UCLA freshman Brigham Harwell's career did not get off to a great start when the defensive end sat out part of training camp because of arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee suffered Aug. 16.
Since then, Harwell has slowly moved up the depth chart and he's coming off a five-tackle effort in his first start last week at California. Harwell will make his second start in place of injured sophomore Justin Hickman at Arizona State on Saturday.
"It was good to be out there, but I have to pick it up because I was kind of tired there at the end of the game," said Harwell, who has 13 tackles this season, including 1.5 for losses.
"Ever since I committed to UCLA, I figured that I would get a chance to play. But I realized that I was taking that for granted after I suffered my knee injury. Now, I'm determined to approach every game like it is my last because you never know what can happen the next weekend."
Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said Harwell has brought new energy to the defensive front.
"He plays hard and it's nice to get him caught up with things," Kerr said. "He's been behind because he missed camp with the knee injury and has had to work his way back in. He's still learning the defense but at least now he's able to go out and perform with some confidence."
Harwell, UCLA's most celebrated recruit a year ago who had the Sun Devils as his second choice, is finally getting used to the speed at the college level.
"The running backs are so fast," Harwell said. "There are plays that I made in high school that I'm not making now. But I'm getting familiar to this level now that I have the defensive schemes down better."
Because of a muddy practice field, UCLA practiced indoors at the men's gymnasium on Wednesday. It was the first time this season that Coach Karl Dorrell moved his team because of weather.
"We got a lot done considering the limited space," said Dorrell, whose Bruins worked on offense for the first half of practice and defense for the second. "I'm sure the players felt that it was a refreshing practice because they didn't have to practice as long."
Running back Maurice Drew, who suffered a minor left knee injury in practice on Tuesday, worked out without any major problems.
"I didn't drive to the basket, but it hurt a couple of times cutting on the hardwood floor," Drew said.