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Spaulding Roundup: Tale Of Two Seniors Putting Team First, Setting Example

As mentioned yesterday coaches are touring all over the Western US in search of next Bruin recruits this weekend. Our guys are going to be back in practicing beginning their preparations for Stanford tomorrow. I am sure they are going to be keeping a close eye on all the other Pac-10 actions going on this Saturday. I will put up an open thread around 12:30 pst for those who are watching the game. If you are watching the Washington-Stanford game, please make sure to share your notes since we are not getting it out on East Coast. As for news, it's a little light today. However, couple of good stories involving two of our seniors, indicating once again the kind of leadership and example this group is providing for all the new talent CRN is accumlating in Westwood.

I will start with Christian Ramirez who has had a tough start to this season with nagging injuries. Christian is battling to get back into the rotation. If his quotes in LAT are any indication he is going about it right way, putting his team first:

"Honestly, I'm just glad we're 3-0," said Ramirez, who returned to practice last week. "I could care less about my spot.

"We're probably going to have a three- or four-back rotation, so I'm just trying to work my way into that right now. I'm not trying to go out and take 30 carries. I just want to get in there and have fun and play."

Ramirez acknowledged that the going had been "rough" in practice. He was slow getting up Thursday after getting a cleat stuck in the turf.

"Getting back in a groove, getting in shape, it's tough right now," Ramirez said. "We have a lot of backs out there, so it's hard to get in a groove."

Hopefully Christian will chip away and get back into action soon. He had secured the starting spot this past spring because of his ability to block and catch out of the backfield (Chow loves that). If he can battle through his injuries and find a way to contribute with couple of plays here and there, it will help him get his confidence back. Hopefully it happens for him sooner rather than later. In the meantime it is good to hear him having the right mindset of putting his team first.

Speaking of seniors leading the team, let's talk about ATV after the jump.

Well what can I say about our All American CB. Per the OC Register ATV is basically been serving as an extra coach on defense for our young cornerbacks, helping them out on all kinds issues ranging from "schemes, alignments, game film, or even life.":

"If you have a question about anything, you could probably ask Verner," said freshman cornerback Sheldon Price, who filled a similar role during his senior year at Bishop Amat High School.

Price was picking Verner's brain before the Kansas State game on Sept. 19. That game marked Price's first start.

One week earlier, Courtney Viney was doing the same thing.

He was preparing for his first start of the season, against Tennessee. Viney had been thrust into the role as starting cornerback when Aaron Hester went down with a cracked bone in his leg.

"Verner has provided insight on a number of things," Viney said. "He's like another coach from the aspect that you can go to him when you need something. He's always there to give advice. Moreover, Verner has been in the program and he knows the defense inside and out."

Coaching, teaching, advising and basically helping others is nothing new to Verner. He's been doing it for as long as he can remember.

And one just has to read ATV's blogposts to get the sense of how he is going out of his way to help EVERYONE in any way he can. Here is ATV in his latest post:

I don't know if my girl, Sina'e, wants me to do this, but I am proud of her, so I wanted to say she is competing in the Miss California pageant. She is in the district round now. She is very excited and needs support. If you want to help her raise money to fight cancer, please visit this site. She needs everyone's help with a goal of $100.00. You will be supporting her and helping a child with cancer!

Well now I can't wait to read his followup post on how she reacted. In any event, of course if anyone wants to help out, they should go for it. From ATV's post it was also clear how much he is enjoying his last year at UCLA:

On another note, we start school Thursday and I'm pretty excited and sad at the same time. It officially means I'm a fourth year and about to embark on this difficult journey. I have three upper division classes -- Stats 100, Management 122 and Math 131a. I have them all five days of study as well, but it will make me a better person. I'm getting close to that degree and success guaranteed in some area! Most importantly, I get to help the freshmen adjust to the schedule change and let them know how they have to focus in on both school and football.

As school is about to begin, we had our annual 2009 Bruin Bash where we had LMFAO and Clipse perform in Pauley! They were very good and entertaining. I was with my young teammates and it was cool watching them enjoy themselves. I felt so old at times since I am a senior. But I still managed to have fun.

I am still struck by reading his posts on how genuine he sounds about his enthusiasm for UCLA. The way he writes about his experiences as an athlete and even more importantly as student at UCLA, you can sense he is not doing it as some kind of act. Because what he is sharing can only come from someone who went to our school. It's something that cannot be manufactured solely for the purpose of generating PR. It's just too cool and it is creating the kind of bond with this senior class and his team with rest of us that we started experiencing when Ben Ball warriors were starting to make their mark with the senior class of CB and RH in their last year in Westwood.

I don't know how this year is going to end. I am keeping my expectations to getting into a bowl game. However, I think I can safely say so far this has been the best start to a UCLA football season (not just record wise) in almost a decade and lot of it has to do with a group of seniors who seemed to be intent on taking advantage of stable and competent leadership from the coaching staff to leave a special mark in Westwood. Their journey and experience is drawing us even more emotionally closer to this football team. It's fun stuff.