— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) July 24, 2014
It’s getting harder and harder for Brett Hundley to walk around unnoticed. This offseason, the redshirt junior has made the rounds the media rounds, been slapped on a budding Heisman campaign, and featured in a sketch video touting him as UCLA’s “Campus Enforcer.”
About par for the course when you turn down NFL riches for one last shot at collegiate glory. Hundley knows the Bruins have been marked as a dark-horse national title candidate. He knows that, lest the team stumbles, the hype is only going to grow with each passing week.
So, what is he thinking?
“I think I feel more confident and relaxed this season,” Hundley said Thursday, shortly before a UCLA official shuttled him off to yet another interview spot.
The Bruins were arguably the biggest attraction at the latter half of Pac-12 Media Days, drawing a crowd even during an impromptu game of cornhole on the Paramount Studios lawn. It helps that Hundley doesn’t seem to care.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks says he and other teammates have jokingly called their star quarterback “big superstar” — ribbing that the 6-foot-3, 227-pound co-captain has shrugged off.
“He just plays it down,” Kendricks said. “I’m sure if he had it this way, it wouldn’t be like that. He’s just rolling with the punches.”
The coaches are also trying to make sure Hundley doesn’t become overloaded by the attention — whether it comes in the form of national reporters or social media. Just because he’s used to the cameras doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to see fewer of them.
“We’ve got to do a good job as a staff of making sure to protect Brett,” said head coach Jim Mora. “Brett’s an incredibly mature young man. He’s a gracious, genuine kid. I think he’ll navigate this very, very well. And you know what, he deserves it, and he’ll handle it well.
“He has his ego like we all do, but he has his ego firmly in check.”
Next week, Hundley will take a trip to Houston to see some family. He said it’s the first time in a while that he’s gotten “to go away for a second and just sort of be me.”
“It’s crazy, but it just comes with what you want,” he said. “As a kid, you dream of being in this position. Things are as they are. We’re just having fun. … You just need to find those certain times get away from everything; you guys will never know where I’m at, you guys will never be able to find me, you guys will never see me.”
Until the cameras turn on again.