"The sprained ankle's fine. I've been practicing lightly, in some drills. But I think I'm all the way back."
Is it a bit discouraging after being injured so often?
"Well, it's my fifth year and I've never had a season without an injury. So, my big goal is to have an injury-free season. Not really starting off on the right foot. But this is nothing compared to what I had. I'm shooting for an injury-free season where I can play the whole season."
How is the competion for the starting defensive tackle position?
"Things are going cool. The ankle set me back, but not by much. Steve [Morgan] and I will always compete. We've been competing since we got here, so it's pretty much natural. I think we're both going to be getting a lot of playing time. Someone does have to step up and be the starter, though. I think I still have a good chance at it."
How does the defense feel this year compared to last?
"Last year, everybody was good. We had a couple of superstars. I think it's more of a team effort now. It's not like one guy has to carry the weight for the team like it might have been in the past. But we have more talent, and more depth this year. So, I think we're going to be pretty good."
You've always been a year younger than your class. How has that affected your status on the team – on and off the field?
‘It really hasn't affected it much. I still did everything they did – well, almost everything. I just turned 21 in May. But age really hasn't been a factor at all for me I think. As they say, the older you get the wiser you get. I think that's true, but there hasn't been any real diference between me and the rest of my class just because I was younger."
How much different are you physically than when you first came to UCLA?
"I was actually 280 when i first came in, but it was all kind of bad weight. You know how that first summer goes when you feel you just got to gain a little weight to compete but then you realize it's bad weight that you gained. I dropped down to 275 pretty quickly, and then I've building muscle on to that over the last few years."
What do you see as your strengths as a defensive tackle?
"I'm more of a run stopper. I'm big on the run. I need to work on my pass rush. I think it's cool but not as good as it could be. But my strength is against the run and being able to shed blockers."
Besides an injury-free season, what other goals do you have for the year?
"Well, I can't say it enough. I want to finish the season, that's first and foremost. And then try to get double digits in sacks. I need to get my sacks. I had a taste of it before, but now I'm hungry. I've never been able to play a full season so I'm looking for a full season of sacks. I'm looking to get to that quarterback. See that quarterback and get him. It's been far too long since I've done it."