Datone Jones after UCLA practice:
Q: for Fox Sports, I’m Annabel Stephan, out here at UCLA’s Spaulding Field, alongside the one and only, Datone Jones.
Datone, seeing your regular season, PAC-12 championship behind you, how are you feeling right now, knowing that you guys had so much success on the field?
DJ: been a great year for us. Just us coming together. This brotherhood’s been special. Every year has been special for us. But this is my last year. For the guys to come together this year and hold it down for UCLA, it’s just been a wonderful journey.
Q: there’s a great group of seniors on this team. How did you guys really rise about everyone else and be that leader and show them discipline and all of those things that were maybe lacking in the program before?
DJ: you know, it all didn’t start in one day. After the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year, we all came together. We had a meeting out here at 5 AM. Talked about the issues that we had. Talked about everything that needed to be on the table. So that this brotherhood could be special. And that we did. We held one another accountable. And you could just see it in our play, our practices for the games. It’s just been wonderful.
Q: how did you guys handle… with those wins, I know you have that 24-hour rule, but to not let that get to your head and be able to perform and do what you needed to do week after week?
DJ: we just had to buy into our coach. Our coach brought that to us. He’s from the NFL, and a lot of guys have aspiring dreams of playing at the next level. So if the coach says he’s been at that level, we’re 100% bought in. It’s whatever he says. It just helped out one another’s game.
Q: you hit up on that “next level” thing. Got to ask you. You had a terrific senior season. Have you been thinking about the NFL draft at all?
DJ: it came across my head a lot. But I haven’t really been thinking about it [lately]. I was thinking about Baylor football. The team we’re playing in a bowl game. Baylor. And I’m just ready to play my last college football game with my teammates.
Q: to be a talented player, people know who you are. Does that ever add more pressure or anything when you’re on the field?
DJ: not at all. You just have to be the same guy every day. You can’t have an ego. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you have an ego, I don’t think you’ll get far in this business. Just have to come out here and practice hard. The younger guys are watching you. Become that leader. Become that guy. And just repeat it every day without an ego. That’s pretty much it.
Q: with the Holiday Bowl just a couple of weeks away, are there any things, any goals that you’re really hoping to attain in that game?
DJ: no goals. Just come out with a win. To have fun with my brothers on the journey there. Just take it in, these last few practices. It’s my last time putting on a Bruins uniform so it’s going to be a special one. I might shed a few tears. But it’s going to be a good game, and I can’t wait.
Q: what do you think has really been the highlight of your career as a Bruin?
DJ: there’s too many. There’s no specific one. If I had to think, I’d be out here for hours just trying to remember it. There hasn’t been one. I know the ‘SC win was my first one, but there’s way more special moments. I can go back to when we were in camp and the hard days. The grinding days when no one wanted to be there. We just turned it from a negative to something really positive for us. So that’s probably one of them right there.
Q: do you think the Baylor offense is ready for the Bruins defense?
DJ: they’re going to be ready to play. They’re a good team. They beat the #1 team in the country, Kansas State. They’re not going to come to California unprepared. They have a great coach, they have great players, and a great system. Great receiver, great quarterback and running back. They’re going to come out hard and ready to play and it’s going to be a great competitive game. We just can’t wait to play.
Q: well, we can’t wait to watch you guys play. Thank you so much. Congratulations on a terrific season.
Keep it here at Fox Sports, for all of the latest on your UCLA Bruins, alongside Datone Jones, I’m Annabel Stephan. Fox Sports.