UCLA RB Jalen Starks Talks Spring Practice and Progress

Apr. 25 -- UCLA running back Jalen Starks spoke about his offseason gains, this weekend's spring game, the running back group and more...

On whether he prefers to play fullback or halfback

Pretty much wherever the team needs me – wherever I can benefit the team the most – is the way I’d put it. I like playing them both – they’re great positions. 

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On how he’s improved during spring camp

Oh I feel like I’ve improved a lot this spring practice. I’ve worked on ball security – especially working out with coach Foster. I’ve gotten my footwork a lot better, but it can still improve. I’ve gotten my pad level down.

On whether he’s added weight this offseason

Yeah, put on a lot of muscle. About 10 pounds – 10, 15 pounds. But then also I’m trying to lose some more weight so I can just stay lean and keep playing with my guys. 

On how much it helped to get some playing time last year

Playing time last year, I feel like it helped a lot. Because it helped me get the feel for the college experience, and I feel like it will roll over to this season and really get getting more playing time this year will do a lot for the next seasons to come. 

On what coach Foster has brought to the RBs that wasn’t there before

He brought a lot. Coach Foster, same as KP, they both bring lots of energy. They’re both passionate about the game and they both played at the college level, and at the NFL level. I feel like they both level out, and they bring stuff to the team. They’re basically just a family. They unite us as one, and we just go from there. 

On whether he’s excited that there will be an actual spring game 

Yeah. My first spring game? I love it. Just to go out there and to compete, and be able to say I played in a college spring game with UCLA is probably the best thing.

On which players he’d like to be on the same team with in the spring game

Brandon (Stephens), fellow running back. And just whoever else. I just love the running back corps in general, and the defense. So whoever’s on my team, I feel like we’ll give the other team the best we can. 

On how many LBs/DBs are hoping you are on their team, so they don’t have to tackle you in the spring game 

Personally, I don’t know. But, hey, we’ll see. 

On how the RB group has improved this spring

I feel like we’ve improved a lot. We’re running the ball harder, being more physical, we know our plays a lot more. We’ve basically just improved a lot. Let’s just keep it at that. 

On playing with a chip on your shoulder after what happened last year

A little bit. Because last season, it was like, ‘yeah, we were young backs.’ Everybody was like, ‘oh, they’re young, they’re young.’ But that really shouldn’t matter. We should just go in there and play our hardest and give it all we’ve got. So yeah I feel like we all have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder and just want to show the world what we can do. 

On the hand injury he suffered

It feels great to have my hand back. Coming out of the club – that thing weighed about 15 pounds. I just love having my hand back, I’m able to catch. It’s almost at 100 percent, just staying safe. 

On his playing weight right now

About 265, 270.

On where he wants his weight to be by the start of the season

Get back down to like 255 before summer camp

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