Nelson Rosario is beginning to catch on – LA Times
By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
Nelson Rosario saw the ball and his instincts took over.
“I put up one hand without realizing what I was doing,” the sophomore wide receiver said. “I came down with the ball and it got real quiet. I wasn’t used to that, so I just started running.”
The one-handed catch that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown ignited UCLA’s comeback against Oregon State.
Coach Rick Neuheisel hopes it also kick-starts Rosario’s career.
Rosario had six receptions for 152 yards against the Beavers, including the play in which he out-maneuvered and out-jumped Oregon State’s James Dockery and sprinted to the first touchdown of his college career.
“I told him long ago that I coached J.J. Stokes and that J.J. Stokes emerged during his sophomore season with a big game up at Oregon,” Neuheisel said. “The next week, he had a huge game against USC. It was a springboard to an unbelievable junior year and he became a first-round NFL draft choice.”
That may be putting the cart miles ahead of the horse in this case, as Neuheisel seemed to acknowledge when he said Rosario “is going to have to have a different mind-set about competing and making plays on a regular basis.” But the raw ability is there.
Rosario, 6 feet 5 and 211 pounds, possesses tremendous leaping ability and deceptive speed.
However, there are times his concentration seems to lag, such as during the California game when Rosario dropped a sure touchdown pass.
“There is no reason for that,” Rosario said. “It’s all about focus. I tell myself, ‘Make sure you catch the ball, then run.’ “
After the Cal game, quarterback Kevin Prince went to Rosario and told him the ball was still coming his way.
“It brings your confidence up to know that he trusts you, knowing the ball could come your way any time,” Rosario said.
The Bruins, who have lost five consecutive games, enter an easier stretch of their schedule, facing Washington, Washington State and Arizona State in consecutive weeks.
Those teams are a combined 4-11 in Pacific 10 Conference play.
The task could even become easier, too, because Washington quarterback Jake Locker is questionable because of a deep thigh bruise. Locker leads the Pac-10 in offense, averaging 271.9 yards per game and is third in yards passing.
UCLA freshman guard Stanley Hasiak did not make the trip to Oregon State because of “personal health reasons,” UCLA officials said.
Hasiak is not expected to play this week, either.
Earlier this season, Hasiak was sat down for three games after a handful of near fights during practices.