Aug. 24, 2009
By Allison Taka, UCLABruins.com contributor
Junior Tobi Umodu of the football team is the featured athlete in this week's UCLABruins.com Summer Spotlight. Umodu is entering the 2009 season a more experienced player at his spot, after making the switch from linebacker a year ago and seeing action at fullback in the Washington State and Washington games. An English major, Umodu is looking to get into sportswriting after college.
Q: Going into your senior year, what goals do you have for yourself and for the team?
A: For myself, I just want to make sure I am doing everything I possibly can do to make our team better. Everyone wants to be the starter and be out there on the field, but it doesn't always work out that way, so whether it's on special teams or at my position at fullback, my goal is to just get the job done. My goal for the team is to go to a bowl game and also win the Pac-10. I think we have all the right ingredients to make for a really special season; all we need to do is continue to work hard and execute.
Q: Being one of the older players, how are you helping the freshmen adjust?
A: I just try and help them learn their assignments and also let them know how we do things around here because we are trying to take UCLA back to the top of college football. To do that, the young guys who come in need to have the same mentality as the veterans.
Q: What have you been focusing on to improve your game for this season?
A: Last year I moved to fullback, so I had to learn a completely new position. During the offseason I've worked on getting a better grasp of the playbook and the position so that I don't have to think too much and I can just go out there and play.
Q: How did pre-season workouts go?
A: They went really well. Everyone was tuned in and set on working hard to be in better shape than we were last season, and we have all improved a lot. Our team looks a lot faster, stronger, and more conditioned, which will hopefully lead to more success during the season.
Q: What was it like adjusting to a new coaching staff last season?
A: Ever since I've been here there have always been new coaches coming in every year, so it wasn't too hard to try and adjust. The coaches that came in are really good at what they do and are really good at teaching us what they know, so the transition went pretty well.
Q: Why did you choose to attend UCLA?
A: I chose to come here because this is one of the best, if not the best college campus in the country. An education from UCLA will allow you to have a lot of opportunities once you graduate, and with the state our country is in right now, those opportunities are hard to come by. The other reason is because I've been following UCLA sports ever since I was in elementary school, so I pretty much grew up with UCLA and always wanted to be a Bruin and play football there one day.
Q: What is the best thing about being a Bruin?
A: I would have to say being a part of the Bruin family. There are a lot of UCLA alums out there, and when I run into them it's cool to be able to share the different experiences you've had at UCLA and be able to have something in common with them already without even knowing them.
Q: Do you have any idea what you want to do after graduation?
A: I want to become a sportswriter, so hopefully it all works out when I'm done with college.
Q: Who has influenced you most in your life?
A: My mom because I wouldn't be the man I am today without her and what she has taught me. I may have complained and whined about some of the things she said or tried to make me do, but in the end I have come to find out her reason behind making me do those things, and I'm glad she did because I like who I've become as a person and wouldn't want to be any other way.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to play football in college?
A: I would just say you have got to love it, because college football takes up so much of your time and energy. So if you don't love playing football, then you shouldn't do it because to be the player you need to be takes a lot of hard work and commitment.
Q: What is your favorite comfort food?
A: Chinese food
Q: Three words to describe you are ...
A: Committed, Humble, Carefree
Q: When you aren't playing football, what do you like to do?
A: Play video games and watch movies
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be a player in the NBA
Q: If you could play another position on your team, it would be:
A: Defensive end
Q: What is something that most people don't know about you?
A: I really like to cook.
Q: And what is your favorite thing to cook?
A: My favorite thing to cook is chicken parmesan, and I like to cook for anyone who thinks my food tastes good.