Terry Tumey remembers sitting at home in Tulsa, Okla., watching the bowl games on television on Jan. 1, 1983, flipping back and forth, trying to keep track of all the games until he got so involved in the Rose Bowl game between UCLA and Michigan that he stopped flipping.
And what did Tumey like best about that Rose Bowl game? The play of Bruin nose guard Karl Morgan, of course.
"Oklahoma was recruiting me as a linebacker, and UCLA was recruiting me as a nose guard," Tumey said. "So when I watched UCLA, I was watching him play nose guard.
"It was funny. When I came here on my visit, Karl looked at me and said, 'You know, you kind of look like me.' Lots of people say that.
"When I came to report, he was still around and he said, 'You're wearing my number. I want to see something.'
"I wish I had had the chance to play behind him, but he was gone when I got here. He's doing well for Tampa Bay right now. If I could have half the talent of Karl Morgan, I'd be happy."
Tumey might be leaning to the modest side on that last point, but he's right about the rest of it. The guy wearing No. 40 and starting at nose guard this season does look a lot like the No. 40 who made the big plays to give UCLA a victory over USC and to help UCLA to a victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl three years ago.
UCLA's defensive line coach, Greg Robinson, said: "Karl and Terry have the same kind of build--the smaller, quicker nose guard. Karl is a little bigger (245 pounds to Tumey's 232, both about 6-2) and maybe a little stronger. Terry's a little quicker. But they're the same type.
"Like Karl, Terry has real good instincts. To play nose guard, you have to have good quickness and instincts because you're so close to the ball.
"They both have exceptional talent. Terry showed last year that he is also a big-play kind of guy."
Last season, as a second-year freshman, Tumey played behind Chris Block, with Block starting and handling most of the run defense and Tumey going in on expected pass plays. He finished the season with 42 tackles and five sacks--including the sack of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar that caused a fumble recovered by UCLA to save the Fiesta Bowl victory.
And Robinson is not the only one to notice another way in which Tumey is similar to Morgan. "He's a strong individual; he has character," Robinson said. "You get a good feeling from him. The players sense it. That gives him a good leadership quality.
"He's young, but he has stepped to the front."
Other players mention that. Even defensive tackle Mark Walen, a fifth-year player and the only senior on the defensive line, brought up Tumey's name when making the point that leaders don't have to be seniors.
Every time Coach Terry Donahue says that although his defensive squad is young, it's not bad, he's talking about players like Terry Tumey.
On paper, Tumey might be shrugged off. Starting at nose guard--a 6-2 sophomore who has never started a college game.
But other facts show that he had more plays at that position last season than the starter, that he has been one of the most dedicated weightlifters and that he made the most of his redshirt season in 1983, becoming the co-winner of the award for the outstanding scout player.
Talk with him and there's no doubt that he is wise beyond the usual sophomore level.
Tumey doesn't mumble the right words and phrases to match the situation. When he talks about learning from Block last year or respecting Jim Wahler, the freshman behind him, or understanding why that redshirt year was necessary, he does so with an animated enthusiasm that is quite convincing.
It is obvious that he has thought all of these things through, that he's where he wanted to be at the start of his third year at UCLA and that he has the whole picture in focus.
He withstood the hard rush from Oklahoma (including a visit from Pastor Tisdale, father of basketball player Wayman Tisdale) to stay at home, because "I didn't want to stagnate."
He decided early on redshirting that first year, because "it takes the average student five years to get a degree, and I want to leave here with a degree" and because "college football is such a big-time thing now, there's a lot to learn before you can go out there and just count on instinct."
That first year away from home, not playing, is tough, especially for a four-sport athlete (football, wrestling, track and baseball) who is used to competition. And especially for a guy who is so close to his family. Tumey has one of those "special" mothers. The subject of mom brings the same glow that a sack brings. He also has a father and two older sisters that he missed. "The phone company made a lot of money on me that first year," he said. "I was pure profit."
Last season, things started to come together, and now, he's ready to go.
Robinson expects him to be a three-year starter.