Interview: Steven Vieira

The senior offensive lineman, <b>Steven Vieira</b>, will play his last game as a Bruin on Thursday, and he reflects back on his experiences at UCLA...

Steven Vieira is a redshirt senior offensive lineman who was named Second-Team All-Pac-10 this season. 

He's played his last home game in the Rose Bowl, and will now play his last game as a Bruin December 23rd in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Looking back on your years at UCLA, what are your reflections on it now that it's coming to an end?

"My career here, from a football perspective, hasn't been really as successful as I had hoped when I came here. It's been fun, though. I've learned a lot. I've learned how to handle some really adverse situations. Not everything came easy to us since I've been here. I really think I've learned how to handle working harder, to acheive some excellence. I've learned how to really step up our level of play, working out in the off-season. It's been a whole growing experience. I wish I knew all of this when I first got here. But it's been great. I've met a lot of great guys, Craig (Bragg), and Tab (Perry), and the o-linemen, Paul (Mociler) and Eyoseph (Efseaff). I've just met a lot of great people, and created a lot of great relationships and friendships with people that will last forever. It's been fun."

What were some of the most adverse times or moments?

"Last year was a big one. The whole season. Then having to deal with that in the off-season, in spring ball, battling through it, trying to get better, trying to use it to motivate you. Losing to USC, that's always been a hard one. Doing whatever it takes to beat those guys. It's gotten better since I got here, but I never achieved that one and never will. It's just things like that. Handling the coaching changes. Like I said, we had to grow with it, and learn to handle it, and get through it. Coach (Karl) Dorrell and coach (Tom) Cable, they've been great for us since they got here."

Where is the program now? What kind of foundation is it on now compared to other stages you've been through?

"We're on our way up. We finished the season strongly. We have the ability to win, we just don't know how to use it all the time. I think what we realized during the season is how to do it more consistently. In practice, we definitely learned how to practice this year. The intensity in practice has definitely changed this year. From last year, and years previous to that. The practices have really changed completely, with a better intensity and better focus. So, this program is on the way up. We've been learning how to do things right all the time."

How have you changed from when you were a true freshman?

"Physically, I've gotten stronger. In knowledge of the game of football, I've learned so much, with all of these coaches around here teaching me about football, and not teaching me just what to do. I understand defenses a whole lot better now than when I first got here. To learn the playbook now, I just need to glance over it each week, just to remind myself. When I was a freshman I used to have to stick my head in that book for hours upon hours a night, and hopefully I'd remember the next day. So everything has gotten better from that perspective, in understanding the game. When I was a freshman and I first came here I didn't say more than two words at a time. The only thing that came out of my mouth was, 'Yes, sir' and "No, sir." Now I'm more relaxed, I joke around with the coaches."

As a senior Steve Vieira, what advice would you give the freshman Steve Vieira?

"Don't ever take anything for granted. Winning is not easy. You can never, ever go out there with a lazy mind or thinking you're just going to roll over a team. Because everyone is going out there to play football. They get that same check that you do. They're not going to just lay down for you because of who you are. You have to always realize that winning is not easy and you have to work your butt off for it."

You still keep telling yourself all the time?

"Definitely."

What have all the difference phases been like that you've been through - with Bob Toledo, Mark Weber, Karl Dorrell and Tom Cable?

"It's different. Each one was different. Coach Cable and coach Weber have different coaching styles. I think we're responding very well to coach Cable. Guys are working better with him. We really respond to what he says to us. Our success this year shows that. We're just having fun. He likes to joke around with us, and not make us up tight all the time. He fits my personality. He's relaxed, but when it's time to work it's time to work. That fits our personalities. I think that's what he has to bring to the table."

What's your opinion of some of the younger offensive linemen on the team?

"Pretty talented. We have some talent. Once Chris Joseph comes back from his knee, he'll be good. He's very athletic. Brian Abraham is tough, athletic and strong. Shannon Tevaga, if he can learn to do things great all the time, because right now he's at that freshman stage that everyone is at when they get here, like they can work hard but they really have to focus on it. When he learns how to focus all the time he's going to be a great football player. I can't wait to see that guy in a couple of years. He is going to dominate the football field."

Mike McCloskey?

"Mike is great. He's the most athletic center I've ever seen. He's just a good football player. He's a great guy to be around, and he's a good friend. Mike has a good future ahead of him."

What were some of the most valuable things you'll take from your experience at UCLA?

"Well, about two and a half years ago I met a girl here and we've been together ever since. She's probably the one thing that stands out the most to me. But in football, I would say the coaching experience I've gotten, from coach Cable and coach Weber, in the past. I worked with them the most, and they taught me some lessons I'll always remember. And I've gotten some stories I'll always remember. Those things stick out in my mind."

Will you go to school in Winter quarter or just working out?

"I don't know yet. I'll be working out, but with school I don't know yet."

How close are you to graduating?

"I'm done. Technically I have a minor I could be finishing. It's a matter if I want to finish that or just focus on football. Coaches are working on me getting into an all-star game."


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