Mojo ON: Respect

Have you followed USC’s major recruiting gains recently? Are you surprised by their success?
“Some of these kids…it’s no knock on them, they might like USC more than they like UCLA. But a lot of kids nowadays don’t want that challenge to be that guy who has to step up, to have to be the guy week in and week out. When you go to a school that’s already established, you just go out and play. It’s easy. You’re not going through anything tough. Everyone can play. When you go to UCLA, you’re rebuilding, and getting it together. That’s what I respect. Guys who go to schools like an Arizona State and bring them up, go to Baylor, get them up. Maybe TCU, and make them better. Those are the guys you can respect. I don’t like to knock kids, because they’re young and doing what’s best for them, but my big thing coming out of high school was turning somebody into a winner. I’d won so much in high school, I wanted to take what I learned there and bring it to a school that was on the verge of something great.”

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How do you think Rick Neuheisel’s done in his time at UCLA?
Maurice Jones-Drew: “He’s definitely bringing in a lot of good athletes from all over the country. They’re not just focusing on the West coast. They’re really going everywhere to grab kids and bring them over. They understand what it is to be a Bruin. He’s breeding that winning way. He wants hard workers, not just guys who can play. He doesn’t mind telling the guys if they’re not doing it right.”

What’s the next step for Neuheisel and the program?
“What I really think he’s done is built a foundation of players who want to play. That’s all you need in college. You want players who want to play and want to be great. When I was coming out – I came from De La Salle, a winning program – and I could’ve gone to USC, I could’ve gone to Texas, I could’ve gone to Oklahoma. I wanted to go someplace where my legacy could be left. I went to the school at 6-6, when I left, we were 10-2. We went through the adversity, we built all these good things. That’s what these kids are starting to understand: You become more of a man when you go somewhere that is not already established. You see who you are. When you have to go through that conditioning, when you lose 52-14 to Arizona when you’re No. 8 in the country, these are things you deal with. It builds character, and I think that’s what Coach Neuheisel is doing.”

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Maurice Jones-Drew ON: Winning

Talk about your status as an NFL running back now…
Maurice-Jones Drew: “My main thing now is just to do whatever it takes to win. The yards are cool and everything, but at the end of the day, I want to win a championship. That’s the attitude going around. Individual things are going to happen when your team is successful. You’re going to get all the accolades, everything you want. But you have to keep that team-first mentality. Winning has to be the goal.”

How has your attitude on winning changed the last couple years?
MJD: “My attitude towards winning has changed a little bit. I dunno, I’m just a sore loser, man. I hate losing. That’s what rubs people the wrong way. To me, the only thing that should matter is winning. You get into the NFL, you get money that comes in the way, family, guys have different attitudes. We clash a little bit. At the end of the day, I want to win. I could care less about anything else. The last year I won was really at UCLA.”

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