Emotional day finally arrives for UCLA's seniors

Emotional day finally arrives for UCLA's seniors
Bruins center Scott Quessenberry played his final home game on Friday night. (Sam Craft / Associated Press)

It was a sentimental week for UCLA on multiple fronts. Five days after the Bruins bid farewell to Jim Mora upon his dismissal as coach, the team's seniors played in their final game at the Rose Bowl.

Center Scott Quessenberry sighed heavily when asked how he might feel in his last home game, and it was only Monday.


"It's going to be emotional," Quessenberry said. "It's going to be tough. I haven't won a senior night since I've been here, so you obviously think about that. But we're going to go out there and get a win and we're excited."

Quessenberry was among the 24 seniors who were recognized before UCLA's game against California on Friday night. Each player was also featured on a set of trading cards distributed to fans before the game.

Quarterback Josh Rosen, receiver Jordan Lasley and left tackle Kolton Miller are among the juniors who might have played in their final home game depending on whether they decide to forgo their final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Asked earlier in the week if he was contemplating whether it might be his last game in the Rose Bowl, Rosen said, "Uh, no. I just want to win a game."

Linebacker Kenny Young intimated that it could be an emotional experience given the feelings he experienced in his final high school game.

"I try not to think about it," Young said Tuesday of his last collegiate home game. "I try just to bring energy to my guys, continue to be a leader, and whatever happens, happens. I can't tell you how I'll feel on game day."

The other players honored before the game were receivers Darren Andrews, Eldridge Massington, Will McClure, Brad Sochowski and Alex Van Dyke; offensive linemen Zach Bateman, Kenny Lacy, Sunny Odogwu, Poasi Moala, Gyo Shojima and Najee Toran; linebackers Young and Xan Cuevas; defensive linemen Matt Dickerson, Nick Terry and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner; running backs Giovanni Gentosi, Justin Rittman and Nate Starks; defensive backs Mossi Johnson and Jaleel Wadood; quarterback Craig Myers; and tight end Alex Rassool.

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley lightened the mood among the seniors earlier in the week when he recalled playing in his final college game for Penn State … on Nov. 24, 1978.

"They all started laughing," said Bradley, who remembered the exact date and score, a 17-10 victory for his Nittany Lions over Pittsburgh at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

"It's one of those experiences you never forget," Bradley said, "because you've been through so much with these people for the last four and five years, not just on the field but off the field."

No more No. 42

There was another sendoff Friday.

Young became the final UCLA player at the Rose Bowl to wear No. 42, the number popularized by Bruin icon Jackie Robinson. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero announced in 2014, on the 75th anniversary of Robinson's arrival at the school, that the number would be retired across all sports after this school year.

The same number is also worn by Bruins softball player Jelly Felix, a senior.


"I'm blessed to be in the position," Young said of wearing the number. "It was a responsibility upon myself, that I had worn it, to go out and put the jersey in a better place than I found it. And I think I did it the right way."

Injury updates

Defensive end Jaelan Phillips returned from the concussion that had sidelined him the last two games, but tight end Austin Roberts did not play because of an undisclosed injury suffered last week against USC.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch