- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The only thing UCLA coach Jim Mora knows about who his starting quarterback will be next season is that he will have one.
And only one.
There will be no quarterback controversy for the Bruins next fall, Mora said, because he will name a starter before the first game and plans to stick with that player. The key for spring is to identify who that player will be.
"I think we have to be patient," Mora said. "We have to really be analytical. We have to make sure we make the right decision because I think you do the team and the players a real disservice if you’re flip-flopping all the time. Once you make a decision, I think you’ve got to go with it. You’ve got to ride that decision."
The UCLA quarterback spot has been an Achilles heel for the Bruins over the past decade as injuries and unsettled play have hampered the ability find a clear-cut No. 1 starter. The result has been an offense that has struggled to find consistency.
Last season was no different as Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut split the starting job to mixed results. Both return for the Bruins and will enter spring practice as the frontrunners for the role, but by no means are they shoo-ins to win the job.
Brett Hundley, who spent last season redshirting after coming to UCLA with great fanfare, should pose a significant challenge. So, too, will incoming freshman T.J. Millweard, the No. 5 high school quarterback in the nation last year who is enrolling at UCLA for the spring quarter so that he can compete for the job when spring practice opens April 3.
Mora said Prince will get the first reps with the first string, but only because "you have to start with somebody" and added that the job is anybody's to win in what figures to be a very heated competition throughout the spring.
"You hope that it becomes very apparent," Mora said. "There will be constant communication about every position daily. We go in there every day and evaluate every practice and evaluate every player in every practice. That’s what we do. We’re film junkies. We go up and watch the film and evaluate everything. And at some point, you’re hopeful that at that position especially it just jumps out at you: That’s our guy."
Prince started 10 games last season and passed for 1,828 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He entered the season as the starter after winning the job from Brehaut and Hundley in fall camp, but the spot never felt settled as coach Rick Neuheisel seemed uncommitted on his starter from week to week.
Prince eventually lost the starting role after a three-interception first quarter against Texas. Brehaut started the next three games, but broke his leg against Washington State and Prince resumed the starting role. Brehaut started four games total and finished the season with 948 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.
Brehaut is currently playing on UCLA's baseball team, as he did last spring, but he will participate in all of spring practices with the football team, Mora said, similar to what he did last spring.
Hundley was slow to learn the offensive scheme and had a setback when he tore his meniscus just before fall camp started. By the time he was ready for game action, it had gotten late in the season and made more sense to have him sit out as a redshirt.
"It would be ideal if at the end of spring practice and going into fall, we knew who our starter was," Mora said. "That would be the ideal situation. I don’t know if that will happen. Hopefully it will."
When fall camp begins in August, Devin Fuller will join the mix. Another highly-ranked incoming freshman (No. 7 athlete) Fuller will have a lot of ground to make up in the competition and figures to be headed for a redshirt year with a logjam of quarterbacks ahead of him, but Mora said Fuller will get his chances.
"He’s in the quarterback mix," Mora said. "Maybe a guy like that comes in the fall and just explodes onto the scene. I don’t know if that’ll happen or not. He’ll be a little behind because of the fact that he won’t be here in the spring, but he’ll be here through the summer. We can’t work with him in the summer, but he’ll be here learning."