Dietrich Riley had already fought his way back from one injury. He didn’t think he’d suffer another just one week into UCLA’s spring camp.
After sitting out all of last season recovering from neck surgery, the rising redshirt junior safety separated his right shoulder on April 6 — just the third practice session this month.
Riley had gotten his arm caught up trying to pry the ball loose during one-on-one drills, and the pain he suddenly felt had him fearing the worse. He said he tried to think positively, but couldn’t contain all his emotions as the staff worked to pop his shoulder back in on the sideline.
“Sitting in that shade area with the trainer, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I kind of broke down. I started crying because I’ve been working my tail off the whole offseason, just doing whatever I can to prepare myself mentally and physically. Then that accident happens.”
Luckily for him and the Bruins, the most experienced member of the secondary didn’t require surgery. Riley is gradually working back into practice with a red jersey. He said the shoulder feels fine, though he hasn’t gone full contact yet. He rehabs two to three times a day.
“He’s such a football-intelligent kid,” defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said. “When we throw him back out there, it’s like he never fell off. It’s like riding a bike to him. The thing is, it’s going to be vital to get him back and get him healthy.”