Thursday was the last practice of Spring before tomorrow's Spring Showcase. In addition to Coach Mora encouraging everyone to come out to the Showcase and basically saying the same things he said on the radio shows he appeared on yesterday, Tak McKinley also spoke to the media.
For the first time this Spring, Cordell Broadus met with the media after practice as did several of the early enrollees. Specifically, Kicker J.J. Molson, JUCO Transfer Nick Terry, and Linebackers Lokeni Toailoa and Mique Juarez all gave their first interviews.
First up is Coach Mora.
Tak McKinley started off his interview in Beast Mode by saying he was "only there so he wouldn't get fined." It's pretty funny. All kidding aside, he spoke about the shift from the 3-4 to the 4-3 and said that the goal is to "Stop the Run 2K16". Maybe that's a new hashtag.
He also mentioned that the goal he and Deon have set is to lead the Pac-12 in sacks. He said they want to be 1 & 2 in the conference in sacks, although he wants to be #1.
Cordell Broadus said being back on the field "feels great." He said that he "couldn't sleep at night because he was thinking about football so much." So, he spoke with Coach Mora and he let him rejoin the team.
When asked why he quit, he said:
There were a lot of off-field issues I was going through. But, most importantly, I'm out here with my teammates and striving to be great every day....I was going through a lot of family issues. My grandma passed away. My auntie passed away from lupus. And, I was in a state where I wasn't mentally there. Trying to keep up with a football schedule, you have to really be mentally strong and prepared for all the obstacles that are going to get thrown at you. I felt I wasn't going to give it my all with going through what I was going through and, so, I decided I shouldn't play...last year.
J.J Molson also spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday. He talked a little about the transition from Canada to the US.He was asked about his connection to the Molson family and said that he's a direct descendent from John Molson who came to Canada from England and started the brewery. He joked that he's actually "John Molson VIII" and, when asked whether he likes Bud or Molson better, he replied, with an amused look, that he "doesn't drink beer."
He seems very excited to be at UCLA and said that he is good from about 60 yards. That's damn good range for a freshman kicker and, if he's able to hit from that distance in a game, he'll probably end up breaking the UCLA record which Ka'imi Fairbairn set just last year.
Nick Terry is a guy whose name has come up repeatedly during the Spring. He spoke primarily about the adjustment as a JUCO transfer student who only arrived on campus the Saturday night before Spring Practice started.
Terry talked about trying to stay consistent even when he gets sore. He mentioned that he's actually lost 6 pounds during Spring Practice, having arrived at 298 and now being at 292.
He says he brings "a lot of intensity to the game" and he's just "trying to make plays." He's definitely a guy to keep an eye on both today in the Showcase and come Fall.
Lokeni Toailoa spoke about making the transition from high school to college. He said that time management has been the biggest thing he's learned about during that transition. He also talked about the strength and conditioning he's done with Coach Alosi.
Mique Juarez also discussed the transition from high school and he said that the biggest transition was specifically knowing his responsibility on defense. He said that the veterans have been really helpful to his learning and that he's focused exclusively on defense so far.
Speaking of early enrollees, Steve Dilbeck has a good article on the LA Times website about the increased trend of early enrollees. In it, he mentions that UCLA has eight early enrollees this year and, while being an early enrollee is not necessarily a measure of future success, it is something that schools are seeing more of.