.
The open practice came to an abrupt end when a fight involving Shaquelle Evans, Devin Lucien, Anthony Jefferson, Cassius Marsh and others broke out. Head coach Jim Mora made the entire team run 30 minutes of wind sprints as a result, saying the conflict was selfish.
“We had a great practice going, really good. We started with a live goal-line period and the intensity was really high,” Mora said. “I’m a guy that, you guys know, doesn’t like fights. And then we had a fight there and I ended it.”
It was a strong practice that was marred by its ending. A packed crowd was on hand to see the full-pad action under the lights.
There were several impressive performances: Quarterback Brett Hundley was showcasing his arm and hitting nearly all targets, Logan Sweet made the play of the day with a one-handed catch over his shoulder and the linebackers were going full speed and making big tackles.
But with about 40 minutes left of practice, the initial altercation began. After it settled and a few more plays went by, Mora let the players take off their pads and run another series, but the fight continued and escalated to the point that Evans needed to be calmed down on the sidelines.
“I think what’s really important is that we have to maintain our composure and learn when to back off,” Mora said. “Especially when you’re talking about the possibilities of someone getting hurt.
“The two guys getting in the fight are skill position players and all it takes is one guy to break a finger and we’ve got problems.”
Mora said he was impressed with the way the leaders of his team stepped up to break up the fight and attempt to diffuse the situation. It was simply a matter of heightened emotions getting the best of a few players.
“When you’ve been on a football team, you have to understand that it’s intense out there and it’s emotional and it’s passionate,” Mora said. “These guys are great competitors and hate to lose at anything, so they’re going to have those moments where things flare up and you just need to know when to back away.”
No disciplinary penalties will be handed down to the players involved. All players declined to talk to the media with the exception of Hundley, who made one statement: “As a team, right now we’ve just got to figure out what we’ve got to do and that’s all I’m saying.”