LOS ANGELES -- UCLA running back Malcolm Jones, the former Gatorade national high school player of the year, has requested a release from his scholarship and intends to transfer, according to two sources close to the situation who are not allowed to speak publicly on the matter because the proper paperwork has yet to be filed.
Jones, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior, played sporadically during his first two seasons and played only on the final drive of UCLA's season-opening 49-24 victory at Rice. Because he played in that game, he will have to petition the NCAA to preserve this year of eligibility. In all likelihood, that would be granted because he played so little (with only three carries for 10 yards) and because he has not yet used a redshirt season.
Jones does not have a destination school in mind, one source said, but is unhappy because he has been relegated to No. 4 on UCLA's running back depth chart this season behind Johnathan Franklin, Jordon James and Damien Thigpen. Those players are all quick, shifty backs who fit better in UCLA's new spread offense.
Jones is more of a power runner, but he said the week before the season started that he still had hopes of playing more than he had his first two seasons, when he had a combined 80 carries for 303 yards.
"I'm hoping to get a lot more opportunities to play in a game this year," he said in an Aug. 22 interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I feel like I can be featured in a couple of different ways in this offense. I'm not the fastest back, so it's kind of hard for me to get those open-field plays. I feel like I'm still a good all-around back."
Jones came to UCLA with great fanfare after rushing for 2,477 yards and 45 touchdowns at Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif. The Bruins won a major recruiting battle for him against Stanford. He also received offers from such powerhouse programs as USC, Louisiana State, Oregon and Oklahoma.