Point guard Cedric Bozeman already was out for the season, and UCLA just learned reserve guard Janou Rubin’s knee injury would end his season. So in early January, after returning from a trip to the Oregon schools, basketball coach Ben Howland sought permission from football coach Karl Dorrell to call Marcus Everett, a freshman receiver, and invite him to joins the hoops team. “If I played basketball, I would have missed spring (football) practice,” Everett said. “I thought I had to establish myself as a football player first. I had to establish myself as a receiver on this team. I miss basketball so much, and I wish I could play, but I have to look at the big picture.” Neither team can argue with Everett’s decision. The basketball team went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years. On the field, Everett, now a sophomore, has developed into No. 8 UCLA’s most clutch receiver. “He thrives on pressure situations,” Dorrell said. “Like any good receiver who wants the ball in those types of situations, he’s one of those guys. He thrives on that. He’s always dreamed about being the kind of guy to make that kind of play.” Or, in Everett’s case, those kinds of plays. Look at UCLA’s last three wins – each coming from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit – and Everett was a prominent figure. Everett, a stellar point guard in high school, wanted to play basketball but had other things on his mind, as well. The football team lost its all-time leading receiver, Craig Bragg, to graduation and needed to find a playmaker in the passing game. After consultation with his family and Dorrell, Everett shunned hoops. Against Washington, he turned a 5-yard hitch into a 39-yard gain in the closing minutes, using his quick feet and speed to juke a defender and race down the sideline to set up the Bruins’ game-winning score with 68 seconds to play. A week later, Everett displayed his soft hands and ability to make plays in traffic. His 38-yard catch between two California defenders put the Bruins in position for the game-winning score with 1:35 to play. And last week, Everett demonstrated his savvy. With his hands low so the officials could not easily see them, he gently pushed off to create separation from a Washington State defender and leaped to snare quarterback Drew Olson’s 9-yard pass for the tying touchdown with 44 seconds in regulation. The Bruins won in overtime. “I told you he’d be (a big-play guy),” UCLA offensive coordinator Tom Cable said. “I don’t care who it is. I’m just happy someone is doing it and that we have the ability on this football team to have a guy that’s done it a couple of times. Obviously, the confidence in his ability to do that is big for a quarterback.” Olson said having a receiver like Everett is a must. “He’s been making the big plays, the big catches down the stretch,” Olson said. “It’s not like I’m looking for him, but it’s great. You need it.” On the court, Everett “is a Division I basketball player,” according to Howland. Everett was one of the top point guards in the West in high school. He led Chaminade to the state tournament, and he received scholarship offers to play basketball. “But his heart is in football, and this is really his first year of getting some great experience playing all the time,” Dorrell said. “His potential is way up there. He’s just tapping into how good he’s going to be.” Everett impressed the football coaches in his first training camp, but a concussion curtailed his development. He made nine catches as a freshman, but he said he learned plenty from Bragg, Tab Perry and Junior Taylor. As a sophomore, he was pushing Taylor, now a senior, for the starting split end spot, but a separated shoulder knocked him out for nearly a month. Everett returned Sept. 17 against Oklahoma – a game in which Taylor sustained a season-ending knee injury – and quickly became one of Olson’s favorite targets. “Going back to Pop Warner and high school, there’s always been pressure on me to make big plays and help the team win,” Everett said. “That’s good pressure. I’m used to it.” Since returning, Everett is tied with tight end Marcedes Lewis for UCLA’s receiving lead. Everett has 19 catches for 241 yards and is feeling confident enough in football to trade his spring practice cleats for high-top sneakers and some gym shorts. However, Everett’s window of basketball opportunity might have closed. Dorrell said he would encourage Everett to stick exclusively to football. “As my coach (Homer Smith) used to tell me, ‘Karl, I’m always going to recruit somebody to beat you out,’ ” Dorrell said. “So that kind of kept me on my toes, and I kind of go by that philosophy as well.” And the basketball program, despite being banged up right now, has more depth than a year ago, Howland said. “It’s very difficult to come out in January for basketball after you’ve not done anything,” Howland said. “We’ve got two different press offenses, all the different plays and not knowing anything … He’s having such a good football year, and, obviously, that’s where his future is.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!