"I was hopping on one flight to the next flight. It was crazy. But I kind of knew where I wanted to go. I wanted to check out some other places. I visited Arizona and Colorado State officially, and I had visited the Bay Area schools before. I didn't take any official visits to those because I knew enough about them."
What made you decide on UCLA?
"It really came down to Coach Johnson, the D-line coach.That's the guy you're working with every day. The competition here is something I needed. A couple of places I visited, they were offering me the starting job, and I didn't necessarily want it that way. I feel like I'm playing with the best group of guys around here. There are just real good athletes here."
What were some other factors that played into your decision?
"The education. I think, education-wise, I'm getting one of the best educations in the country. The classes are very competitive. And I have good tutors, luckily, that I see daily. And I have plenty of food to eat, which is great. In my first quarter, in winter, I did really well for grades, but I have to add more classes in the upcoming quarters just because I might be behind because of the JC education."
Now being at school here for a few months and having started spring practice, do you think it was a good decision to come to UCLA?
"It was definitely a good decision. At the beginning of spring practice, though, well, put it this way, this Monday was different than that first Monday. I'm feeling better now physically. When I got here, the first Monday, it seemed like everyone else had enough fuel to keep going besides me. It's non-stop: school, film, and practice, and I'm sure when football starts next fall it will be even more."
Are you where you want to be physically?
"I weigh about 276. That's kind of what I came in here at. But to give you a shot at where I'm at, I dropped down about nine pounds and I really felt like I gained back about 10 pounds worth of muscle just with the lifting program I've been doing. They had me up at 6:30 a.m., which is a kick-your-ass workout. But now I get to work out in the afternoon and I feel I'm really starting to develop. I really make a full day of it, school, workout, eat, practice. That's what I need. Back at home, there's so much downtime, too much lazy time. Here you're booked all day and everything is taken care of. When I go home, though, it will be great, to get a break."
You're playing defensive tackle. Is that what you prefer? And how do you think you're doing so far?
"I had a lot of coaches tell me that if I would have come to their program I would have been an end. I really feel that I can grow into defensive tackle because of my body frame. I really also think that Coach Johnson has done a good job of showing me why playing tackle will bring out the best in me. I think getting off the ball, good pass rush moves, and by being inside it takes away the chance of being double-teamed by the tight end, or the linebacker who comes over and blocks the end. The end has to do a lot of work to get to the quarterback. A tackle, they have a straight shot. I think if I'm going to play on the next level, which I want to do, I'd have to play d-tackle. Playing with guys like Leisle and Phillips, they do a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They've been doing this for a while. I watch them, watch what they do on film. And they I watch myself and critique myself pretty hard, which is good."
Do you see yourself getting a lot of playing time next year or possibly starting?
"Right now I'm two, behind Leisle, at right tackle. I haven't gotten a shot at left tackle. But I think in the next few days I'm going to get a chance to play both. Come fall ball, I could be starting, which would be great. If I could put on the muscle mass, play hard, and start making a few more plays on film, so the other coaches, Coach Toledo and the others, can see what I'm capable of, I think there's a good chance I could start for this team. I do think without a doubt I'm going to get a lot of playing time. If I'm not a starter, I think I'll be a damn good second man coming in. I think that's what Coach Johnson has me at right now."
Do you want to change physically by next fall?
"I like where I am weight-wise. I wouldn't mind an extra ten or fifteen pounds. It wouldn't hurt. My dad is 360. My uncle is real large. I think he's like 6-7 and 420. I haven't see him in a while. He's a big boy. So I have big genetics. I think I can gain the weight. I dropped the weight in winter with all the conditioning. You know, I was new and they wanted to instill in me that this was UCLA and it was serious stuff."