Ebell Earns the Start

The 5-9, 170-pound redshirt freshman tailback, Tyler Ebell, will make his first collegiate start against Oregon Saturday. Head Coach Bob Toledo was impressed with him in his 203-yard performance against Oregon State...

Tyler Ebell, the 5-9, 170-lb. freshman tailback, will start against Oregon on Saturday. Ebell, coming off a great performance against Oregon State in which he ran for 203 yards on 29 carries, said Monday that he's every excited about his first college start. "Now I'll have to prove that I wasn't a fluke," he said.

Manuel White didn't practice Monday, but was walking pretty well on his injured hamstring. Head Coach Bob Toledo said that White is "doubtful" for Saturday. Toledo said, though, that Ebell is definitely the starter. When asked why he picked Ebell over junior Akil Harris, Toledo said. "It's simple. He ran for 203 yards."

Toledo, who admitted he'd prefer to have a big, fast running back, said he'd glady accept a small, quick, effective running back like Ebell. Toledo admitted that he was very impressed with Ebell's performance. "I was the most impressed by how he ran between the tackles. Lowered his pad level and actually had great body lean and was making yards after contact. He's done some things in practices and scrimmages, getting outside, but it was just speed, and he showed that, too. But the thing that impressed us the most was running between the tackles and with some power for a 170-pound guy."

Toledo cited Ebell's ability to run outside as a huge factor against Oregon State. "The first quarter we thought we had some things outside and we couldn't get outside. All of a sudden we put him in the game and those runs that were two or three yards were big runs. He just outran people. So he gave us a little electricity."

Toledo said he holds up Ebell as a great example of how a player who isn't starting has to be ready to play. "He got an chance to play and he took advantage of it. I tell our players all the time that they have to be ready to play. You get your opportunity, you have to be ready. You just can't get enough reps for everyone in practice. But if you're ready and you get your opportunity to play and you take advantage of it, you'll play more. Ebell took advantage of it. We'll play a bunch of people at tailback, but he'll get the bulk of the work."

Toledo, on why Ebell can break tackles being 170 pounds: "God-given talent. He's not a small, wiry guy, he's a little, strong, powerful guy. There's a reason why he has Mighty Mouse tattooed on his arm. He's a fierce competitor. When you're little and people tell you you can't do something, you either say, ‘Okay, you're right,' and don't do it, or you fight back. I kind of like those little guys, because I used to be one."

Ebell's size could also make him more effective, Toledo said, since it might be hard for the defense to find a 5-9 running back among all of those tall offensive linemen. "I was talking to Phil Snow coming home on the plane. When we played against him at Arizona State, we had big backs, and you could see the backs and go tackle them. Then we'd put in Jermaine Lewis, and you'd lose him. And all of a sudden he squirts out of there. I think that's what happens with Ebell. Snow said that. ‘Man, those little guys are hard to see.' Behind those big lineman and then all of a sudden they squirt right past you. So there is something to that."

Toledo was asked about Ebell being such a star in high school and then having to sit and wait his turn once he got to UCLA. "We knew he was pretty good when we got him. The tough part is, after you get them, keeping them happy. They were all blue chip recruits. You have to talk to them. You have to tell them to be patient and their time will come. With Ebell, It goes to show, if you have a little patience, good things will happen for you." Ebell said, "I wanted to come to UCLA. It has great academics, a great football program and it was close to home. There isn't a better play to go than UCLA."

Ebell did say that he was joked a bit after the Oregon State game about getting run down from behind. "Yeah, when I got back to the locker room, all of my high school buddies who had watched the game on TV called me and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing getting caught?' I know I shouldn't have looked back. My dad also reminded me, too. I ran track when I was younger. I was in the regional finals of the Junior Olympis for the 200. I was blowing everyone out, then I looked back and tripped and fell on my face. I got second to last. I ended up beating one only straggler."

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