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Three SCV products could see playing time in Pac-12

Posted: July 27, 2013 6:22 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2013 6:22 p.m.

Valencia graduate and UCLA redshirt sophomore Steven Manfro could see time at running back, slot receiver and punt/kick return this season.

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CULVER CITY – UCLA football is creating quite a buzz in Westwood these days.

Bruins running back and Valencia High graduate Steven Manfro gets to ride the wave of momentum for the team picked to win the Pac-12 South Division at Friday’s Pac-12 football media day.

Headed into his redshirt sophomore season following a strong freshman campaign, Manfro appears to be earning his way toward more and more touches as he recovers from shoulder surgery in the offseason.

“He’s had a tremendous offseason. He recovered from shoulder surgery. He’s at full speed,” said UCLA head coach Jim Mora of Manfro at media day. “He’s so versatile. What’s important is we recognize that versatility, but we also give him a chance to settle in to a particular position. Right now it’s running back because we have a void there.”

That void is former UCLA back Johnathan Franklin, who left for the NFL after finishing as the school’s all-time career rushing leader.

Meanwhile, up north at the University of California, Berkeley, first-year head coach Sonny Dykes is speaking highly of West Ranch graduate Jeff Coprich.

He’s another local product trying to find his way on the field as a running back.

The third and final SCV product in the Pac-12 who has a chance to play this year is Colorado defensive back Tedric Thompson, another Valencia alumnus.

Thompson has yet to officially practice with the Buffaloes, but will join the squad at the start of fall camp next week.

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has high hopes for the true freshman.

“I’m looking forward to watching him when we start in August. He’s a big, young man, athletic, 200 pounds, already put together well,” said MacIntyre, also a first-year coach. “Football is in his blood. His brother (Cedric Thompson) plays at Minnesota, so I’m really excited about getting him on the field and hoping he’ll be able to help us some this year.

On the positive side for Thompson, MacIntyre said Colorado is in need of capable players at the safety position, which should bump Thompson’s chances of making an immediate impact up.

As for Coprich, he’s coming off a redshirt year at Cal, where he was originally recruited as a cornerback despite the fact that he played at running back in high school.

This season, Coprich returned to the offensive side during the spring game. He showed signs of potential by breaking off a handful of lengthy runs.

It could be a steep hill to climb though considering the team’s existing talent at the position.

“I definitely see the potential because of his work ethic and how he comes to work every day,” said Cal wide receiver Bryce Treggs, who is Coprich’s roommate. “I think if he works at it, he could definitely move up the depth chart.”

Coprich caught his coach’s eye despite the fact he was originally recruited by the previous coaching regime.

“He’s an explosive, fast guy. I liked his toughness in the spring,” Dykes said. “He’s not very big, but I thought he really played tough and ran tough.”

So far though, Manfro is the only local with actual playing time under his belt.

The former Valencia High star and two-time Signal All-Santa Clarita Valley Football Player of the Year rushed for 70 yards on eight carries and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also added 28 catches for 287 yards and one scoring catches.

Mora said he can utilize Manfro’s speed and athleticism by getting the ball in his hands out of a slot receiver position and in the kick return game, which he also did last year.

Perhaps Manfro’s most ringing endorsement on media day came from his teammate and All-American second-team linebacker Anthony Barr.

“We do one-on-ones against the running backs every day – the linebackers and running backs,” Barr said. “I’ll tell you, (Manfro is) the toughest to cover. He’s so shifty. He gets going in the opposite direction so fast, which makes him very difficult to cover.”

Not bad coming from one of the top linebackers in the nation. In 2013, as long as he stays healthy, Manfro could be headed for a breakout year.

Signal Sports Editor Cary Osborne contributed to this report.



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