Photo courtesy of UCLA Media Guide
When Todd Golper broke his toe, then subsequently tearing up the knee, he wasn’t sure how quick he would recover and whether he would report to spring camp in shape. Golper healed quicker than expected through hard work and strong words of encouragement from UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, family and friends. When he reported to camp, Golper was first out of all the incoming linebackers in best shape. While at Arcadia, Golper wore No. 18. Much to his pleasure, Golper will continue wearing that number at UCLA. From The Sidelines recently took some time to catch up with Golper to see how things are “Up On The Hills of Westwood,” his thoughts on UCLA football this season and teams and players to look out for in the WSGV.
From The Sidelines: You reported to camp early and enrolled early than other recruits, what was that experience like, being the last of your siblings to leave the nest?
Todd Golper: Originally it was tough leaving all my friends because i was the first to leave. In my family especially, I’m family oriented. It was tough making the transition. The classes were a lot harder than I anticipated; the amount of work we have to do. In the summer, we’re only taking two classes and in the fall three classes and in spring then I’ll be taking four. It’s definitely going to be tough, but I’m starting to get the hang of everything. Football wise I’m doing well. We’re testing currently.
FTS: Were you surprised at how quick you recovered from your injury and how quick you were not only able to get back into shape but be first out of all the incoming linebackers to come back in top shape?
TG: Yeah, definitely. I had the surgery here at UCLA so the doctor that performed it did a great job. Especially with how bad it was I was shocked how well my body progressed. But that comes with the rehab done at Arcadia and just how hard I’ve been trying to work. it definitely surprised me. They said it would be 6-12 months before I was fully ready to go and I was ready in 6 1/2 months to go and play a football game.
FTS: What’s it been like since you moved in to campus?
TG: It’s fun. The schedule is pretty ridiculous. We have eight hours of tutoring a week. We get up at 7 every day and not back in our dorms til 10 p.m. Just the amount spent in our rooms and tutoring classes, meetings is pretty amazing. They’re investing money in us to be here so they’re giving us all the opportunity to succeed.
FTS: You were one of Rick Neuheisel’s first recruits. Has his approached changed since his pursuit for you to sign now that you’re finally there?
TG: Not really. We don’t really get to see him much because in the summer they’re out with their families. But he’s still real funny with us. Every time he sees us he says hello. They normally say coaches recruit you and when they do you’re their friend when you’re a recruit, but once you’re here you’re their dogs. But for him it’s not like that at all, which didn’t surprised me at all.
FTS: The UCLA following is strong in the WSGV, particularly Pasadena. What can we expect from the Bruins this season?
TG: Seriously, there’s so much young talent here, it may take a year but this year will be huge in regards the experience everybody will be getting and the talent that will be put on the field. We’re light years of where we were last year and it really shows in practice. Our entire team has made PR’s in every facet, which you would expect from a college program but that’s not how it was the last couple of years. Just changing the culture is what everybody is trying to do. In the last couple years UCLA’s had kind of the perception we’re soft but we want to change that. There’s no showing signs of weakness.
FTS: Your dad, John, went to UCLA law school, your brother, Brian, is also attending law school there. What’s it like continuing the tradition of donning Blue & Gold?
TG It was my dream growing up to play here and now that I’m here it’s kind of like you’re floating the whole time. Nothing every really bothers me when I’m here. i just kind of throw the bad stuff aside and realize how fortunate I am to be here. This truly is a great university. You can’t beat it.
FTS: How do you juggle class, studying, practice and social life?
TG Thankfully they give us eight hours of tutoring. If we didn’t have it it would be tough. We live in a suite with three guys. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays we get all our work done. Monday through Thursday and half of Friday we’re football and class-oriented. They give us the opportunity to do well.
FTS Switching gears here. Rosemead proved to be the best team left standing in the WSGV last season. Any team you think will take upon that role this upcoming season?
TG: It’s hard to say. I really do think St. Francis is going to be a really good team. Dietrich Riley is the best football player I’ve played against other than (strong safety) Lance Mitchell (Muir High, Oregon State). Dietrich is far and beyond better than he was at his level. Dietrich is just a game-changer, period. St. Francis returns three or four lineman and Justin Posthuma is coming back at QB. Posthuma played towards the end of last year and he has the experience. They’ll be a tough team to beat this year, and they do play in a very tough league. I wouldn’t be shocked if Monrovia does well. Josh Loweden is a good kid. Nick Bueno is very very quick. Everything about (running back) Deshawn Ramirez is good, and he’s only a sophomore. Arcadia should be solid. our offensive line will be good. Taylor Lagace will play Division I football. I took him under my wing this year and pretty much tried to teach him everything I knew about football and how to approach it.
FTS: You attended the Hall of Fame Game. What was your impression of the game overall but particularly the West?
TG: I just thought we were small. it just looked like there was a huge size difference, both on the offensive and defensive line. They were just getting pushed around. I liked one of the linebackers. He played with some fire and leadership but I didn’t feel there was any leadership on the field. They just got manhandled.
FTS: What are your thoughts on Ryan Press being named full-time athletic director and the hiring of former Temple City coach Randy Backus as linebackers/running backs coach?
TG: Personally, I’ve known Ryan Press since I was a little kid. I can tell you there’s not a better man for the job just based on his personality, work ethic and intellect and just how much he cares about the Arcadia program. Arcadia has 4,000 kids yet we fielded 22 players for football, which is absolutely ridiculous for a school that size. With an athletic director that cares about the sports side other than just …. trying to survive, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arcadia’s athletic programs pick up while he’s there. Randy Backus … I had the opportunity to coach along side him and got to see how he was. He was quiet at the beginning because he felt a bit out of place, which is to be expected when you start coaching at a rival school. But once he started getting comfortable he opened up. He’s actually a pretty funny guy and he loves the game. He’ll have a good influence.
FTS: Any chance we’ll be seeing you at some Arcadia games this season?
TG: Yeah. I’m definitely going to try to make it back for the St. Francis game. The entire (UCLA) team travels to Tennessee. I’ll find out in August if I’m playing. My goal is to play. But if I’m free I’m going to try to make it as many games as I can. Right now we have a lot of linebacker depth so at this point I’m going to guess I’ll redshirt based off the depth alone. But injuries come up. College football is a tough game. But if they need me, I’ll be ready.