Quarterback Josh Rosen is our third “Bruin in the Spotlight”.
After a shoulder injury and less than stellar 2016 season, UCLA junior Josh Rosen looks for a comeback in the upcoming 2017 season. Rosen suffered an injury in game six against Arizona State that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. With eight weeks left before the start of the season, Rosen continues to prepare himself and hopes to bring the program back to the level it was at under his predecessor Brett Hundley.
While many athletes know from a very young age the sport they want to pursue later in life, that wasn’t necessarily the case for Rosen. The Manhattan Beach native played tennis the majority of his life until he decided to pursue football in high school. He was introduced to football in elementary school but did not fully commit until high school. In high school, he had several excellent seasons, especially his senior year. In his final year, Rosen threw for 3,186 yards for a total of 8,473 all four years. He also threw a total of 90 touchdowns in four years. To round out an impressive final season, Rosen was named the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year and the Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year.
After verbally committing to UCLA in 2014, Rosen enrolled in classes at UCLA in January 2015. By enrolling in winter classes, it allowed Rosen to participate in Spring Football and compete to be the starting quarterback when the position was vacated by Brett Hundley who left UCLA after three seasons to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Hundley was later chosen in the fifth round as the 147th pick by the Green Bay Packers. The QB competition came down to Rosen and Jerry Neuheisel. Early enrollment was the best way for Rosen to make a case for himself as the starter for the upcoming season.
Rosen’s decision paid off. He was named the starting quarterback and despite being a true freshman. However, this decision didn’t come as a surprise or without some drama. During training camp that year, head coach Jim Mora ripped into his freshman quarterback one day during practice in front of the media. With the position his, Rosen was able to put his sole focus on his first college season. He started off his college career where he finished off in high school.
Josh Rosen had a very good freshman season. He spent it breaking records. The list includes most passing yards in a season by a true freshman, most touchdown passes thrown by a true freshman, most passing yards per game in a season. While Rosen broke some records, sadly, the team as a whole finished with an 8–5 record. While it is impressive to have a true freshman quarterback set the records he did, it does not mean much if the team doesn’t benefit from it and football is a team sport. So, blaming Rosen solely for a disappointing season isn’t really fair.
In his sophomore season, Rosen looked to build on his freshman success, but, last year did not go as planned. He started the first six games until in the game vs. Arizona State, Rosen was injured and he was sidelined the remainder of the season. After some tests, Rosen had to have surgery on his throwing shoulder to repair some soft-tissue damage. He had surgery in November. Overall, things did not go well for the Bruins who finished the season 4–8. Hopefully, things will get better with Rosen almost back to his past form.
As we move towards Fall Camp, Bruin head coach Jim Mora has rightfully taken some criticism for seemingly trying to hide Rosen from the media. Rosen’s health, while not the sole question for the Bruins, is a major concern for the team and for the fans. Yet, Mora has opted to bring Scott Quessenberry to Pac-12 Media Days later this month as the team’s offensive representative, instead of Rosen. This has some saying that Mora is trying to hide Rosen from the media, while Mora’s defenders have claimed that he only brings seniors to the event as a matter of policy. The problem is that Mora has brought juniors to the Pac-12 Media Days before. Most recently, he took Deon Hollins to the event just two years ago.
Regardless, considering that many think this will be Rosen’s last season in Westwood, the decision to bring Quessenberry rather than Rosen was certainly surprising.
Since Rosen’s freshman year, things have not gone well for the Bruins. Since his injury, some have questioned if he would be able to live up to his potential. There will be a lot of questions about Josh Rosen when he makes his return in early September under his third offensive coordinator in three seasons. There are going to be plenty of naysayers wanting him to fail. That’s something that will unfortunately never go away for a high-profile athlete. But it’s his job to prove them wrong. And, oh boy, do I hope he proves them wrong.