With Shaq Evans gone, UCLA WR Devin Lucien takes on larger role

Devin Lucien is focused on being UCLA's top deep threat ('I'm hoping to have another big year') but working with the younger WRs is just as important: ('I'm just trying to help everybody out'.)

Devin Lucien: 'To fill Shaq's shoes individually, I take on that responsibility.'

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- It was about a year ago wide receiver Devin Lucien showed up on the radar, introducing himself as the next No. 1 wide receiver at UCLA.

Since then, Lucien has yet to get off of that radar.

On field, he's quite possibly one of the most dazzling receivers. Off the field, he's always one of the most dazzling interviews. 

Lucien finished the season on a high note, catching 10 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the final five games of the season and was voted the Most Improved Player at the team banquet. He plans on picking up right where he left off with his play in spring.

"It did a lot for my confidence, it picked it up a lot," Lucien said. "I desperately needed that and it's carrying over to this year. I'm hoping to have another big year."

His attitude is a little different. Lucien will always be a big personality but he isn't quite as worried about becoming the "No. 1 receiver" as much as he was before. UCLA's spread favors several options at receiver and Lucien poses a significant deep threat which is invaluable. But there are a pair of cleats to fill, those of leading receiver Shaq Evans, and it seems that the skill set similar that of his best friend and former roommate in Evans would show him to be a likely candidate.

"To fill Shaq's shoes individually, I take on that responsibility," Lucien said. "I looked up to him so much and I was with him 24 and on. I've put on a little weight. Another thing I've worked on is some of my quickness and getting off the ball faster and getting right up field as soon as I catch the ball, just little things like that."

On the field it's a little easier, but he's still trying to adjust to life without Evans in the locker room and away from football. He's been working with the younger receivers and learning to be more of a leader.

"Overall, it's different, it's a lot different," Lucien said. "Big brother is not out here no more. I talk to him on the daily, even while he was at the pro bowl and everything but it's a process. I'm going to have to get used to it and start talking to everybody on the team instead of just Shaq."

It's a newer, more mature Lucien despite the fact that the player he looked up to the most isn't around anymore. Dare I say Lucien is giving up on the flash and the brash?

"It's always on my mind," Lucien said. "It's a lot easier knowing that I have a significant spot on the team and I'm just trying to help everybody out."

Some things will never change, and some things -- like his acrobatic, tumbling end zone catches -- never should.