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Huson Habermehl injury adds to UCLA transfer portal needs


Hey, all you defensive backs about to enter the transfer portal. Offensive and defensive linemen getting antsy for a new school, listen up. Any tight end who is about to become a free agent, pay attention too.

UCLA just might have a spot for you.

Three days before the opening of the spring transfer portal window, Bruins coach DeShaun Foster identified his wish list in a bid to infuse talent and depth into a roster that could use a heavy helping of both.

“I have six positions I want to address,” Foster said Saturday, “and then best available [talent] after that.”

Foster ticked off offensive line, defensive line, tight end, defensive back and possibly running back and quarterback when asked which positions he would like to bolster. The spring transfer options usually are not as robust as they are in the winter because many players on the move this time of year are seeking more playing time after having been beaten out for a starting spot.

UCLA certainly could use help along the offensive line after giving up 42 sacks last season. Four of five starters will return, but the tackle spots remain shaky, a redshirt freshman is the projected starter at center, and there’s little veteran depth.

The defensive line would welcome a proven edge rusher and interior depth. Quarterback also is thin after Collin Schlee’s departure left only four players at the position.

The three transfer defensive backs UCLA brought in over the winter probably aren’t enough given massive turnover at that position. And the Bruins’ tight end depth may have taken a major hit Saturday when Hudson Habermehl suffered what appeared to be a serious left knee injury.

The flip side is that UCLA also could lose talent in the portal that closes April 30, though Foster said he was not anticipating any more departures besides Schlee and edge rusher Choe Bryant-Strother.

“It’s part of the game, so if it does happen then it is what it is,” Foster said. “But hopefully, you know, this team stays pretty intact and we’ll be able to make it through the portal.”

Habermehl hurt

UCLA tight end Hudson Habermehl runs with the ball during a game against South Alabama in September 2022.

UCLA tight end Hudson Habermehl runs with the ball during a game against South Alabama in September 2022.

(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Habermehl went down with only a few minutes left in practice, screaming in anguish as teammates dropped to a knee in a sign of respect. He eventually was helped off the field and into a medical shed.

Foster indicated that it was a noncontact injury that would require tests before determining the severity. The coach was so broken up that he walked up to talk to the media and then walked away to compose himself before returning.

“I’ve been a player,” Foster said, “so I know how it feels when you’ve worked so hard for something and the opportunity gets taken away from you.”

Habermehl was projected as a starter after making nine catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns last season.


The play of the day belonged to quarterback Ethan Garbers, who completed a 55-yard pass to slot receiver Logan Loya. Running back Keegan Jones also broke off a 60-yard touchdown run after cutting outside and zipping down the sideline. … The offensive line struggled, committing five false starts. … Linebacker Ale Kaho, who missed most of the last two seasons because of injuries, participated in agility drills. Foster said he anticipated Kaho fully returning to practice by next week. … Running back Troy Leigber suffered an apparent left leg injury and Foster said wide receiver Braden Pegan may have tweaked a hamstring injury. … Defensive back Donavyn Pellot, who suffered an injury in practice Thursday, stood on the sideline with a black wrap over his right leg. … Fans, donors and alumni received a call this week from a familiar voice. It belonged to Foster as part of a round of robocalls encouraging turnout at the Rose Bowl. “I’m just trying ways to engage with the community,” Foster said.


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