UCLA’s Eli Ankou, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end, made his first appearance at practice on Wednesday. He’s had a pretty long day going back to a nine-hour flight from Ottawa to Los Angeles, and the layover in Philadelphia didn’t help. But Ankou is excited to be Bruin. He was surprised and excited when he learned that the Bruins needed him now. So after a few days of sorting out paper work Ankou is finally here to add depth on the defensive line.
“I was surprised but definitely, definitely excited,” Ankou said. “That was one thing I wanted to do was come in early and show the coaches what I’m capable of.”
UCLA coach Jim Mora said that realistically Ankou won’t see playing time until next year.
“Eli’s a talented young man who hasn’t played a lot of American football,” Mora said. “He’s a hard worker and very smart but he’s still got a lot to learn in terms of technique but I know he’ll work at it.”
Ankou didn’t slack just because he was going to greyshirt. If anything, he took his training regiment up to another level.
“As soon as I heard the word greyshirt it was all boosters on,” Ankou said. “For a lot of weeks I was doing five days a week. A lot of squats, leg, power, speed, agility.”
Ankou’s front squad max was 380 pounds; bench press 375 pounds; and power clean 280.
Mora said UCLA didn’t monitor his conditioning. That was all on Ankou, who has always been good about keeping up with conditioning.
“If you look at Eli you can tell he’s the kind of kid that takes a lot of pride in keeping himself physically fit,” Mora said. “He’s big and strong looking, and yet still lean. I think he does a good job of taking care of his body. When we recruited him that was the feedback we got from people we talked to, that he was a contentious kid.”
Ankou is not likely to play Saturday against Nebraska. But he’ll be dressed for the game, and is now closer to the Rose Bowl than he was in Ottawa.