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UCLA football: Players go over the wall, ditch practice

December 15, 2009 |  1:24 pm

UCLA players resurrected an old tradition today, one that Coach Rick Neuheisel thought he had successfully ended in spring practice. The Bruins went through stretching drills, then bolted over the wall just after Neuheisel told them, “Let’s have a great effort today.”

UCLA-logo Most of the players went over the wall and sprinted to the locker room after clearing the wall. This was the Bruins' third practice in preparation to play Temple in the EagleBank Bowl Dec. 29.

“They caught us all by surprise with this one,” Neuheisel said. “I do compliment them on the choice of days, when we are still getting back into football mode. I am pleased with the leadership in terms of the choice.”

The first two practices had mostly been spent looking at younger players. Neuheisel said they wouldn’t begin installing the Temple game plan until Thursday. No player owned up to be the ringleader, but those close to the team said that senior linebacker Reggie Carter was involved.

The tradition, Neuheisel said, began in 1980, prior to the Bruins' regular season finale against Oregon State in Japan, which was called the Mirage Bowl. He appeared more agreeable with this incident than when players bolted from spring practice in 2008.

“Spring practice is now only 15 days, and we convinced the guys not to do this,” Neuheisel said. “We went through the history of ‘Wall Day,’ that it started before a bowl game. They gave us what we wanted in spring, but they did remember it was during bowl games that you could do it.”

Terrence Austin, a senior wide receiver, said the idea popped up in the locker room this morning.

“We kind of wanted to have a complete season and decided to get this in,” Austin said. “We promised coach we wouldn’t do it unless we got a bowl. We decided to get it out of the way early so we could get back to work for the Washington, D.C. game. We didn’t want it to interfere with business.”

Not all players seemed on board with the plan. Asked if he was aware of the plan, senior quarterback Kevin Craft said, “no," tersely. Senior tight end Logan Paulsen declined to comment.

Neuheisel said the coaches would spend extra time reviewing Temple game tapes.

“This will be fine,” Neuheisel said. “We’ll make this a positive.”

-- Chris Foster