For weeks, even months UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley looked the part and played the part of a starter.
Now it’s official.
UCLA coach Jim Mora announced on Friday through a school release that Hundley will be the starting quarterback, news that isanti-climatic and surprise to no one since the redshirt freshman proved impressivethroughout spring camp. Hundley clearly leapfrogged a supposed four-man competition during the first week of fall camp. Mora throughout the process was hesitant in naming a starter just yet, stressing that he needed more time to evaluate a group that included Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel.
Mora broke aself-imposed Aug. 16 deadline to name a starter, making the announcement on UCLA’s off day.
“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 Mora in the statement. “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.”
Hundley took to Twitter to express his feeling, tweeting “God is good.”
CBSSports.com reported that Hundley was informed of the decision on Friay in a meeting attended by offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, Mora, Prince and Brehaut. Hundley told the website that “I cried my eyes out” and that “it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
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Just two days ago, Hundley was asked if he was feeling like a leader, but was uneasy about answering the question.
“Yes and no,” Hundley said. “You can’t ever say you’re sort of the leader. It just comes naturally.”
With a week left of fall camp and less than three weeks before the season opener against Rice in Houston, Hundley will assume his new role as leader, and now the real work begins.
The former five-star recruit brings incredible arm strength, accuracy, mobility, speed, poise and leadership, all attributes Mora pointed to during the first week of fall camp when Mora continually was asked to describe what he’s looking for in a starting quarterback.
Through the first week he’s proven to makegood decisions in the pocket, and has beentested with an offensive line that continues to struggle with consistent rotation from first and second units stemming from a slew of injuries . That he can extend plays with his legs and thinks quick on his feet makes Hundley a hot commodity and the obvious choice to help offset the line’s inexperience and lack of depth.
UCLA has not enjoyed any consistency from its heralded quarterbacks since Cade McNown made a run at the Heisman Trophy in 1998. Hundley was the nation’s No. 3 quarterback out of Chandler (Ariz.) High and a SuperPrep All-American. His skills and intangibles seemed tailor-made for Rick Neuheisel’s pistol offense last year, but the onedubbed “the annointed one” instead spent last year behind a Prince-Brehaut tandem plagued by inconsistency and injuries. Mora’s spread offense now caters to Hundley’s strengths.
UCLA resumes camp today with a two-a-day practice beginning at 8:30 a.m. and a second session at 5:30 p.m.
With week left of camp at Cal State San Bernardino, Mora now will focus on finding a backup to Hundley, a predicament that Prince nor Brehaut had in mind coming into this season.