VIDEO: Epenesa on Senior Year

The veteran defensive tackle, Seali'i Epenesa, talks about his UCLA career, being in the best shape of his life, and more...

We spoke with Seali'i Epenesa after practice.


On being a senior.
It went by really fast. As a freshman, you don't really believe it. Everyone tells you it goes by really fast. But it really does go by fast when it comes down to it. I'm already a senior but I don't really feel like I've been here three years. It's a crazy feeling.

On the different feeling of this yea'rs team:
This fall feels the best out of the past three falls. Especially because of experience. I've been through this a few teams and I know what to expect. But it's a lot different now because I'm the older guy. All the freshman and sophomores are looking to me. On the field I have a lot more experience. I feel a lot better on and off the field.

On taking a leadership role:
You don't really feel it until the freshman get here. As a junior, you kind of feel it, you're the older guy, they look at you and that's what you do. And they follow you and everything you do. When you're a senior, the freshman coming to you are asking you what to do and you can't tell them the wrong thing. Its a little bit of pressure, but with all of the experience we have, this coaching staff, this is the first time we had the same caching staff from the previous fall. Its nice having that because we already know the plays and we had a season going through it and we know the playbook.

On the stability on defense:
Its huge because right now, we would be in the learning phase still, and learning the plays. But we now when we go into install, its refreshing the plays from spring. Its more learning for the freshman and its easier for us to help them when we already know the playbook. Its huge having the same coaching staff and the same learning techniques.

On his physical shape:
In the offseason I made a point o have to watch my weight. I felt good playing last year but I knew what I had to improve on. But that was my main focus in the offseason is to maintain the weight.  The strength was always there, but the endurance and quickness I had to bring that.

On his body in spring:
I slacked off a little and was heavier coming into the spring. I wasn't in the best of shape. I was dying going in there, five plays and coming out. Once spring ball was done, I knew I couldn't come in like that. You have fall camp for 2 weeks and then games. Right now I'm 310. Last year I fluctuated between 305 and 310 but I'm in better condition and leaned up a little bit.

On working with the Navy Seals:
It was a surprise to us but it was an awesome experience. Those guys were great guys and they taught us so much about being tough mentally. That's all it is when it comes down to it. Physically we can do anything, but it's all in our mind, telling ourselves we can do it, rather than quitting. Once you tell yourself in your mind you can't do it, there is no way you're going to do it. It was an awesome experience working with them, seeing what they do. And that's nothing compared to what we do. It was awesome to see them and an honor to see them. For us, if we make a mistake, there is a next play, if they make a mistake, it's death. It was good.

On Elllis McCarthy:
It makes me better and keeps me on my tops. He's a big kid and he's huge and it keeps me on my toes and I can't slack off and have to go 100% every play and if I don't I'll be second string for Nevada.


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