Brian Price doesn’t like wasting time.

When the center snaps the ball, the junior defensive tackle from Crenshaw wants to be in the backfield, wreaking havoc on the opposing team and making big plays for the UCLA football team.

Put simply, Brian Price is in the “playmaking business.”

“If I’m in the backfield, I’m looking to make a play,” Price said. “I don’t like wasting time with O-linemen. I just like playmaking business. I feel like if I make a play, the defense will get rowdy and everybody starts making plays. And then they’ll feed off my energy, and I’ll feed off their energy.”

More than halfway through spring practice, Price has made sure to make himself known. After practice one evening, coach Rick Neuheisel said jokingly that Price had become such a force up the middle that it was making it difficult for the offensive line to get anything productive done. A reporter continued with the joke, asking Neuheisel if he thought about sitting Price out a few plays so the offensive line could get something accomplished.

Neuheisel’s response: “If I could just get the other teams next year to sit some of their guys, then that might be a good idea.”

For Price, the desire to make as many plays as he can with the intense passion he plays with every snap comes from a difficult, but valuable, lesson he learned in his freshman year at UCLA.

At the start of the 2007 season, Price was forced to sit out the Bruins’ first three games due to paperwork issues with the NCAA. After the issues were resolved, Price appeared in 10 games during the season, starting five.

But that time away from football was extremely tough for Price.

“It was real hard, especially if you love the game,” Price said. “Being stripped away from the game, it was hard. Something very important was taken from me, so it taught me a valuable lesson: Just go hard every down, because you never know when it’s your last play. When I came back, I just came back with a vengeance, with a chip on my shoulder.

“Chip’s still on my shoulder.”

Last season Price started in all 12 games for the Bruins, leading the team with 14.0 tackles for loss en route to a first-team All-Pac-10 selection by the conference’s coaches.

Helping Price last year was the presence of defensive tackle Brigham Harwell, whom Price referred to as the big brother for the entire team. He said Harwell provided the Bruins with leadership, wisdom, passion and a force up the middle.

Now that Harwell has departed, senior Jerzy Siewierski takes over his position at defensive tackle. And now the leadership role falls to Price.

“I think he’s become a leader and he’s leading by example,” defensive line coach Todd Howard said. “He’s become more vocal. … His freshman year, we had Bruce Davis and Kevin Brown. Obviously those were the leaders. And then last year Brigham was the leader. This year we’re looking at him and Jerzy and (Korey Bosworth) ““ those guys are pretty much the leaders of the defense.”

According to Price, everyone is trying to learn how to be that vocal presence needed on the defensive line and the team as a whole.

“Everyone knows when you have a feeling when you have to step up into a role,” Price said. “I felt it was my time to be that vocal leader on the D-line.”

Siewierski said he believes Price is one of the best players he has ever played with, and what makes Price so effective is his explosive first step.

“He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen off the ball,” Siewierski said. “I think just his ability to get off the ball before the offensive line can get to him lets him disrupt.”

Price agreed with Siewierski’s assessment and said he enjoys watching film of defensive ends, such as Reggie White and Michael Strahan.

“I was a D-end at heart,” Price said.

This season, the defensive line will be relied on to be the strength of not only the Bruin defense but the entire team. And for Siewierski, that’s just fine.

“Our mantra is toughness, and we want to come out here and we want to prove it,” Siewierski said. “We don’t want to go 4-8 again. We want to come out here and hit people in the mouth.”

And for Price, that toughness comes from not taking anything for granted, a lesson he learned and won’t soon forget.

“You never know when it’s your last time, so just leave it with no doubt.”