UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel announced Friday that a pair of little-used players, tight end Morrell Presley and defensive back Courtney Viney, have been granted a release from their scholarships and intend to transfer.
Presley, who will be a junior next season, came to UCLA as a highly-touted recruit out of Carson High. He signed with UCLA after having previously committed to USC and the Bruins expected big things out of him, but his tenure has been plagued by disciplinary issues and poor performance.
He has faced one-game suspensions in each of his two years at UCLA and was also academically ineligible for the Eagle Bank Bowl in 2009. He had 11 catches for 63 yards in his two seasons, pretty much getting shunned last season after the first two plays of the season were designed to go to him and he dropped passes on both plays.
He finished the season with five catches for 20 yards and did not catch more than one pass in a game. He played the hybrid F-back position last season, but gradually lost his starting job to freshman Anthony Barr, so he reported to spring practice this year having gained about 30 pounds with intentions of switching to tight end, but he didn't appear to be moving past Cory Harkey and Joe Fauria on the depth chart.
Viney, who will be a fifth-year senior, has been a role player during his time at UCLA. He's appeared in 34 of 36 games but has come off the bench in all but two of those games. It appeared more of the same was expected with starters Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester both returning at cornerback and nickel back Andrew Abbott also back.
Viney intends to finish classes this spring and graduate with his class before leaving school. Because he will be a fifth-year senior, he can transfer without sitting out a season.
“I know that both Courtney and Morrell want to go where they can be starters and I certainly wish them both well,” Neuheisel said in a statement released by the school. “I am happy that Courtney will earn his UCLA degree prior to his departure.”