WESTWOOD—Coming into my last college football training camp, it’s hard not to be excited. Of course not too many football players look forward to the daily grind of practice, meetings and the occasional lift—me included—but what I am excited about is how close we are to playing our first game of the season. As soon as one season ends the only thing on a football team’s mind is for real football to begin again. Throughout the off season, with the exception of spring ball, there is no football going on at all; it’s all about getting in the weight room to prepare for next season. Teams all around the country work to get stronger and faster, so they can improve on the results of the past year or continue the program’s success if they are already on top.
During our off season at UCLA, we have been putting in a lot of hours and hard work into the training program, so we can reach our goal of being the Pac-10 Champions. Each player has taken it upon themselves to see how much they are committed to achieving for that goal, and put that commitment into action on the field now that the season is already here.
College football would be nothing without recruiting, and every year it’s interesting to see the new talent on our team. I remember how I felt coming into a new environment when I was a freshman and being a little intimidated by the veteran players on the team, so now the roles for me have been switched. I get to see the freshmen try to get comfortable with their new teammates. This year we have a lot of new faces comprised of scholarship players and walk-ons, with the majority of them being on the defensive side of the ball. The young pups are usually behind the older guys because they don’t have too much experience, but I can already tell the freshmen this year are a different breed. Most of them have picked up the speed of the college game pretty fast, and I can’t wait to see which ones will actually help us reach our goals this year.
Offense has always been the weak point of the Bruins for the past few years. The defense and special teams have been some of the best in the country, but offensively UCLA has had a hard time finding any consistency. Fortunately, everything looks to be headed in a completely different direction for the offense during camp. Receivers like Taylor Embree, Nelson Rosario, Ricky Marvaray and Randall Carroll have been making big plays down the field all week long, which is a good sign that the offense has finally started to click. The passing game has been good, but that is all thanks to the effort given by the running backs. There may not be that many holes to run through, but with great vision and by running with conviction the running backs have found ways to get the yards they need and every once in awhile break free for a big play.
It may only be the first week of camp and we may have only been in full pads for two days, but just by watching the team practice I can tell the atmosphere has changed around the Bruin football team. The defense aren’t the only ones celebrating big plays or causing havoc this year. It may be a few years late, but the offense has joined the fight and when we have all aspects of our game operating smoothly, the Bruins will be a tough team to face week in and week out. There is still a lot of work to be done before September 4 when we play Kansas State, and we are going to continue to work hard every day to make sure we start off the season with a victory.