Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Dietrich Riley being assisted off the field, Rick Neuheisel by his side.
One possible solution to the safety problem came just minutes after McDonald's dismissal was announced, and it should have UCLA fans very excited for what's to come.
Redshirt junior Dietrich Riley has been cleared for full-speed, contact practice for this spring, uplifting news that has the potential to pay major dividends by fall. The hard-hitting safety was an absolute beast as a freshman and sophomore, but he went down with a frightening neck injury on a tackle gone wrong in October 2011.
Since the scary collision, which saw him carted off the Rose Bowl turf on a stretcher, Riley has been unable to play football due to lingering medical concerns about his head, neck and spine.
But after a year and a half of recovery that included a lot of hard work on the scout team, Riley is ready to step back on the field, and his presence couldn't be more needed.
Realistically, it will take some time for Riley to get back into game shape, both physically and psychologically. But if he can be even a shade of what he showed a few years ago, Riley has a legitimate shot to snag a starting role in the secondary.
Barring any health-related setbacks, Riley should see the field next year, and he should be welcomed back to the Rose Bowl to uproarious applause.
At the very least, he will be a source of veteran knowledge for the likes of Priest Willis, Tahaan Goodman and the rest of the Bruins in the green defensive backfield.