Starting quarterback Brett Hundley could ultimately become the best quarterback to ever play for the UCLA football program. This list includes the likes of Gary Beban, Billy Kilmer, Cade McNown and Troy Aikman, among others.
Hundley gives UCLA one of the top returning signal-callers in the entire country for 2014. However, the depth behind the talented quarterback is precarious. A serious injury to Hundley would virtually end any hopes of UCLA battling for supremacy in the Pac-12.
Redshirt sophomore Jerry Neuheisel and redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard complete the remainder of the depth chart at the position for the Bruins.
Woulard has yet to see a snap on the collegiate level, and Neuheisel participated in only two games last season as a quarterback. The majority of his time was spent as the holder on special teams.
1. Redshirt Junior Brett Hundley
Hundley is the unquestioned leader for the Bruins heading into the 2014 season. As a redshirt sophomore, the Chandler, Arizona, native set school records in 2013 for single-season completions (318), single-season passing yardage (3,740) and single-season total offense (4,095).
Now in his third year as the starter, he's looking to take the next step in truly becoming one of the premier signal-callers in all of the country.
Hundley does need to improve in various areas. Against better competition, he struggled. Below is a table detailing his statistical output against top teams, such as Stanford and Oregon, compared to the rest of the schedule. Not coincidentally, UCLA lost both of these contests.
Brett Hundley's Passing Statistics Against Oregon and Stanford
Hundley's Passing Statistics Versus the Rest of the Schedule in '13
|Comp./Att. (Pct.)||Yards (YPG)||TD||INT|
Hundley does have the propensity to tuck and run when his first or second options are covered up. His awareness in the pocket also needs to improve. On multiple occasions, his inability to throw the ball away on broken plays led to big losses. This was particularly evident in the contest against Arizona State. In the game, Hundley rushed 17 times for five yards.
UCLA's talented quarterback is a very articulate and mature young man. I'd expect immense improvements in what should be his last collegiate season. The playbook under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone should also expand even further when compared to last season.
2. Redshirt Sophomore Jerry Neuheisel
The competition as the lead reserve to Hundley is far from over. At this point—and I stress, at this moment in time—Neuheisel likely has a slight lead over Woulard. This battle will continue all season long.
Neuheisel has more experience in Mazzone's offense. Much like his father, the younger Neuheisel is a very heady player. His grasp of the playbook is rather advanced.
In the event of a minor injury to Hundley, the Loyola High School product would likely do a solid job. He's a manager of the game in every sense of the term. He won't wow anyone with his arm strength or physical ability. However, he's a good option to have in an emergency situation.
In the spring showcase game this past April, Neuheisel was unofficially 14-of-22 for 180 yards and two interceptions.
He was a grayshirt signee under his father in the 2011 recruiting class. Per Scout.com, the 2-star recruit chose UCLA over offers from Idaho and UNLV.
3. Redshirt Freshman Asiantii Woulard
When comparing the pure talent levels of both quarterbacks, Woulard has a clear edge in size, speed and arm strength. Woulard possesses every attribute needed to eventually become a very good collegiate quarterback.
At this point, Woulard needs to become more polished as a passer. He only started playing the position a few years ago (after initially starting out as a wide receiver in high school). In only two short years, Woulard went from a wide receiver to winning the Elite 11 MVP Award at the famed Elite 11 quarterback camp as a high school senior.
Camp counselor and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer was particularly effusive in his praise of the young signal-caller:
It was hard not to go with Max [Browne] or Christian [Hackenberg]. Those two were unbelievable. But I think there was a hair separation. I think it came down to this: Greatness is making the highly difficult look very easy. That's what Asiantii did. They did the same stuff; he made it look easier.
When compared to Neuheisel, Woulard might be more prone to making mistakes on the field. However, he'd also bring the potential for more excitement and production. In a theoretical situation that has Hundley going down for an extended period of time, I'd bet on Woulard getting the call as the starter.
Hundley is a virtual lock to leave after the season. In a perfect world, Woulard would get some experience this year in order to prepare for potentially starting in '15.
Woulard went 4-of-13 for 42 yards in the spring game this past April. Per Scout.com, the 4-star recruit chose UCLA over offers from Clemson, Kentucky and Mississippi.