LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Zumwalt shudders to think about what would have happened had he not been wearing a helmet last week when he was hit by a car while riding his motor scooter.
"I probably would have been splattered," he said.
Zumwalt, a starting outside linebacker for the UCLA Bruins, returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since needing about 150 stitches to repair a gash above his left eye. He was not yet cleared for contact, but that's the least of Zumwalt's concerns.
Last Sunday, the day after UCLA lost to Oregon State, Zumwalt was riding his scooter in Westwood when he struck the side of a car making a left-hand turn. He slammed his head on the car, face first.
"I probably can’t speak for all football players but we like to think we’re pretty tough guys and sometimes pretty invincible, you know," Zumwalt said. "It was pretty humbling to get welted by a car like that and see my body just bleed everywhere. I haven’t seen that before. Hopefully never again."
Zumwalt is one of many UCLA students who ride a motor scooter to get around the congested Westwood area. They offer a convenient mode of transportation in an area where parking is notoriously difficult and expensive, especially on campus. Still, Zumwalt said he wouldn't replace his scooter, which was mangled in the accident.
"I’m retiring the scooters," Zumwalt said. "Definitely retiring the scooters."
The gash on his forehead and a few scrapes were the only damage Zumwalt suffered. There was no bone or structural damage and the only thing that has kept him from getting cleared to play is the inability to wear a football helmet without aggravating the wound. He said he tried on a helmet Tuesday and "felt fine" but did not practice with a helmet on Tuesday.
"He had his pads on but didn’t have his helmet on," coach Jim Mora said. "He’s feeling good he was running around. He looked good running around and we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to play."
Zumwalt, one of UCLA's hardest hitters, stayed home last week and watched on television as UCLA defeated Colorado, 42-14. It was difficult, Zumwalt said, but the accident gave him a new perspective on football.
"Honestly, I’ve hit people before and I think, 'man that was a hard hit,'" he said. "I didn't know what the heck I was talking about until I get hit by a car."
The memory of getting hit that hard and the damage incurred on his face compelled Zumwalt to offer a suggestion.
"If there is any message I could say to anyone who rides a motorcycle or a scooter is get a full face helmet," Zumwalt said.