Brett Hundley should get nod at QB

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
9:53
PM PT
Brett HundleyPeter Yoon/ESPNLA.comIf UCLA wants to establish a new identity, it might make sense to pick Brett Hundley as the starting quarterback.

LOS ANGELES -- It's time to name Brett Hundley the starting quarterback for UCLA.

Hundley is locked in a battle with incumbents Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut for the starting job and the competition is heating up as spring practice enters the home stretch. None of the three are blowing away the competition and taking the job, but Hundley appears to have edged a step ahead over the last week, so that makes it a no-brainer to give him the job.

The coaches in charge of picking a signal caller are not letting on about which way they are leaning and the less-than-stellar quarterback play is making the decision even tougher, but the guess here is that were the season to start this week, Hundley would get the job.

Hundley, a freshman who redshirted last season, has shown the most improvement from the start of camp and he has elevated his play significantly over the past few practices.

The book on Hundley is that he is a dual-threat, athletic quarterback, but until recently he has shown only glimpses of his running ability. On Thursday he had a pair of eye-catching runs that showed off the speed and open-field ability that made him a high-level recruit out of high school and had him tabbed as "The Savior" for UCLA football.

But after struggling with his throws for much of the last year, he never got off the bench and sat out the season as a redshirt. Now, under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Noel Mazzone, he's beginning to show some promise with nice touch as well as arm strength and accuracy.

All is not perfect, however. He had passes intercepted on consecutive plays during a red zone drill, though safety Anthony Thompson made a tremendous play to get one and Tevin McDonald also had to make a nice play to get the other. Still, the flashes of extraordinary ability he's starting to show make you hungry to see if he can, indeed, reach the tremendous potential expected since his arrival. That alone makes him the most intriguing pick.

Prince, on the other hand, seems to be struggling with his throws and is tending to lock in on receivers. He has been unable to move the offense during the two- and four-minute drills, and interceptions, a problem for Prince early last season, continue to plague him. He seems to be losing confidence.

Brehaut has been steady but not spectacular. He looks really good one series and not so good the next. It's the same type of inconsistency that has hampered him during his career at UCLA and could be the deciding factor in him not winning the job.

Because Prince and Brehaut are not blowing away the competition, then you have to go with Hundley. Even if all three were dead even, you'd have to go with Hundley because of his potential. This is a new coaching staff that needs to give UCLA football a new identity and a new quarterback is an excellent place to start.

Let's face it, after three seasons, we pretty much know what we're getting from Prince and Brehaut. Certainly, Prince is a well-respected leader and has shown to understand offense the best over the years so you will lose a great field general if you don't pick him. But who's to say Hundley won't turn into one as well?

And Brehaut is a scrapper with a never-say-die attitude who isn't afraid of any situation, so you lose some in terms of confidence and swagger if you don't pick him. But there's no indication that Hundley can't develop a similar mindset.

And that intrigue factor is why Hundley makes the most sense at this point. You have to see if he can turn those flashes of talent into a consistent level of high play. You have to see if he really is the answer to the long-standing quarterback questions at UCLA. You have to see if he really is The Savior.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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