July 13, 2010
When you were a student at Kaiser High School, what most attracted you to UCLA?
"Growing up in the Southern California area, UCLA was always a school that I admired. Obviously it's a big name school, and ever since I was little this was a place that stood out in the back of my mind. And on top of its reputation, my family and peers encouraged me to attend UCLA and be a part of the tradition here. Basically, it was a no brainer."
How was Spring practice for you?
"Spring training went very well for me this offseason. I got a lot stronger, but more importantly I got a lot faster. That was my concentration during this past quarter, and I think I did a great job of working on an improving my speed and footwork. But I also did a lot of hand drills and stuff like that which were very helpful in developing my overall speed. Overall, combining all of these drills together has helped me to be in best shape for the upcoming season."
Talk about your team's training regimen--particularly when away from the field during the offseason. What does it take to stay in top shape?
"Staying in top shape really all begins with speed training. I have a couple coaches that I'm working with who are really helping me focus on my speed. We're drilling on everything from hand quickness to get-offs so I can be quicker and more of a threat as a defensive lineman."
How is it incorporating this type of training program during the school year while trying to balance it with academics?
"That is definitely one of the hardest parts of being a student-athlete here at UCLA. There's so much to do for both the team and my schoolwork, so its all about finding ways to fit it all in. Even this summer it has been tough because I'm taking a language class which meets five days a week. I've had to figure out ways to work around my class schedule. I have to do my workouts at six in the morning, and be in class at nine, and then do the 33 workouts in the afternoon. And this class is five hours a day, so pretty much the only time I have is the hour break between class and afternoon workouts. So overall it's very time consuming and sometimes a bit overwhelming, but it's all worth it in the end so that's what keeps me going."
What's the best part about coming to college and being a student here at UCLA?
"You know, being a student here has been a great experience for me because I have learned so much during my time here. I'm surrounded by so many different people and so many different cultures, and ultimately I've gained so much from being a part of the Bruin environment. Playing football here has obviously been a dream come true, but I feel that being a student has helped me so much, and I know that I'm going to be very successful in the future because of it."
How are you embracing your role as a leader on the defensive line?
"Well, the mentality of our defensive line is all about working hard. Guys like Datone Jones, Damian [Holmes] and Nate Chandler are all guys on the line who are working extremely hard during this offseason to make sure that we're all in our best shape for September. So even though experience may not be on our side, we're making up for it in hard work and effort. And even though it's a competition, we're all working together to make us the strongest unit around. And some of the younger guys do come up to me and ask for advice and tips, so I just do my best to let them know everything they need to in order to make them the best they can be. But beyond advice, I'm leading by example this offseason. No matter how simple the drill is, I'm always finishing through the line, which has shown the newer guys how we play ball. And honestly, we're more than a team, we're family and so we're all just doing the best to help each other to make sure we're as competitive as we can be this upcoming season."
What has been your most memorable experience as a member of the UCLA football team?
"Coming into UCLA, I wasn't really sure exactly what position I was going to be playing. At first I came in expecting to play defensive end, but over the past couple seasons I put on a significant amount of weight so I naturally made the transition to defensive tackle. Once I made the transition I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, but I started playing pretty well and it just kind of took off from there. So while playing this position here at UCLA, I had the luxury of playing with Brian Price and I think this was my most memorable experience because I just learned so much from him."
What does the team have to do this year to consider this a successful season?
"Working together is the biggest thing that we have been talking about. This is a team sport, so even though everyone is working together with their position coaches it is important that we all come together as one unit. Also, like I said before, working hard is another focus point of this offseason because we feel that as long as we are putting in the work, the rest should come together. And for me personally, my main concentration is going to be to translate all of my hark work onto the field, leaving nothing behind."
What are some of the other things you do in your spare time away from school and football?
"Honestly, I don't have too much free time. I'm either in class or in the weight room for pretty much the entire day, so by the time I get home all I want to do is eat and sleep. I watch a little bit of TV, but even in my down time I hit the playbooks and just prep in any way that I can. But like I said, it's all worth it in the end so I can't wait to put all of my hard work to the test this season, starting against Kansas State in the fall."
What are some of your other interests you are looking to pursue after taking football to the next level?
"Yeah, I'm definitely going to try and play ball at the next level. I love the game so much and have put so much hard work into it that I want to give myself a chance there. But after that, honestly I'm not really sure. I'm earning a degree in history, so I have a wide number of options I could explore but right now I'm just reviewing those options and seeing all of the possibilities that are out there. I know at some point I want to be a fireman, but I think there are others things I want to do first."