Brett Hundley Named UCLA Starting QB (via UCLA)
In a move that surprises absolutely no one, Brett Hundley has been named UCLA's starting quarterback over Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel. The redshirt freshman was all but anointed the next great UCLA quarterback when he stepped onto campus last year and after a year of sitting, watching and practicing while the Bruins failed to get good quarterback play, he was ready to take the job this year.
"All four quarterbacks have raised their level of play significantly since my staff and I took over, and we are excited about all of them," said Jim Mora. "That said, Brett has consistently demonstrated the qualities we value in a starting quarterback and is an outstanding leader who commands the respect of his teammates. He has shown excellent decision-making skills, and his accuracy and timing continue to improve with each practice. In addition, he has shown the mobility and creativity needed when a play breaks down."
The announcement comes on day seven of fall camp, which is about the time frame that most expect for Mora to announce his start. He said after spring practice that he had an idea who his starter would be, but that it wasn't set in stone yet. He reiterated that at Pac-12 Media Day so it wasn't going to be long before that idea became concrete and today it did.
By almost all accounts, Hundley was the Bruins' best quarterback in the spring. He was the most accurate and consistent, turning in at least passable performances on his bad days, which couldn't be said for Prince, Brehaut or Neuheisel. His youth didn't show as he commanded the huddle well and while he did make some mistakes that reeked of inexperience, he did well to not make the same mistake twice.
When Hundley carried that play into fall camp, the competition was almost all but over. He is the better pure pocket quarterback of the foursome and that doesn't even take into account his scrambling ability, which just adds to his allure.
Finally, this is a move that sends a message -- UCLA is going in a new direction. This isn't one of Rick Neuheisel's QB's (even if he was recruited by Neuheisel, he never played for him) like Prince and Brehaut were. This is a new guy, whose entire career will be under Mora. He is also the most talented guy, not the most experienced guy and in the past experience trumped all. Messages get lost quickly and nobody will care about the message in a year, but that doesn't mean that the message doesn't matter now or for the rest of fall camp.
The big question is still whether or not Hundley can stay upright. UCLA hasn't been able to keep a quarterback healthy for almost a decade and while some of that has been bad luck, some of that has also been the quarterbacks getting pummeled. The Bruins have questions on the offensive line and if they can't figure out a way to protect Hundley then it won't matter how good he is or if anyone else is under center.
There is nothing that Hundley can't do physically. He has an accurate enough arm that is improving as Noel Mazzone settles his feet, he can make the throw to the far sideline so arm strength isn't a question and he has good mobility. He is also exceptionally bright with proven leadership abilities. Remember, this is the West's best QB recruit from a year ago so we are talking about an outstanding talent. There is no lack of ability here and the potential is tantalizing. If you want to get giddy, go right ahead.
So the Bruins have a quarterback and that is step one. Now it is time to get him ready for the start of the season, which is less than three weeks away. That is step two, and a big step considering that Hundley has never played a college game, but the third and bigger step is keeping his body in one piece. Fingers crossed.