LOS ANGELES ---Eric Kendricks returned to Westwood late Friday night after a trip home to Fresno.
He wasnt pleased with what he would encounter when he took the practice field on Saturday afternoon. With Kendricks experiencing soreness in his shoulder, UCLA head coach Jim Mora thought it would be a good day to hold his linebacker out of team activities --a theoretical day off.
When I told him he wasnt going to get to do some of the team stuff today, he probably wanted to strangle me, Mora said. He just loves to play football and you love that about him.
All Kendricks has known since his mom allowed him to play organized football as a sixth grader is work. He learned that from his older brother, Mychal.
Friday proved to be a culmination of lessons learned from his older brother. In fact, Kendricks return home was to be there in support of big bro.
With the 46th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Mychal.
Older brother was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last season at Cal. Eric was thrilled to be there for him as he accomplished his dream of making it to the NFL.
It was indescribable, said Eric of hearing his older brothers name called. Its crazy seeing that guy work and all his dreams come true. Its unreal.
Eric has turned some heads this spring. A new opportunity presented itself with the new coaching staff. Eric performed well during practices for the Bruins in 2011 but on Saturdays didnt see the field as much as he would have liked.
It was frustrating, Eric said of the 2011 season, but thats last year.
Despite his frustration, he was second on the team in tackles last season with 77 and also registered two sacks in 14 games. However, he only started in three games.
Eric didnt make any excuses. He just went back to what he knows work.
He immersed himself inside the Bruins' new defensive playbook, and is trying to make sure he leaves no stone unturned.
I want to be able to make the calls. I want to be able to know whats going on on offense. I want to know everything there is to know on defense, Eric said.
Added Mora, Hes a pretty self-motivated kid."
Eric has always had a sense of needing to prove himself. Growing up he always hung out with older people. He spent a lot of time getting beat up on by Mychal, who is 17-months older, and his friends.
I always had to come back and show that I belong, Eric said. I felt like thats really helped my competitive edge.
As the younger brother, theres always the challenge of trying to be acknowledged as Eric, instead of Mychals younger brother.
Im trying to create my own self. Everybody talks about my brother this, my brother that. Im my own person. We might have some similarities but for the most part, were different.
(I need to) bring what I got to bring to the table and show what I (can) bring.
This spring, hes brought a lot. Of course, theres always more work to do.