COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : UCLA : Linebacker-Fullback Goes on Defensive
Jeff Ruckman figures he’s come home after a yearlong visit to the UCLA backfield.
Ruckman, a sophomore, is looking forward to playing at one of the two inside linebacker spots, where he had anticipated playing when he was recruited from Porterville High.
Last season, he was a freshman fullback by necessity. There weren’t enough of them.
“Last season, they asked me if I would help out the team as a blocking fullback, and told me I could return to linebacker next season,” Ruckman said. “I said sure, and I think it was good for me to have game experience and experience at the tempo of the college game. Seeing things at game speed helped me a lot.”
There was a tendency to hear Ruckman before seeing him on the practice field last season. Whenever there was a loud crash, he was generally there, enhancing his reputation as a hitter.
"(On the field) you just block everything out of your mind, just go full speed and hope you hit your target,” he said. “You just don’t think too much. That’s the football mentality, I guess. People don’t think we think too much.”
But the adjustment to college linebacker is much more than a physical one.
“I didn’t think it would be as technical as it is,” he said. “I thought it would be, ‘Fill the gap, go out and hit somebody,’ just like in high school.
“Here, there are a lot more things to learn. Things are going on all over the place.”
The last part of every play is the same, though. It’s why he enjoys playing linebacker.
“You have a designed play, but there’s more free will,” he said. “And you get to attack.”
Strongest of the Bruins? No question, says Phil Frye, the strength and conditioning coach. It’s offensive guard Matt Soenksen, who bench-pressed 502 pounds in tests before practice began. Fastest? “I’d say it’s between Bryan Adams, Skip Hicks and Andy Colbert,” said Frye, who isn’t certain because the Bruins do not test speed alone, but rather combine it with endurance.
Cornerback Teddy Lawrence was in for 758 plays last season, most of any defensive player. . . . The Bruins had 29 players on the Director’s Honor Roll (3.0 grade-point average or higher) last season, with two of them, George Kase and Brian Stewart, making it all three quarters. Kase carried a 3.45 GPA, majoring in economics. . . . UCLA broke the two-a-day practice regimen on Tuesday, working out on the field only in the afternoon. Practice in pads with contact begins today.