"It feels great. I've been working really hard the past year and it's been my ultimate goal. To see that, after starting out where I did, it feels great."
You weren't really highly recruited out of high school? How much before signing day did UCLA start to recruit you?
"I went to their one-day camp in the summer. That's where Coach Weber saw me and said he liked me. He told me later on that they were only recruiting four tackle types, and that's all they had scholarships for and they'd like to offer me a walk-on position. I couldn't do that. We just kind of parted there. At the last second he calls me and somebody dropped out and they had a scholarship open up, and I came down there and committed."
What were your other offers at the time?
"At the time, that was about two days before I was going to sign with the Air Force Academy."
Being not as highly regard coming in, did you think you had something to prove? What did you think yourself about how good you were?
"I came in, reading about all these other big-time linemen, who were much taller and bigger, and I first just wanted to not make a fool of myself. To come in and just show them everything I got. Beat them athletically instead of with size."
When did you start to get the hin that you had a chance or were really good?
"I didn't think I was really good, but I knew pretty soon after I came in that I could hang with these guys. We came out here and everyone looked so big. It was a huge step from high school. But when I came in, and started hitting, I realized that the other guys are just as human as you are. And then I slowly just kept working and improving."
Can you keep up with some of the bigger guys strength-wise? Is strength something you think you need to work on?
"You always want to improve your strength. My legs I would say is the most powerful part of me. I powercleaned 350 over summer. That was really good for me. My upper body is probably the weaker part. I definitely want to improve. Get some weight gain and muscle."
How has your quickness and athleticism given you an edge?
"It's the one thing that's helped me the most. It's helped me get the best technique possible and get as low as I can. Being flexible and quick helps a lot."
Have you grown since you came to UCLA? You're listed at 6-5...
"Not height-wise, just weight. Since high school I've been 6-4, 6-5, right in between there. I'm closer to 6-4 and a half I think. I've always been right around there since high school. I haven't grown much."
Will the older, experienced offensive lineman help you when you get out on the field for the game?
"The two guards, Eyoseph [Efseaff] and Steve [Vieira] have helped me a lot, to learn the offense. I'm still a young guy and I haven't had the reps to know everything to do. They're calm about it and help me through it, which helps a lot."
Are you the type that will get nervous when you first play at the Rose Bowl?
"Everyone gets nervous. I'm not going to be shaking or anything. But I could have a few butterflies out there."
What do you have to work on to keep improving?
"It's just going to be a matter of getting experience, and improving my technique, and getting on a little bit more weight and muscle."
How much would you like to eventually weight?
"I'm 280 now, and eventually I'd like to be about 290, 295. Get that nice and solid. You don't want to be too jiggly. My goal weight for this fall was to be 280, 285, and I was there. I lost a little in the fall, but it's coming back."
How much do you think intelligence helps in being a center?
"The center has to identify fronts. Has to know quite a bit what to do, and it helps if he knows what everyone else on the line is supposed to do. I think being a smart player helps a lot with execution. The whole line has to be intelligent."