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UCLA Says Edwards Not Fit, Won't Play : College football: Latest development could cause further problems with NCAA officials, who had suspended him for one game last week.

October 20, 1995|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

UCLA linebacker Donnie Edwards will not play in Saturday's game against Stanford because of continuing problems with his injured vertebrae.

That could cause further problems with NCAA officials, who suspended Edwards last week only after being assured by the university that Edwards was physically fit to play.

Donald Morrison, UCLA faculty athletic representative, said, "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out [that the NCAA] may have concerns and they may not. . . . [Coach] Terry [Donahue] is concerned about Donnie's health. If we wanted to be really deceptive, there are a lot of things we could do. We want to play it straight. He's hurt. He's hurt."

NCAA officials were not available for comment.

Edwards was injured in a game against Oregon on Sept. 16, suffering a compression fracture of the vertebrae. While he was undergoing rehabilitation, charges surfaced that Edwards had accepted $150 in groceries from a sports agent. After investigating, the NCAA handed down a one-game suspension, to be served when Edwards was fit to play.

Edwards was medically cleared by team doctors last week and sat out the Arizona game as his suspension.

At the start of this week, Donahue reported that Edwards was experiencing soreness as a result of the work done on his back by a therapist. Edwards took part in contact drills for the first time Wednesday, working for about half an hour.

Afterward, he reported soreness in the muscles surrounding the injury.

Donahue said Edwards was medically cleared of the fracture but is not ready because of the lingering soreness.

"The fracture has healed," Donahue said. "He's fine for walking around and jogging. He's just not fine for getting his head smashed."

Edwards said, "I just don't feel right. . . . I could play if I wanted to, but why hurt the team and hurt myself? I'm afraid to play at full speed. I'm not comfortable in there right now. I know my body real well. I know when I'm ready and when I'm not ready. I'll go in there when I feel mentally and physically ready."

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