Quarterback Asiantii Woulard impresses on first day

Asiantii Woulard wasn’t originally part of UCLA’s plans. The Elite 11 camp MVP originally committed to South Florida, but changed his mind in December. Two months after that, he donned a blue baseball cap and track jacket on ESPNU.

“We, quite frankly, got lucky that he was out there and available when he was,” Bruins coach Jim Mora said on Feb. 6, shortly after announcing the UCLA recruiting class. “The stars kind of aligned for us.”

When the Bruins opened preseason camp on Wednesday, Woulard only made them look more fortunate. He looked every bit of his listed 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, with a frame that can easily carry more muscle. Still a raw quarterback with two high school seasons at the position, he twirled the ball surprisingly well.

The key for him, as with many freshmen, is to rely less heavily on his natural athleticism.

“It’s a lot more structured and you have to be more mentally sharp, go through progressions,” he said. “Everybody’s fast, so you actually have to react to defenses rather than just look for the open receiver.”

Mora pointed out Woulard’s size and smarts, but tried to stay reserved: “Once I’ve seen him throw more than 10 or 15 passes, I think I’ll have a better feel.”

Even if the Florida native is a clear-cut No. 2 behind star Brett Hundley, UCLA coaches may not want to burn his redshirt year. Growing up more focused on basketball, Woulard only turned to football in high school. Another year of seasoning could polish him into a capable starter.