Knee injury will sideline tailback Carter for season

Times Staff Writer

Freshman tailback Raymond Carter, one of UCLA’s top recruits, is lost for the season. He will need surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Carter was injured at the end of drills Tuesday and underwent an MRI examination Wednesday. He watched practice while leaning on crutches.

The Bruins were already thin at tailback. Starter Chris Markey returns, but Kahlil Bell and Chane Moline -- who combined for 93 carries last season -- are the only experienced backups. Carter had an opportunity to get playing time this season and could have provided a break-away threat in the backfield.


Ryen Carew, a walk-on, is the only other tailback on the roster expected to have a chance at playing time.

Carter gained 3,168 yards and scored 31 touchdowns at Crenshaw High, and was a state finalist in the 100- and 200-meter races.

Patrick Cowan, the quarterback who helped engineer UCLA’s biggest victory since Karl Dorrell was hired as coach, has no chance of getting quality playing time this season, or next, if all goes as scripted.

His performance in the 13-9 upset over USC is chiseled into the minds of Bruins fans, but his name is written in ink on the second team. Cowan lost out to Ben Olson in the quarterback competition during spring practice.

Still, Cowan is a man of few words -- very few -- and none sound bitter.

A master of pat answers, Cowan twice said Wednesday, “All I can do is practice hard for the team and try to get better.”

That has been evident in his effort, offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.

“Football is about adversity,” Norvell said. “It’s a sport where half the people get knocked down on every play. It isn’t about winning a job or losing a job. It’s about how you deal with it. Pat has done that. He did great work over the summer and has elevated his game.”

Cowan’s resume could make that hard to take. He stepped in when Olson was injured in the fifth game last season and helped the Bruins win three consecutive games to finish the regular season, including the victory over USC.

But after spring practice, Cowan was looking at two seasons of being Olson’s caddie. Both are juniors.

Cowan, though, gave no thought about transferring.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’m a Bruin.”

Strong safety Chris Horton (hamstring injury) and cornerback Rodney Van (sprained ankle) sat out drills Wednesday. . . . The NCAA Clearinghouse is not expected to rule on the status of freshman defensive tackle Brian Price for a few days.