This is a pretty long interview, with some great answers, so take a look after the jump…
Given the Brett Nottingham situation, does that change UCLA’s mindset regarding a quarterback recruit?
BH: “I think so. I think they absolutely – it’s a no-brainer – they’re taking one quarterback, but it also forces their hand to take two. Especially when you take into consideration Crissman’s shoulder and Prince getting dinged up as he did. They need some stability. You can’t have a roster of three quarterbacks the same year and expect to be competitive. The reality is, once 2012 comes, you could have three senior QBs.”
How about the way it went down? Do you expect UCLA to be a little more tentative about an early recruit?
BH: “Regardless of how it went down, since it went down – it is what it is – they have to take two quarterbacks; but because they need to take two, they can try to get one early and then try to get a senior who has a great year. Go after an elite guy early on, get his commitment, then if somebody blows up like a Trevor Gretzky, then I think they go from there. Say they get a Max Wittek this spring, then you’ve got your quarterback and a guy who blows up. But they cannot afford to go two years in a row without a QB. That’d be fatal.”
Does Norm Chow’s name still hold the same cache?
BH: “It certainly does. But now, it has really nothing to do with the offensive coordinator so much as, ‘How soon am I gonna get on the field?’ Earlier this decade, guys waited their turn to be a starting quarterback. Look what USC did: You have John David Booty, one of the best high school quarterback recruits in years, waiting three years. Mark Sanchez, three years. It wasn’t that long ago that guys, even though they were physically ready to play, were ready to wait. Then you get a guy like Terrelle Pryor who maybe isn’t physically ready, but wants to play immediately. You’re seeing these square pegs in round holes.”
Who at the Dreammaker Academy would fit UCLA the best?
BH: “I would say Brett Hundley, no question. You look at him, and he’s a good athlete, but he’s a guy with a cannon for an arm, great accuracy. He doesn’t want to be labeled as a dual threat QB, but as a quarterback. He’s a guy I think would be a great fit for that offense. He can play under center, but he’s athletic enough to move.”
Who were the standouts?
BH: “Hundley by far was clearly the best quarterback that day. He’s already made a good case to be the No. 1 in the west. Gretzky looked really good. I was saying for a year he’d be a better long term prospect than Montana. You can see the athleticism is there; very fundamentally sound, very technical, but not robotic or mechanic. The pieces are there, all he needs is the chance to take some snaps. After that, Michael Eubank from Corona Centennial. Probably the best kid physically there, but he’s not quite there mechanically. Imagine a guy like Ben Olson’s size, right-handed, but barely scratching the surface of where he can be physically.”
Who were the diamonds in the rough? The guys who on March 2 might not be a huge name, but could blow up?
BH: “Gretzky is one of them, Michael Bercovici from Taft they should keep an eye on. He was at Westlake, splitting duties, so he transferred to Taft, and he’s another guy who needs more game snaps. Derrick Brown from Vista Murrieta, a dual threat guy, and a really good punter, too. Big kid, looks like he can be an outside linebacker. He’s a guy that as the spring goes on, his profile grows. Jake Geringer from Newbury Park, heading into his third year as a starter. Evan Hunko at Mayfair in Lakewood, good size, height-wise. Pretty good arm. Those are the primary names right now for guys to keep an eye on.”
Last question: Does UCLA need to make a big splash at QB?
“Well, people forget Crissman was top-10 and Brehaut was top-10, and in Brehaut’s case, that was as good a QB year as you’d have. Brehaut was the last big-name quarterback, but Ben Olson is the last really, really big name. I think that UCLA will see that a lot of the underdog guys have ended up being the guy. It’s going to be hard to make a home-run type splash this year, because frankly, there’s not many home-run talents available. This is one of those years where you kind of take what can you get.”