With new outlook, a bigger Aaron Wallace returns to UCLA

With new outlook, a bigger Aaron Wallace returns to UCLA
UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace, right, battles USC tight end Xavier Grimble during the Bruins' win in November. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace spent his summer working out as hard as ever. He would wake up and go to the gym, then go to work, then end his day by going to the gym. The workouts were so intense that the redshirt junior linebacker says that he gained 10 to 15 pounds of muscle.

This drive to work out wouldn't have been that odd for a Division 1 football player, but at the time, Wallace wasn't a Division 1 football player. He technically wasn't even a player.

Wallace was forced to leave school in the winter quarter because of academic issues, and didn't return to the team until this summer. During those workouts, there wasn't even a guarantee he would be readmitted to the program. Instead of loafing, Wallace wanted to be as prepared as he possibly could.

With the season less than two weeks away, Wallace is up to 243 pounds. He's been taking reps with the first team, and while starters haven't been locked yet, he's a good candidate to earn significant playing time.

Even when his return to the program wasn't guaranteed, Wallace stuck to his plan.

"I've learned to come out here and treasure every moment," he said. "Because when it's taken away from you, it's definitely not a good feeling."

Follow Everett Cook on Twitter @everettcook.