UCLA Football: 10 Reasons Brett Hundley Can Bring Bruins Back to The Top
Spring practice is still more than a month away, but for the UCLA Bruins, it can't start soon enough.
Not even sunny skies and mild temperatures can wipe away the many failures and short-comings endured by Rick Neuheisel and company during their 4-8 campaign in 2010.
Once the team takes to Spaulding Field, hope will spring eternal once again, especially once the revamped coaching staff gets a closer look at incoming quarterback recruit Brett Hundley.
Without much quality competition (unless you consider Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut to be good players), the five-star talent out of Chandler, Arizona is expected to get plenty of reps with the first team offense, perhaps putting himself in position to bring the Bruins back from the depths of the Pac-12 standings.
The question remains, can this kid, precocious as he may be, pull it off?
For the optimists out there, here are 10 reasons to be hopeful that Hundley is, indeed, the savior that UCLA football has been waiting for.
Let's begin with the physical tools that Brett Hundley brings to the table.
Hundley's overall size and strength certainly pertains to his ability to throw the ball, as he is already well-regarded for having the arm strength and the touch to connect on the deep ball.
There is some concern about Hundley's throwing motion, which includes a bit of a wind-up that slows down his release. However, there is little doubt that, with time and a bit of coaching, Hundley will be able to adjust to a quicker, more compact motion.
The coaching staff at UCLA is also excited about Brett Hundley's footwork, which is already far above average.
At a strong 6'4" and 217 pounds, Hundley is something of a mobile quarterback, showing both escapability and the ability to throw accurately on the run.
And, if Hundley ends up face to face with a linebacker while on the run, he has the speed and shiftiness to outrun him as well as the size and strength to flat-out run through him.
Intangibles are always tough to grade, especially when talking about a guy who has yet to take a real college snap, but all signs point to Brett Hundley being a natural leader.
Hundley might very well have merited acceptance into UCLA even without the aid of a football scholarship, as best exemplified by his 3.9 GPA in high school, which played a big part in his ability to graduate early from Chandler High School.
Grades aside, Hundley has proven himself to be a savvy guy and a quick-learner, having gone from a virtual unknown as his school's back-up quarterback to one of the top prospects in the country in a matter of months from his junior to his senior year.
He's Already Enrolled in School
Those qualities will come in handy now that Brett is fully enrolled at UCLA.
One might pity the fact that Hundley won't be able to attend his high school prom, but it's tough when it's abundantly clear that the kid is chasing his dream of being a starting quarterback at a Division I school as a freshman in college.
Hundley should be fully adjusted to the rhythms of life at UCLA by the time spring camp rolls around, which bodes well for his preparedness going forward into the 2011 season.
He's Not Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut
Assuming Brett Hundley is prepped and ready to go for spring ball, he'll have one huge advantage over his chief competitors Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut.
He's not Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut.
As simplistic and obnoxious as that may sound, it makes perfect sense to anyone who has watched UCLA football over the last two years. On the one hand, Prince has shown plenty of grit and determination, along with flashes of actual quarterbacking talent, but has proven to be too fragile to handle the duties under center for an entire season.
And Brehaut? Well, let's just say he's better off as the back-up catcher for UCLA's top-ranked baseball team.
He'll Get Plenty of Playing Time
As such, Brett Hundley will likely get plenty of snaps with the first-team offense in spring and fall camps, which, if all goes well, means that he'll be on the field more often than not (hopefully) scoring points for the Bruins.
One can only hope that such playing time for Hundley will yield greater on-field success for a program that has struggled to find such success consistently since Rick Neuheisel returned to Westwood in 2008.
He's Neuheisel's First Blue Chip Quarterback Recruit
As fleeting as consistency has been since Rick Neuheisel took over at his alma mater, what has truly eluded UCLA football in that time is the arrival of a truly high-level prep quarterback.
That is, of course, until now.
Brett Hundley qualifies as a legitimate blue chip recruit, having been designated as a five-star prospect and the third-best at his position nationally by Scouts, Inc., not to mention his spot on the 2011 Under Armour All-American team.
As if that weren't praise enough, some scouts have gone so far as to compare Hundley to a young Donovan McNabb, which certainly bodes well for him and the Bruins, assuming the comparisons turn out to be accurate.
His Presence Will Help the Staff's Recruiting Efforts
As important as Brett Hundley's level of play will be to the Bruins' future success, his mere presence on the squad will be a huge boost for years to come.
Why, you ask?
Simply put: high-level recruits attract high-level recruits. Having a blue-chip guy like Hundley will not only serve to promote the confidence the coaching staff has in its ability to convince players to come to UCLA; it will also show those same recruits that UCLA is a good place for the best of the best to play their college ball.
Whether Hundley turns out to be a good shepherd remains to be seen. However, if he is even moderately success as a recruiting magnet, then UCLA football may yet have a bright future.
The Revamped Staff Will Put Him in Position to Succeed
Of course, blue chip recruits are no good unless the coaching staff can coach them up and utilize their talents properly.
Brett Hundley is no exception, though the new crop of coaches at UCLA should do a better job than their predecessors (i.e. Norm Chow and Chuck Bullough).
New offensive coordinator Mike Johnson should meld much better with Rick Neuheisel than did Chow, as Johnson and Neuheisel worked together on Brian Billick's staff with the Baltimore Ravens.
The hope, then, is that the new coaches will do coach up Hundley better than the old group did with the likes of Prince and Brehaut.
Rick Neuheisel Needs Him to Be the Man
Above all, Brett Hundley can make the Bruins relevant again because, well, Rick Neuheisel needs him to.
To say that 2011 is a make-or-break year for Neuheisel at UCLA is an understatement.
The former Rose Bowl MVP swept into Westwood on a chariot of pompous glory in 2008. Flanked by the "brain trust" of Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker, Slick Rick emboldened Bruins fans with proclamations of Pac-10 championship contention in Year Four.
Well, 2011 will be Year Four of the Neuheisel Regime, and the Bruins are still far from conference favorites, especially now that there are 12 members in the Pac.
Essentially, Neuheisel's job is riding on the arm and legs of an 18-year-old kid straight out of high school.
See where this is/could be headed?