UCLA center Kai Maiava has been suspended for the San Jose State game after testing positive for marijuana, according to people in the program who were not authorized to speak on the matter. Under UCLA’s drug policy, an athlete is suspended for the next athletic contest after testing positive for a third time. The fourth positive test results in “an immediate suspension from participation in athletics” and a loss of scholarship, according to the policy. Last season, four UCLA players were suspended for a game after testing positive for marijuana a third time.
Coach Rick Neuheisel said, “We had to suspend Kai Maiava for this week’s game for a violation of team rules. No other comment to be made on that point.” Maiava did individual workouts Tuesday during practice. Greg Capella took over at center with the first team. “I broke some rules and I have to sit out San Jose State,” Maiava said about the violation. He would not comment on the specifics of the violation. “I’m not happy about the situation, but at the same time I’m not going to sit here and cry about it,” Maiava said. “Everybody makes choices. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m a grown man now and I’m going to learn from them.”
Capella started at guard against Houston but was the team’s backup center last season and played briefly at center against Texas. The rest of the line is in flux. Chris Ward will start at one guard. Either Sean Sheller or Albert Cid will start at the other guard. Jeff Baca, who was cleared to practice this week, could play at Sheller’s tackle spot. Baca has made a quick recovery from a broken ankle, suffered during spring practice. He was academically ineligible for the 2010 season. “We have a couple options,” Neuheisel said. “We have to see where Jeff Baca is with his conditioning. We have to see where Albert Cid is with his conditioning.”
Baca worked some with the first team during practice Tuesday. “He looked good the brief time he was in there,” Neuheisel said. “He wanted more, but we’re trying to be cautious. Conditioning is the big thing. He has not played football in a long time.” Willis enrolls Brandon Willis, the well-traveled defensive tackle, enrolled at UCLA and was allowed to practice. Willis, a redshirt as a freshman at UCLA in 2010, transferred to North Carolina last spring. He originally signed with the Tar Heels but transferred to UCLA last summer. He has four years of eligibility remaining.
UCLA is requesting a waiver from the NCAA that would allow Willis to play this season. If it is denied, he will have to sit out another year. “I have no idea how quickly things like that work,” Neuheisel said. “I know we’re going to try. I think it would be a great thing for Brandon. He has sat a long time for doing nothing wrong. I think it would be a neat thing if the NCAA allowed it to happen, but that’s not up to me.” Quick hits Quarterback Kevin Prince sat out practice going through the concussion protocol. Neuheisel said he would practice Wednesday. … Strong safety Dietrich Riley worked out with the first team, replacing Dalton Hilliard. Defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said the two would share the position Saturday.
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