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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Sheldon Price tested in college starting debut

The 18-year-old cornerback started against Kansas State in place of suspended Courtney Viney.

September 21, 2009|Chris Foster

Sheldon Price had jitters. It would have been strange if he didn't.

Price, who was playing cornerback at La Puente Bishop Amat last season, was about to make his college starting debut for UCLA. Price knew his 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame was on the Kansas State game plan.

"I had a feeling they would pick on me early," Price said. "I told myself, 'Just make plays, just make tackles, it will stop eventually.' "

It didn't. Kansas State kept coming at Price throughout UCLA's 23-9 victory on Saturday. Still, it amounted to little more than the Wildcats spinning their wheels.

Price, starting in place of the suspended Courtney Viney, was busy, but not broken. Kansas State receivers found room to work in front of him, but there was no getting by him. Price finished with four solo and one assisted tackles.

"I didn't feel the game was too big for him," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Kansas State did cherry pick in front of him. He went up and made tackles and didn't hurt us."

That is about as much as can be expected at this point for Price, who saw limited time in the Bruins' first two games. But with starter Aaron Hester out with a fractured fibula and Viney unavailable, Price was it.

"I watched a lot of film and [senior cornerback] Alterraun Verner helped make sure I knew my assignments" said Price, whose father, Dennis Price, was a UCLA defensive back from 1984 to 1987. "But when I went out for warmups I was a little nervous."

Kansas State tested him on the fifth play, with a short pass to Lamark Brown. Price came up and stopped him after an eight-yard gain.

Said Price: "After I made that first tackle, I thought, 'Ah, this is nothing. I'm out here having fun.' I was a lot more comfortable after that."

Hester is not expected back until mid-October, but Viney has been reinstated for the Stanford game on Oct. 3. Neuheisel could invoke the you-snooze-you-lose rule, but Viney will likely return to the starting lineup.

Suspensions over

Besides Viney, tailback Milton Knox, receiver Morrell Presley and receiver Randall Carroll will all be reinstated for the Stanford game. The four were suspended for one game for violating a team rule last week.

Red flag on

yellow ones

UCLA's 80 yards in penalties were top priority, Neuheisel said, with two weeks off before playing at Stanford.

The Bruins made more than a few costly mistakes on offense, including an illegal formation call on tight end Logan Paulsen that wiped out a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Moya.

Wide receiver Taylor Embree was called for a crack-back block that erased a 15-yard completion to fullback Chane Moline. Wide receiver Terrence Austin was also called for a crack-back block on an 18-yard run by Johnathan Franklin.

"Those were painful," Neuheisel said. "There are little details, like making sure guys are lining up where they are supposed to be and the illegal blocks below the waist. We got to get those cleaned up."

Recruit watch

UCLA continues to try to lure out-of-state interest.

Derrick Bryant, a defensive end from Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven, and Jay Guy, a defensive tackle from Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower, were spotted at the game Saturday. The two were on official visits.

Bryant, who is 6-4 and 230 pounds, is ranked 26th at his position by Rivals.com. He is also being recruited by Oregon, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Guy, who is 6-1 and 300 pounds, is ranked 64th at his position by Rivals.com. He has committed to California.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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