Fighting to be UCLA’s starting quarterback, Jerry Neuheisel shuts out noise

Jerry Neuheisel is the only quarterback on UCLA’s roster with any significant game experience. That hasn’t been enough to make him a favorite in the offseason race to become the Bruins’ next starter.

After backing up Brett Hundley last season, Neuheisel returns in the midst of the program’s first quarterback competition in three years. But even as a soon-to-be redshirt junior, the 22-year-old isn’t exactly a clear favorite. Most of the hype has been generated by five-star recruit Josh Rosen, who committed to the Bruins more than a year ago and enrolled in January to immerse himself in the playbook.

Also in the running is redshirt sophomore Asiantii Woulard, a former Elite 11 MVP — which leaves Neuheisel as an acceptable but unglamorous option. If that perception bothers him, he’s not letting the public know.

“I’ve got enough stresses going on besides worrying what the media thinks,” Neuheisel said. “Growing up with my dad, we could kind of tell that the media is never gonna be a fan of you until you do something heroic.

“I don’t put much effort or much thought into what anybody thinks about me. I just want to come out every day and do my job, and do it to the best of my ability.”

But as far as “heroic” goes, few can top what Neuheisel did for UCLA on Sept. 13, 2014 against Texas. It was the third game in what would turn out to be a second straight 10-win season for the Bruins, and Hundley had left with a hyperextended elbow. In came Neuheisel, who completed 22 of his 29 passes, but only 145 yards and a score.

He made his 30th attempt count. With UCLA trailing at AT&T Stadium, Neuheisel let fly a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payton, pushing the Bruins to a 20-17 win.

“I mean, I made about one good throw,” Neuheisel said. “That’s about all I can say about that game.”