Malcolm Jones talks about returning to UCLA:
Q: alright, here with Malcolm Jones. You've come back to UCLA. How does it feel to be back out on the field?
MJ: it feels really good, man. I just love being out here. I really, really made a mistake when I decided to leave. I'm really, really glad I decided to come back.
Q: can you talk about that journey? I mean, you left school, I think it was September of last year, and then just the past eight months, what was going on with you when you decided to leave and what ultimately made you come back?
MJ: I mean, honestly, I think I was just too into my head. It was the heat of the moment. I didn't get a lot of playing time in the first game, and I was just over it. But, I mean, all these past eight months, it's been… I mean, it's been kind of a low point for me because all I was really doing was doing absolutely nothing pretty much, just working out. But yeah, I'm just glad I'm back out here with my teammates.
Q: do you think it was… I mean, partly just a way your first couple of years had gone here, do you think that influenced kind of the immediate decision last year?
MJ: yeah, I mean, yeah that always kind of jumpstarted it a little bit. [audio difficulties] going over the edge. I just had enough of it. But then I realized that there's more to life than football, and this is where I belong so I feel like I shouldn't have made that decision.
Q: yeah. Was it enticing for you to come back knowing that there's no real incumbent starter? There's nobody here who's been the starter so you can kind of come in and compete immediately?
MJ: yeah, I mean, that's always good. But… yeah. There are no backs really since Jet's [Johnathan Franklin] really gone. [audio difficulties] At least get some playing time because I've been out of the game for a little bit.
Q: right. Was it, I mean, was it difficult coming back to your team and saying, "hey, gone for eight months, but I'm back."?
MJ: Yeah, I mean, it was a little weird at first, but, I mean, everyone knows people still make mistakes. I'm still young. I'm still immature some times, but I mean, I've grown up a lot over these past eight months, realized a lot about life and I really truly did see what football means to me.
Q: sure. So did you talk with Coach Mora? Was that the one you talked to, to kind of get back?
MJ: yeah, I talked to Coach Mora in January and then I came to his office a couple days later, and I talked with him.
Q: and what have they told you? Obviously, you're walking on right now. But what they told you in terms of earning a scholarship and that sort of thing?
MJ: just show that I can contribute to the team, and I'm not the same guy I was before. I've grown a lot. And just show that on the field.
Q: it looks like… I mean, physically, you look pretty good. It looks like you have been working out quite a bit. What have you been doing in the offseason to kind of stay in shape and that sort of thing?
MJ: just, I mean, working out every single day. That's about it. I work out once a day and then the rest of my day, just eating a real healthy diet, not too much fast food or anything like that. but I mean, yeah, just changing… My whole diet changed, my whole working out changed a lot.
Q: do you feel like you kind of have a whole new lease on life? I mean, the way you're running out here, you look, I mean, you look more active I think than you've looked in your time here.
MJ: yeah, I mean, I feel like… I feel like being away from the game, it makes you realize how much you really miss it. And now that I do have my chance to come back, I just have to show everybody, I'm in it to win it. I just have to prove it to everybody.
Q: I know this coming year was scheduled to be your senior year, but I know… you only played, I think, a few snaps in one game. Have you talked… I mean, have you guys tried to figure out…
MJ: yeah, we're currently working on that right now. I'm about to submit a waiver to the NCAA to try to appeal to get a year back so I'll have 2 years really left. So hopefully that works out.
Q: what's the process for that? Is it just throwing in a waiver? Do you talk to somebody?
MJ: yeah, I'm just going to fill out some paperwork. I got to write some personal statements and all that but other than that, that's it. So we'll see in about a month or two.
Q: probably going to cover a lot of the same ground too. Tell me about the last couple of months. What you've kind of going through when you left and when you decided to come back.
MJ: yeah, I mean, it was kind of depressing at first. Just being back at home, not in school at all. Just watching football. Watching the guys do really good and stuff like that. So I mean, it was really hard at some points to watch, then I realized that, I mean, I shouldn't have left. This is where I belonged. And it was a really good decision for me to come back.
Q: what made you realize that?
MJ: just… honestly, I couldn't even tell you that. Just one day I woke up and I was like, "man, I shouldn't have done that." Something's not right. This didn't seem the right thing to do. It kind of hit me all of a sudden.
Q: did you ever really look at another place? Were you going down a road…
MJ: yeah, I mean, I had plans to go to San Diego State, but then just some complications got all messed up so that just really didn't work out for me. That's when I kind of realized that… this is too much for me. I shouldn't be doing this. I need to go back to UCLA.
Q: so what did you … you answered this, I'm sure, but what are you coming back here needing to prove to them?
MJ: just that I'm a changed man. I'm not the selfish immature person I was before. That I'm really a team player. I'm in it for the team. No matter how much I play or how little I play, I just want to be back on the team.
Q: I wanted to ask you this, because it seems to me it'd be hard for anybody that's 16, 17, 18 to have all of those accolades thrown on you. You win the Gatorade award. Young guys, they're not really equipped some times to deal with all that sort of attention. Is that ever… looking back, you thought, that "wow.. I could've been a little…"
MJ: yeah, I mean, kind of some of that. I kind of got some head a little bit. I mean, I didn't really show it, but like inside, I knew that like, I was kind of more like, "oh, I need to be playing" and blah blah blah. That kind of made me more of a selfish player. It was like, I "expected" to get a lot of playing time. And when I didn't do it, I sort of, I almost sort of gave up. I didn't really try and work harder than I did before. It was more just like, "Man, like forget this." But now, this experience made me realize a lot. I just have to work as hard as I can every single day.
Q: like I said, it wasn't a flaw. 99% of guys at that age that get that much…
MJ: yeah, get that much attention at 17, 18 years old, it's a lot to take in but, I mean, now that I've grown up a lot… not a lot, but now that I've grown up a little bit I realize that I'm a lot more wise and have more experience.
Q: you have a lot of classes?
MJ: yeah, I've got quite a couple classes right now so…
Q: you gotta get caught up.
Q: how many are you taking this year?
MJ: yeah, so…
Q: what are you taking?
MJ: just some economics classes. Just little classes that are kind of like smaller unit classes that'll help me along with that. And I've got an independent study class. So… I'll be ready to go next year though.
Q: if you've got history, I can help you out with that. That's the only subject… thank you.
VIDEO: Jones Talks Return
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