Jeff Baca will trot onto the field today as UCLA's starting left tackle, the first time the Bruins have started a true freshman on the offensive line since Shannon Tevaga in 2004.
Baca, who this time last year was playing for Mission Viejo High, will be asked to help improve a running game that ranks 117th out of 119 major-college teams, as well as protect quarterback Kevin Craft's blind side.
That's a big order for anyone, even if he's 6 feet 4, 280 pounds.
But Baca knows it's an honor. And he knows what's expected.
"Nothing is set in stone," he said. "I have to prove I deserve to be out there."
Baca was thrust into the lineup in the third quarter last week, when starter Micah Kia experienced back spasms.
"There is so much more I have to learn," Baca said. "I have to keep my knee bent. I've got to get lower. I made a lot of freshman mistakes.
"The game showed me that practice is much more important. You have to value each rep and make it into a game situation."