Presley: "I'm Thinking Too Much"

The #1-rated tight end in the country for 2009, Morrell Presley, talks about the transition he's going through coming to UCLA early for spring practice, how he's fitting in to Norm Chow's offense, and more...

Morrell Presley, at 17 years old, is a lithe 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds and there has to be some question whether he can add the bulk and the weight to become more of a prototype tight end in the UCLA offense.

But, really, it might not ever matter because his speed and athleticism make him a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses; a big play waiting to happen.

Through half of the Bruins' 15 spring practices, that much is perfectly clear. ‘'Coach (Norm) Chow tells me every day, me on a little dude, it's no competition,'' Presley said.

Getting into all of the right places to take advantage of those mismatches is an on-going process, but one Presley is gaining on every day.

He is being asked to learn a lot of offense. The game has not quite slowed down yet and at times, while thinking about his feet and his steps, he has dropped some passes.

But he is into the challenge and, like Chow, can see the potential rewards on the field.

You're a tight end, but are having to learn a lot of other stuff as well. How is that going?

"Coach Chow told me when I was getting recruited that he was going to move me all over and use me all over the place, and that's what he's been doing. I've been here for about a minute, so I'm still learning all of the formations and the plays and just trying to learn everything, get everything down so I stop thinking so much, just play full speed."

It's really different stuff, too, isn't it?

"Yeah, it's a lot different. I've got so many things to learn it's just … right now I'm trying to learn it so I'll be able to play faster. Every time I go out there, I'm thinking about my assignment. I just want to learn it so I'll be able to just go – boom, boom, boom - instead of thinking...‘OK, it's one step...' Every day I'm just trying to get better and trying to learn.

"It's no joke. It's really a challenge. But I'm taking it full on and preparing myself for the season to come to bring back UCLA and all that."

Nothing like a good challenge...

"Man, there's nothing like a challenge. I de-committed (from USC) just to go against the best and to make us the best. I'm trying to learn from everybody - my coaches and everything they teach me, my mistakes. I'm learning from my mistakes, don't let them happen more than once, or try not to let them happen more than once. I just want to get better every day."

Do you see yourself growing into a more of a line-of-scrimmage tight end?

"I mean, honestly, yeah, I do. The coaches tell me every day that if I just know what I'm doing I can be an every down player, so I'm just trying to buy into that, trying to keep my head on straight and just try to stay focused."

And to have another cheeseburger?

"Yeah, try to get bigger and get stronger. This isn't high school any more. I'm not the biggest out there anymore. I'm pretty much the smallest out there. This change from high school to college, I've been knocked to the bottom of the food chain so I've got to work twice as hard just to catch up to everybody else."

Do you like the slot stuff more than more of a prototype tight end role?

"Just get me the ball and I'll be cool, but, yeah, I like going into the slot. Physically, I'm not really big enough to block the big dudes right now. I would have a problem with it. But right now they have me catching a lot of balls and stuff like that." I imagine that's a good place, though, for you. You would seem to be a nightmare to match up against.

"I'm trying every day. Coach Chow tells me every day, me on a little dude, it's no competition. And he's the man – he's put great receivers into the league and tight ends into the league. If he tells me I can do it, I have to buy into it."

He's got a pretty good track record that way...

"He's got a great track record. I'm just trying to be like the rest of the players he's had and learn as much as I can from him."

Not to drop a negative on you, but there have been times you've had trouble catching the ball. Is thinking too much about assignments a factor in that?

"Just thinking ... I know what I can do. I can play with everybody up here. I'm just thinking a little bit too much. I know I'm thinking too much because I can feel it. I just want to learn everything, get on top of everything, so I can slow everything down. The game will slow down for me. Everything now, it's just fast. There are so many things. I'm just trying to get everything down."


Bruin Report Online Top Stories