UCLA: Morrell Presley

Presley, Viney to leave football team

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
4:53
PM PT
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.”

UCLA spring football: Saturday quick hits

April, 2, 2011
4/02/11
7:34
PM PT
Coach Rick Neuheisel said Saturday there is a "reasonable chance" that offensive lineman Jeff Baca could return in time for fall camp after having his broken ankle surgically repaired Thursday.

"We’ve got a great medical crew that will do their best to get that done and I know Jeff will work hard to get that done as well," Neuheisel said.

Baca broke his ankle when a teammate rolled on to his leg during drills and had surgery to insert eight screws. He made a brief appearance at practice Saturday with his leg in a cast and walking on crutches. Neuheisel said his availablity for fall practice hinges on how quickly his body recovers.

"The timetable is August 7 or whenever we get back together," Neuheisel said. "Hopefully he can have all of that to get ready. I’m sure there will be a nursing him back to health portion of that so I don’t know how much of the two-a-days he’ll do, but if we can have him full speed in September, that would be terrific."

A few observations from practice:

(Read full post)

UCLA practice report: Tuesday quick hits

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
9:00
PM PT
The Bruins returned to practice for the first time since their lopsided loss at California on Saturday only to deal with the distraction of the suspensions of Josh Smith and Morrell Presley, who will not play when UCLA faces Oregon on Oct. 21 because they violated team rules.

"We’ve had a conversation as a football team about what we think is appropriate behavior and it’s up to each individual to adhere to the behavior and when you cross the line, there are sanctions," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It’s a teachable moment and we’re going to take advantage of the teachable moment."

A few tidbits from practice:
  • The open competition at quarterback officially began with Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut splitting most of the reps with the first and second teams. Brehaut appeared to take the early lead after Prince had two poorly thrown passes intercepted. Neuheisel said he hoped to have a decision by early next week. "I want consistency," Neuheisel said. "I want leadership. I want management and I want consistency. I don’t think any coach in the country wants anything other than that. Big plays are wonderful, but we need to hit balls that we should hit."
  • Offensive coordinator Norm Chow didn't sound too thrilled about the idea of having an open competition, saying he would rather pick one and stick with him. Prince would be his choice, he said. "Right now if we had to play, I’m sure it would be Kevin Prince," Chow said. "That’s my opinion."
  • Prince said the competition is just part of the job, especially with an offense that has struggled to move the ball through the air. "It’s football. It’s a competitive sport and just that we’re going to have an open competition. That’s fine. Me and Rich have both been there before in competitive spots and that’s what football is all about."
  • Courtney Viney and Andrew Abbott were working with the first team at cornerback, replacing Sheldon Price, who is injured, and Aaron Hester, who played with the second team on Tuesday. "Aaron has had some troubles, but I believe in Aaron Hester and I believe that competition is good for everybody and I think Aaron Hester still has a lot of football ahead of him," Neuheisel said.
  • Price had an MRI exam that revealed a sprained knee. He was on crutches and in a knee brace, but Neuheisel said he wasn't ruled out for the Oregon game. Defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa had an MRI exam on his shoulder and it showed no damage. Odighizuwa practiced with the first team Tuesday.
  • Receiver Nelson Rosario was still in a walking boot to protect his sprained ankle but wasn't on crutches as he had been last week. Rosario missed the game against California, but said he hopes to have the boot off by the end of this week. Neuheisel said Rosario is "working hard" to be ready for the Oregon game.

Bruins air attack was not well received

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
3:23
PM PT
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The UCLA passing attack took some lumps during Saturday's 31-22 loss at Kansas State and the primary culprit--dropped passes -- took took almost everyone by surprise.

The receiving corps was responsible for stalled drive after stalled drive against the Wildcats because of at least a half dozen dropped passes by a receiving corps that has experience and loads of talent throughout the depth chart and was considered one of UCLA's strong suits this season.

"That wasn’t one of the concerns we had going in," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We thought we’d catch the ball well, but we did not answer the call with respect to that."

Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario, the team's top two leading receivers last year, are both back. Colorado transfer Josh Smith, an established playmaker, would be joining the unit. Sophomore Morrell Presley has a year of experience under his belt. Redshirt freshman Ricky Marvray has been a camp standout.

(Read full post)

Decisions on starters coming soon

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
7:14
PM PT
The Bruins are very close to making decisions on several positions that are up for grabs, offensive coordinator Norm Chow said.

Running back and F-back are among the most tightly contested spots on offense. The running back spot figures to go to either Johnathan Franklin, Derrick Coleman or Malcolm Jones while the F-back spot is a battle between Morrell Presley, Christian Ramirez and Anthony Barr.

