By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — With the Patriots calling UCLA home during their stay in Los Angeles, Matthew Slater is back to being the big man on campus. The Bruins alumni is back at his old stomping grounds, and he’s loving every second of it.

“I bust out a new UCLA shirt every day,” Slater told reporters Tuesday night.

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New England’s special teams ace isn’t joking, either.

Slater is bringing his teammates on his trip down memory lane, sharing stories from his college days with the Bruins. They’ve cracked a few jokes at his expense along the way, calling the school “The House That Slater Built.” But Slater is still loving life back on campus.

On Tuesday night, he spoke of everything that his time at UCLA taught him, highlighting the impact that it had on his life off the football field.

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“It’s been great to be back here. This place means so much to me for so many reasons. I truly believe some of my most important, formative years happened at this university,” he said. “And when I say that, I mean well beyond what happened on the football field. I came in here a 17-year old-kid and I left with a better idea of who I was as a man and what I wanted to stand for and represent.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in California, Slater hasn’t been able to do too much around campus. He wasn’t able to meet with the football team, as head coach Bill Belichick did on Tuesday, but he has taken a few strolls around the grounds. He made sure to stop by Powell Library and checked out the athletic facilities, both of which have had some upgrades since he last stepped foot on campus.

“I forgot how much walking you have to do here; a lot of space to cover. It has brought back a lot of good memories,” he said. “I texted some old buddies from college, sent them a couple pictures. So, I’m thankful for this time to be back here.”

A week in Los Angeles is a trip back home for Slater, though he isn’t able to see his father, mother or brother because of COVID-19. But these two games in L.A. could be the 35-year-old’s first and last in his home city, so they carry a lot of sentimental meaning to Slater and his family.

“It means a great deal. I think of what my dad did here professionally, how well he represented our family name,” Slater said of his Hall of Famer father, Jackie, who played his entire career with the Rams organization. “This could be the last time a Slater plays football in L.A. We are certainly aware of that and we appreciate this opportunity. What a joy it’s been for me to represent my dad and carry on his legacy as best I can.

“The game of football has been great to us, and we’re very aware of that. We’re very thankful for all the experiences, all the relationships that this game has brought us,” added Slater. “And certainly, when you think about Los Angeles, it’s a special place to my family and I.”

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WBZ gets you ready for Thursday night’s Patriots-Rams game starting Wednesday night with Patriots All Access at 7 p.m. After the Patriots and the Rams are done Thursday night, tune in to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

CBSBoston.com Staff