Jan. 14, 2009
UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner, who led the nation in passes defensed, will return for his senior season.
The All-Pac-10 cornerback was credited with 20 passes defensed (two interceptions and 18 defenses) and his average of 1.67 per game led the nation.
Verner was named All-Pac-10 first team by ESPN.com and Phil Steele Football Magazine and second team by the league's coaches. He also earned fourth-team All-America acclaim from Steele.
Verner said he was "50-50" before the holidays and had been leaning towards coming back for the last week. He met with his family last weekend and made his final decision on Tuesday.
"A part of me felt that I was ready to try the next level," said Verner. "After talking with people to get some feedback, I realized that I would benefit from getting bigger and more physical. I also need to watch film and dissect every detail, because that's what they do at the next level. I watch film, but I need to be more detailed in my analysis.
"I also want to continue to help Coach (Rick) Neuheisel build this program. I think we are going to have a great year. I also want to get my degree," said the two-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection.
UCLA will return six full-time defensive starters, including four of its top five tacklers, from last season -- linebacker Reggie Carter (83), Verner (73), safety Rahim Moore (60) and end Korey Bosworth (55). First-team All-Pac-10 tackle Brian Price, who led the team with 14.0 tackles for loss (Bosworth was second with 11.0) and linebacker Steve Sloan complete the group of returning starters. In addition, end Reggie Stokes started five of the final seven games of the season.