Former Bruin quarterback still in the game

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — The Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club, in its 68th year, meets Tuesdays at the Elk's Lodge. The following are odds and ends from the second meeting of the year.

STEVENS OFFERS INSIGHT

ON RILEY, OTHER TOPICS

As the color commentator for the UCLA football team, former Bruins quarterback Matt Stevens, who appeared as the club's guest speaker on Tuesday, has gotten an up-close look at former St. Francis High standout Dietrich Riley's first months as a college player.

Riley, a multiple-time All-CIF pick with the Golden Knights, was a highly-sought recruit at safety before signing with UCLA live on ESPNU in February, but three games into his freshman season, he's yet to get much of a chance to contribute.

Stevens was asked why he thought the Bruins, who picked up their first win in three tries, 31-13, over Houston at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, haven't turned Riley loose.

"Dietrich Riley's being put in situations and I think you're going to see more and more of him as the year goes along," said Stevens, who cited the presence of All-American free safety Rahim Moore and leading tackler and strong safety Tony Dye as blocking Riley from getting more playing time. "A lot of coaches like to see the kid get their feet wet and I think Dietrich's done a good job in the spots he's been in right now and as the season goes along they're going to play him more, but UCLA, for the first time, has a competition problem at positions. Now there's guys behind guys. [Coach] Rick Neuheisel has done an extraordinary job of recruiting the last three years and the cupboards are finally full."

Stevens was also asked if he thought Riley, who was a two-way starter at running back and defensive back in high school, might ever play an offensive down for the Bruins.

"Dietrich Riley, the way I've seen him so far, just has a great feel for free safety," Stevens said, "and that's where he belongs."

Stevens, who played at UCLA from 1983-86 and appeared in three Rose Bowl games, also enlightened the assembly with his Pac-10 predictions — he likes Oregon — projected National Championship game matchup — his scenario of Ohio State vs. Texas Christian raised a few eyebrows — and his assessment of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as one of the five most NFL-ready college quarterbacks he's ever seen.

FORMER BRUINS ENJOY

REUNION AT PODIUM

Three of the speakers who addressed Tuesday's meeting have some history between them in Stevens, Glendale Community College Coach John Rome and St. Francis High Coach Jim Bonds.

Rome coached Stevens when he was an assistant at UCLA, and although Rome had already moved on to a job at New Mexico by the time Bonds took the reins at quarterback for the Bruins, Bonds recalled encountering both men during a recruiting visit to a UCLA practice when he was still a student at Hart High in December of 1986.

"Coach Rome was going over the offense and I was watching Matt Stevens from behind and got to shake his hand afterwards," Bonds said. "I remember Coach Rome saying, 'Watch these guys and see if you can compete with them.'

"I watched Matt very closely, he was about my height, we had a similar arm and I said, 'I think I can play here.' Unfortunately, I didn't have quite the storied career that Matt had, but I had an unbelievable time at UCLA and it just brought me back to that moment seeing both of those guys up here."

Stevens was named the starter for the 1986 Rose Bowl against Iowa on short notice and passed for one touchdown and rushed for another in the Bruins' 45-28 win.

"He did a masterful job in the 1986 Rose Bowl," Rome said of Stevens. "I will occasionally still wear that ring very proudly."

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