UCLA’s Dietrich Riley reflects on frightening injury


UCLA safety Dietrich Riley lay on the field, a little frightened, Saturday night. By the time he was being taken off the field on a stretcher, he was already negotiating to stay at the Rose Bowl.

That’s how quickly Riley was able to exhale following a collision with California running back Isi Sofele in the fourth quarter.

“It was scary,” Riley said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t feel anything in my upper and lower body.” When the feeling came back, “I was saying, ‘I want to get off. I want to walk. Let me stay here and watch my team win,’ ” he said.

Riley did not participate in practice for a second consecutive day on Wednesday and said he would not play against Arizona State on Saturday.


He had an MRI exam on Tuesday.

“I’m going to get a second opinion and get another MRI,” Riley said. “I’m just playing it safe and not in a rush to return.”

Riley said that he did not have concussion symptoms and that “I can move my head from side to side.”

The experience, he said, won’t change his style. “I’ll still have the same approach. I’ll play aggressive and have the same nasty attitude. I’ll just keep my head up.”

Riley was anxious after the hit. Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was the first to reach him and, “He tried to pick me up, but I couldn’t move. He started yelling at everyone to come check me,” Riley said.

Trainers put Riley onto a back board to immobilize his spine before taking him off the field.

“The feeling in my left hand came back first and I squeezed the trainer’s hand,” Riley said. “My legs slowly came back. Once all the feeling came back, I knew I was going to be fine.”


At the hospital, Riley said, “I kept asking for an update on the game. A doctor finally told me the score.” Riley also tried to talk his way into being released. He was kept overnight as a precaution.

“I’m just thankful to be here today and I’m just thankful I’m walking and alive,” Riley said. ‘It could have been more severe, so I’m just thankful the man above is watching over me.”

Brehaut returning

Quarterback Richard Brehaut is expected to return to practice next week. He suffered a broken bone in his left leg against Washington State on Oct. 8.

Brehaut had an X-ray Wednesday morning and was getting the results of it after practice. He saw his own doctor on Tuesday.

“Hopefully, we’ll get him back next week,” Coach Rick Neuheisel said. “He sounds optimistic. I’m going to wait and hear.”

As to how long it would take Brehaut to get back into playing shape and regain his timing, Neuheisel said, “there is no way of telling. I have to see him practice before I will know.”

Quick hits

Tight end John Young had an MRI exam Wednesday after injuring his right knee Tuesday. “He had a body fall into him and he tweaked his knee,” Neuheisel said. “We’ve got to see what that means.” … Practice Wednesday was filled with loud admonishments from coaches. “There was sometimes a lack of focus, and that’s what we can’t have,” Neuheisel said.