The NFL combine is about a month away, which means Alterraun Verner has about a month to get better.
That’s a month to work on his technique, a month to refine his coverage skills at cornerback and a month to get stronger and faster.
“You can never take anything lightly,” Verner said during a phone interview Tuesday night. “I need to fine-tune everything. Everything.”
The senior has been in Florida this week practicing in front of NFL scouts and preparing for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game. He is joined by fellow UCLA seniors Reggie Carter and Ryan Moya on the West roster.
Verner has been busy since the Bruins’ EagleBank Bowl victory over Temple in December. But with the NFL draft a mere three months away and UCLA’s pro day fast approaching, he is glad to take all the work he can get. Before leaving for Florida, Verner spent two weeks training in Phoenix.
“Tough,” Verner said of the workouts. “Tough but productive.”
Serving as extra motivation is that UCLA didn’t have any players selected in last year’s draft. Verner doesn’t have to worry about that though.
The first Bruins player taken this April will surely be Pacific 10 Conference defensive player of the year Brian Price, who leaves after a stellar junior season. Price, a defensive tackle, could be a first-round choice.
Despite the lack of pressure to get UCLA on the board, Verner knows he has to prove himself and make people proud.
“I hope that my legacy is of a young man who worked hard and tried to do everything right,” Verner said. “That’s hopefully what people think when they remember me. I tried to exemplify what a true UCLA student-athlete should be.”
He even has his own commercial:
As the Bruins walked to the visitor’s locker room minutes after UCLA’s loss to USC at the Coliseum in November, coach Rick Neuheiselput an arm around Verner, who had yet to take his helmet off.
“It meant a lot,” Verner said. “He was telling me I did my part. It kind of accumulated my years at UCLA. Now it’s time to pass the torch.”