"We're close on those," Chow said. "By the end of the week we'll have a real good idea. But keep in mind, we are going to do a lot by committee. Just because one guy starts, doesn't mean the other guys aren't going to get chances."

Some players who might not get chances are those who have been out because of nagging injuries.

"Hopefully we’ll get them back later this week so that they’ll be ready for a full game week of practice," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Because if they don’t have a full game week of practice, then they won’t play in the game."

Jones (sprained ankle) and fellow freshman running back Jordon James (hamstring), are among the nicked. Jones was out of the protective boot he wore Monday but did not practice Tuesday. James ran on the side but also did not practice.

Tight end Joe Fauria returned to practice after missing more than a week because of a groin strain. Safety Rahim Moore sat out for the second consecutive day because of a groin strain. Cornerback Sheldon Price, who dislocated his finger Monday, returned Tuesday with his hand wrapped in tape and practiced full speed.

Jockeying for positions at Fall scrimmage

August, 20, 2010
8/20/10
7:26
PM PT
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."

Cory Harkey returns; others to follow soon

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
1:01
PM PT
Tight end Cory Harkey returned to full action after sitting out a day with a concussion and then practicing Tuesday with a red jersey to fulfill NCAA protocols for returning from a concussion.

“It felt good,” said Harkey, who took a knee to his head during drill on Sunday. “I didn’t like being out at all. One day was too long for me.”

Harkey, who started four games and appeared in all 13 last season, said Tuesday was the first time he had ever worn a red jersey—an indicator to teammates not to hit him.

Did it work?

“Not really,” he said. But I don’t like being treated any differently so it was all good.”

Defensive back Stan McKay, also recovering from a concussion, wore a red jersey for a second consecutive day. Coach Rick Neuheisel said he expects McKay to be at full speed on Thursday.

F-back Morrell Presley is also out with a concussion. Neuheisel said Presley would be in a red jersey Wednesday afternoon and back at full speed on Thursday. Linebacker Patrick Larimore, nursing a pulled hamstring, is expected back before the Fall scrimmage on Saturday.

Damien Thigpen gets offensive again

August, 16, 2010
8/16/10
7:49
PM PT
Sophomore Damien Thigpen was back at F-back for Monday's afternoon practice session, adding depth to a position that has lost the services of sophomore Morrell Presley to concussion-like symptoms.

Thigpen, a sophomore from Gainesville, Va., has mostly worked with the defensive backs during fall camp. He played defense in the morning portion of Monday's two-a-days.

"The coaches want me to know both areas," Thigpen said. "I was freshening up on my F-back stuff and will probably go to some F meetings as well. It's double duty."

Thigpen's versatility should help him see the field this season. He appeared in every game last season -- mostly as the gunner on special teams --and rushed for 62 yards on 26 carries. He's also one of the candidates for the kick and punt returning duties.

"I've been out here working on my ball skills," he said. "I intend to do well."

Spring Practice - Day Nine

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
10:10
PM PT
The UCLA football team brought back the pads Tuesday afternoon in preparation for Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage. Coach Rick Neuheisel was pleased with the effort a day after having a light session.

Some observations from Spaulding Field:
  • Tight end Joseph Fauria left the field grimacing in pain as a trainer held his right hand. He will have X-rays to see if anything is broken. Neuheisel called it a "major jam," but expected Fauria to be ready to go for Thursday's scrimmage.
  • Sophomore Morrell Presley, who has been playing a combo receiver-back position this spring, paved the way for a long Derrick Coleman run with a loud block on linebacker Jared Koster near the end of practice. "He embraces the physical nature of the position," Neuheisel said. The coach was so excited that he posted a comment on his Twitter account shortly after practice -- "Bruins had a productive practice today. Big play highlight: 4th and 1, Morrell Presley earholes a blitzing LB to clear the way for a TD."
  • Quarterback Richard Brehaut seemed to be off rhythm with some throws late. Defensive back Andrew Abbott telegraphed a Brehaut dump off and took it all the way back for a score as defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and grad assistant Daronte' Jones chased after him to show appreciation.
  • Kevin Prince continues to separate himself from the other quarterbacks. He has been sharp and on-point with many of his throws -- no matter how short or how long. Here's what Neuheisel had to say:
  • Rising junior Nelson Rosario will be competing at the UCLA-Oregon men's track and field dual meet in Eugene, Ore. on Saturday. The football team is scheduled to practice at 4 p.m. on Friday, so Rosario will probably fly out that evening following practice. Click here for a brief report on his decision to join the track and field team.
  • Rick Neuheisel tweeted that New England Patriots Tom Brady and Wes Welker stopped by practice at Spaulding Field.

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