UCLA football players ran into a wall they couldn't go over or get past this week … senior tackle Micah Kia.
There was talk among players about ditching practice Tuesday with an "Over the Wall" day, a UCLA football tradition.
The idea didn't get past Kia.
"I just told boys, ‘No, we're not going over the wall,' " Kia said. "I wasn't the only player to disagree. I was the one who kind of said something about it. We have a lot of long-term goals, and in order to reach them every practice counts."
Bruins seniors got their day of rest Thursday, spending practice as "coaches." But for more than 20 years that day of rest extended to the whole team, as players go through warmups, then bolt through the gate and out of spring practice.
It was a tradition Coach Rick Neuheisel has tried to squash, as he told players, "We have not won a Rose Bowl here since we started going over the wall during spring practice."
Still, there was a groundswell to take Tuesday off. Then Kia stepped in.
"He told us we were football players and there were certainly responsibilities that came with that," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "He said it's our obligation to take advantage of every opportunity to get better."
Kia knows full-well the value of that, having missed last season after sustaining a torn knee ligament in August. His work has paid off as he is atop the depth chart at left tackle. Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said that Kia, Sean Sheller and Mike Harris will get first crack at winning the two tackle spots.
Lights, camera …
The Bruins will play their annual spring game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday at 7 p.m. Admission is free and gates open at 3 p.m. for tailgating.
"I want to see a lights-out scrimmage, with everybody flying around, players that we're counting on to make some big plays and get game confidence and all that," Neuheisel said. "Then, when I blow the whistle and say that's enough, nobody is walking into the training room."
Defensive end Damien Holmes got a tryout at tight end Thursday. The Bruins are thin at the position, as Joseph Fauria and Corey Harkey are the only tight ends on scholarship.
John Young, a tight end from Los Angeles Loyola High, arrives in August, but Neuheisel said, "I've got to prepare for an emergency. I don't know where John Young will be. I have to make sure I have some answers."
Holmes will return to defense for Saturday's scrimmage.