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Friday, August 20, 2010
Jockeying for positions at Fall scrimmage

By Peter Yoon

Many positions are still up for grabs as UCLA heads toward its Fall scrimmage Saturday evening at Drake Stadium and even those that aren't could still be won and lost.

Among the heated battles are at wide receiver, where incumbents Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree are facing strong challenges from Colorado transfer Josh Smith and redshirt freshman Ricky Marvray.

At running back, Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman are being pushed by true freshman Malcolm Jones, the nation high school player of the year at Oaks Christian last year.

And the new F-back position could be the tightest competition on the team, with Morrell Presley, Christian Ramirez and freshman Anthony Barr all looking good so far in camp.

So does the Fall scrimmage make or break those jobs?

"You make assumptions based on the two weeks of work we’ve had, but your assumptions can either be confirmed or dashed when you get them out there without the coaches out there," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "You want to know how they’ll respond. There will be people there, there will be fans, there will be added excitement.  Can they block all that out and still focus and play? That’s all part of the game."

The scrimmage will last anywhere from 60 to 90 plays, Neuheisel said, enough to get a read on what players can contribute.

The players feel the heat.

"It's a big day for me," Ramirez said. "Last year, I got injured in the scrimmage and never came back and sat on the bench most of the year so I really have to go out and prove myself."