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  • Randy Pench / Bee file, 2011

  • RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

    Bee file: Nate Iese of Sheldon easily carries nearly 250 pounds on a near 6-foot-5 frame. He's an impact defensive end and a tight end who's a handful to defend.

Hometown Report: Iese's versatility creates a good 'problem' for UCLA football

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 8:46 am

Nate Iese is causing chaos and confusion within the UCLA football offices. Coaches are debating how to best use the redshirt freshman who is blessed and cursed by his versatility.

Tight end? Defensive end?

Receiver? Linebacker?

Iese could play all those positions, but he'll make his UCLA debut tonight against Nevada at the Rose Bowl playing ... fullback.

"I just want to play," said Iese, a former Sheldon High School standout. "Anywhere they want me, I'm ready. I just love this game."

What's not to like about Iese? Coaches rave about his work ethic and his 6-foot-3, 243-pound frame. He can block. He can catch. He can run. He craves contact.

And the arms. The running gag is that you do not put sleeves on this man. He has chiseled biceps that would make a bouncer blush. His former prep coach, Josh Crabtree, jokes that Iese shouldn't even have to wear sleeves at his own wedding.

Iese said he is most proud of his academic achievements, even politely asking to delay an interview via telephone until after he finished a homework assignment.

When Iese isn't hitting the books he's tackling the task of learning different positions. UCLA may still use him as a receiver or at tight end or ... .

Said Bruins head coach Jim Mora to the media this week: "As he develops, we'll find a way to use him."

Rios update

Marcus Rios is back in UCLA gear, and the mouthpiece barely fits because of his grin.

The cornerback from Cosumnes Oaks, who last winter battled a rare, life-threatening fungus in the base of his brain, has been cleared to resume workouts with his teammates. He will not be in pads until next week at the earliest, he said.

Last week, the intravenous line that pumped antibiotics into Rios' system to kill any remains of the fungus was removed. It was a day he dreamed of when his weight dropped 50 pounds to 138 in February and he watched workouts from his hospital room.

"I feel really good, and I'm excited," said Rios, whose left eye froze in place at one point during his illness. "I'm finally feeling normal. I know people may think this is impossible, but in my mind, I'm competing for a starting spot this year. I believe I can do it."

Wentworth rising

Austin Wentworth is back for more at Fresno State.

The third-year starting left tackle from Whitney High is a senior captain who looks like an NFL prospect at 6-5, 306 pounds. He helped provide protection for Derek Carr on Thursday night as the quarterback completed 53 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 52-51 overtime victory over Rutgers.

Big on Kafu

Solomone Kafu of Rio Linda, a starting guard at BYU, reports he is in the best shape of his life at 6-2 and 315 pounds.

Known for his academic prowess and his good nature, Kafu wants to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, former Grant and USC star defensive tackle Christian Tupou, who was released by the Chicago Bears on Friday.

As a prep, Kafu delighted in taking Advanced Placement calculus and physics and being a campus leader, prompting longtime coach Mike Morris to say: "Solomone Kafu is literally the best human being I've ever coached."

Kilgore ouch

Logan Kilgore, a third-year starting quarterback for Middle Tennessee State out of Jesuit, suffered a shoulder injury and did not play in the second half of a 45-24 win over Western Carolina.

Kilgore, who is 12 touchdowns shy of the school's all-time record of 50, said he will be ready for next week's game at North Carolina.

Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty break down high school football on ESPN1320 from 9-10 a.m. each Saturday.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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