COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : UCLA : Linebacker Jasper Moves Into Lineup
There it was on the highlight film, shown before practice started last week: the ball popping loose from San Diego State quarterback Tim Gutierrez, Shane Jasper scooping it up and heading toward the goal line 39 yards away, in the open field, on national television on a Thursday night. It was a linebacker’s dream.
“I saw it and said, ‘Oh, no,’ ” Jasper said Sunday. “Everybody saw it and yelled ‘Hawk, hawk.’ ”
Or was it “Faulk, Faulk?” San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk hauled Jasper down from behind on the seven-yard line. Two plays later, UCLA scored in a 52-13 victory in 1993.
Nobody lets Jasper forget.
“When I went home during the summer, everybody was talking to me about it,” he said. “ ‘How did you get caught like that?’ I tell them, it took a 4.3 (-second 40-yard dash) man to do it.”
Home is Troup, Tex., in the rural eastern part of the state, and Jasper also let everybody know there that it was his turn in 1994. After two seasons of being the third inside linebacker in a two-linebacker defensive set, Jasper is the lone experienced player at the position returning and will line up alongside Rod Smalley, who is moving over from outside linebacker.
“I knew before that Nkosi (Littleton) and Carrick (O’Quinn) were the experienced players and starters, but now they’re gone and I’ve been working harder than ever on my running and in the weight room because I knew it would be my time,” Jasper said.
It’s not that he hadn’t played. Jasper was in on 60 tackles last season, frequently subbing when O’Quinn was injured. Only outside linebacker Donnie Edwards returns with more tackles.
Jasper is similar to Littleton in stature, an inch taller at 6 feet 3 and about the same bulk at 250 pounds, and might be a step faster. And his work ethic will be challenged. Unlike O’Quinn and Littleton, there is no Shane Jasper behind him.
Instead, there are sophomores Jeff Ruckman and Brent Guyton, who are still learning the position.
Injury report: defensive tackle London Woodfin is nursing a knee injury after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in May; freshman lineman Terry Williams has a shoulder injury; linebacker Travis Shipman has a hamstring pull; wide receiver and holder Kevin Walker has a sprained ankle and Skip Hicks is recovering from knee surgery. . . . Junior linebacker Donnie Edwards is on schedule to graduate after the winter quarter. He plans to play as a graduate student next season. . . . Workouts in pads will begin on Wednesday. . . . A Rose Bowl scrimmage will be held Aug. 27.