Oscar Lua interview

Incoming LB Oscar Lua talks about his mental preparation "I always think I have to win, 100 percent I'm going to do what it takes to win. If you go in there with one percent of an inch thinking you aren't going to win then that could end up being the difference in the game."

"What sports did you play growing up?"

"Mainly I played baseball, I picked up football once I got to high school but I was a baseball player as a kid. I played one year of soccer as well."

"Were you always a big kid?"

"Yeah, I was kind of chunky when I was younger but Coach Machado (Oviedeo, head football coach at Indio) changed that when I was a freshman and he brought me in and told me I was a good prospect. He took me in for workouts with the seniors and juniors and that's when I really started taking it serious."

"What kind of skills translate between football and baseball?"

"The mental aspect more than anything. Knowing how to prepare, reading the plays, the mental game of baseball is so different from football where you have to be more athletic and physical."

"When did you make the transformation in your mind to being a football player instead of a baseball player?"

"I would have to say the beginning of my junior year. I could tell the difference between my body and other people's bodies and the ability that gave me to perform on the football field. The first time I hit somebody and they went back three yards and I'm landing on top of them, that's when I said this is the sport I love. My aggressiveness doesn't really fit the game of baseball but it fits right in to the MLB position in football."

"Talk about your aggressiveness and the mental state it takes to play that way."

"I always think I have to win, 100 percent I'm going to do what it takes to win. If you go in there with one percent of an inch thinking you aren't going to win then that could end up being the difference in the game."

"What goes through your mind as you prepare to make a big hit?"

"I look at it as a battle between me and the running back, who is stronger and who is weaker. That might be simple but that's the way I look at it. The law of the jungle, whoever is stronger is going to take it. When I make a good clean hit I usually look up in the stands and see my father, give thanks to God, and clear my head to get ready for the next play."

"What are some of your training numbers?"

"Bench is 345, squat is 585, power clean is 315, 4. 6 in the 40 and I'm 6'1'', 245 lbs."

"Do you know what number you will wear at SC?"

"I might get my high school number, 45, because Mike Pollard might take 55."

"Have the SC coaches talked to you about a specific playing weight?"

"Yes, Coach Holt says that if I can keep my weight the way it is and lower my body fat percentage then I can play at 245 or 250."

"What do you think it your greatest attribute as a linebacker?"

"I would have to say my power. My speed, personally, I can't compare myself when I'm looking at guys like Freddie Collins from La Quinta because I feel undermatched but when I'm in the game it's a whole different story."

"Coming in to your senior year was there a concern that you might get overlooked by some recruiters?"

"Yes. I was injured part of my junior year and missed the big off season combines. It's hard to get attention from a school like Indio when you're competing against guys from Long Beach, Eisenhower and schools like that but I never really paid that much attention to it. I figured if you are an awesome player then someone is going to find you and if you're good you're going to be good anywhere."

"You were featured in an LA Times article during your senior year, is that when your recruiting picked up?"

"Definitely. I thank God for that article because things really blew up after that and led to me being heavily recruited toward the end of the year. It's funny because they went to interview a guy from Palm Desert and the coach told them about me being the best LB in the league and that's how it happened. I started hearing from USC pretty quick after that."

"Talk about how you ended up committing to USC."

"Coach Orgeron called a few times and sent some letters, after like two weeks they offered a scholarship and I accepted a week or two later. Ever since I was a little kid USC was always known as an awesome baseball school and I was always into them because of that but God changes matters sometimes and I ended up being quite a bit better football player. SC has always been a favorite of mine so when they offered it was a dream come true and I committed pretty quick."

"Are you going to try and play both sports at USC?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna try but if I don't make the baseball team it won't be a crushing blow. I'll just focus on being the best football player I can be which is why I'm going to the school in the first place."

"What is your GPA and do you have any thoughts on what you want to major in?"

"I have a 3.8 GPA and 900 SAT. I want to major in psychology, I can't really see myself behind a desk or anything so I did a little research into the FBI and CIA and they really like people who have a background in how the mind works. It is a great field to study human nature, find out why people think the way they do."

"Do you try to get into the minds of other players on the field?"

"Totally. I've always thought of myself as a smart person so I try to think and predict what I would do if I were in their shoes. There was one game when they ran a play toward the sideline and I was a little late so I figured they would think since I was late to one side that I would be late to the other side. Sure enough a few plays later they tried the same play to the other side but this time I was there for a two yard loss."

"Who instilled the drive in you to achieve?"

"My father. My family is my fuel when I wake up in the morning and I play to have the honor of my family."

"Describe Oscar Lua as a football player."

"He's an aggressive linebacker. Good hitter, decent speed and all around great player (laughing)."

"Describe him as a baseball player."

"Power hitter. Good fielder but power hitter is the definition of Oscar Lua."

"Your coaches talk about you as a role model, is that something you strive for?"

"I try to. My school hasn't had very many athletes who get college scholarships or anything so I like to talk to everybody, go read to elementary schools kids, let them know that they can achieve things if they work hard. It's a blast when you see little kids and they're saying "There's Oscar Lua", it's pretty fun."

"What are some of your goals when you get to USC?"

"I want to get my degree, first and foremost. That's important, especially from a prestigious school such as USC. I want to be the best football player I can be and hopefully earn a starting job."

"Are you aware of the linebacker tradition at USC?"

"Oh yeah, Chris Claiborne is an awesome player, he's huge with speed and he can really hit. If I can be one third of that kind of player I would be happy but my goal is to go in and exceed what he did. Following in the footsteps of guys like Junior Seau and Claiborne is an honor and I want to be able to play just like they did. The tradition at SC is always going to be there and I want to be a part of it."

"Talk about Coach Carroll."

"He's a great guy. A major reason why I chose USC is because of his defensive background, he was in the NFL for years, and he fits my style of play. He wants his players to be big and strong but, more importantly, he wants them to be fast. His philosophy is really about speed so that's why I'm working hard with what they want me to do."

"Talk about your workouts right now with baseball and preparing for football."

"My day goes by pretty fast. From 1:30 to 4:30 I'm at baseball practice and then I grab a quick bite to eat before going to the gym at 5:00 for a few hours of weight work from the program that the USC coaches sent me. After that I run a little at the school, go home for dinner and homework then it's time for sleep and we're back at it again."

"What are some of the drills that the USC coaches have you doing?"

"I have to run six 110 yard sprints in under 23 seconds with 75 seconds rest between sprints. Then we work on bench, clean, squat, it's the total package. Awesome workout."

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