Paul Mociler, the redshirt senior offensive lineman, has a lot to look back in his experience of playing football at UCLA.
In your UCLA career, what are some of the moments that stand out? What have been the most rewarding, and the most trying?
"The most trying have been the last four years. I had a lot of struggles. I'm glad ultimately I perserved and stuck through it. I've had a very memorable senior season. I think this season, as a whole, I have a lot of great memories from it. That Washington game was something special. Then going to Oregon, and winning there. We ran 12:54 off the clock in the fourth quarter. That was huge. It's just one of those things you take pride in, as a lineman. Those are things that linemen take to heart. Drew getting 322 yards against Washington. In that game we ran 7 minutes off the game off the clock at the end of the game. We should have ended the game with the ball in our hands as well, but the ref made a bad call. But some of those types of things, typical linemen things. If Drew had a good game, then we had a good game. If Chris Markey has a good game, or Manuel White has a good game, we had a good game. So it's been good. This past year has been fun. In year's past, I enjoyed traveling. I enjoyed going to Alabama, and playing in Tuscaloosa. It was a lot of fun, just that experience. Going to play at Oklahoma, and at Oklahoma State, Illinois, and Colorado."
Was coming back from your injury pretty trying?
"That actually wasn't as bad. I blew out my knee in the last game of my senior season in high school. I ended up being cleared by fall camp entering my freshman year in college. It was about 9 months of a rehab process. That was pretty impressive, considering I wasn't here at UCLA yet, and didn't have the UCLA resources, for rehab treatment and things like that. That was a big accomplishment for me. It was trying then to get here and not really playing well. That was the most trying thing, not feeling like I was contributing."
Were there some moments in there you might never turn it around. When you finally found your place and were successful that must have been pretty satisfying...
"Oh, absolutely. Even last year it was better. But then in the last season, entering the season knowing I was starting, knowing because I worked hard in the off-season, knowing I was going to get a shot, that was big. I was still excited about last season. It didn't turn out right because of a certain amount of factors involved. But it was a growing experience, a life experience, that I really benefitted from. Then having (offensive line (coach) Tom Cable come in and he's just really rejuvenated this offense and this offensive line. I think he's been the biggest asset for this team. He's a phenomenal coach and extremely knowledgeable about the game in every aspect, just not techniques. He knows how to play the game, and knows what it takes at the college level."
Was your father's health issues pretty tough also?
"Yeah, I had some personal issues. My dad became very ill. He was in intensive care for a couple of weeks, just a couple of weeks before I blew out my knee in high school."
It was a couple of years for him to recover, right?
"Oh, yeah. He still has issues. Originally it was his gall bladder had a couple of stones, that blocked a bile duct, and all of his bile duct backed up. And he got septisemia, which is a poisoning of the blood. So he got rushed to urgent care and he was stablized. They said he was this close to leaving us. He was also diabetic and his diabetes then flared up badly. He had a crippled diaphragm after leaving the hospital. I guess it's very rare for both sides of the diaphragm to be crippled. So he had a very shortness of breath. This happened mostly my senior year in high school, but it went on through college. For six months he couldn't sleep lying down, and had to sleep in a chair, because that was the best way he could breathe. But football kind of offered a chance to go out on the field and focus on something else. Thankfully my dad made it through. He still has some things here and there. A few months back he had to go on antibiotic IV."
Were there other off-the-field things?
"This last spring I actually became a father. It was a huge experience in my life, obviously. His name is Lucas and he's almost eight months old now. The mother was a high school girlfriend of mine. Things are good now, but things were extremely hard, extremely stressful for a while. I actually found out she was pregnant right after the first game of the year last year, after the Colorado game. So it was very trying. My son's a wonderful little kid. He's a great kid."
Is he big for his age?
"Yeah. You know, when he was born he was average size. I get to see him about once a week. They leave near my parents house, and my parents watch him a few times a week. I'm glad my family is around him, and I try to see him as much as I can. Every time I see him he looks like he's grown another foot. He's up to about 20 pounds and 28 inches. He's getting big."
What's your opinion of the program, from when you first got here to now?
"I think the program's definitely headed in the right direction. When I got here they were coming off a couple of trying years, but they did have a few very successful years. That's why I came here, to be successful, and win a Pac-10 championship and a national championship. Unfortunately those trying years continued to persist. As to why I'm not really sure. Since (Head) Coach (Karl) Dorrell is here, he's changed things. He really has his heart in this program. He's really trying to instill tradition, pride and commitment, and accountability. I think that's really what this program needed. It needed some responsibility and maturity to it. I think that's what he's trying to instill. And I think that's what coach Cable brings also. He's someone who is responsible and can develop players mentally and physically. I think he knows when to press guys and when not to. I think we're on an upswing right now. Yeah, we went through some speed bumps this year. But we're on our way to breaking out and getting over the hump. The sky's the limit for this program now."
Is it in a better spot than anytime you've been here?
"Probably. My second year when DeShaun Foster was here for his senior season, we had a phenomenal year. We were second or third in the rankings. It was such a phenomenal year, but the team fell apart at the end. And that's happened again in the last three years. I think that's the difference between the program now and then. We have more commitment, more accountability, to the team, coaches and to each other. I think that's what's pushing us further. There are still things the program has to work on. But in that regard, I think we're in a much better spot now."
Where are you academically?
"I should just have two classes next quarter. Just those two and I'm done. Spanish and a U.S. History class. I'm a history major. After that I have two directions. I'll first try to pursue football as much as I can. I'll talk to my coaches after the season and see what kind of opportunities lie there. Otherwise, I'd like to pursue firefighting. I'd like to get my certification and work at parademic training. Ultimately I'd like to be a firefighter. I would also love to travel. As soon as I find some time, my sister and I are going to go to Europe."
So, in a nutshell, what are some of the few things you'll remember the most?
"I'll remember the struggles, definitely. But more important I'll remember overcoming them. That's a big deal, you know. Coach Cable always says that football is so great because it's a game that mimics life. I never really understood that when he first said it. I always thought football was just punishment. But this past year, seeing how this game can be, and how you can enjoy it, it's changed my perspective on the game. It really does have all the ups and downs, struggles and triumphs of life."