UCLA Bruins Football 2012: The Quarterback Competition

April 27, 2012

The last time the UCLA Bruins took the field they were in the process of a season-ending defeat to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Kevin Prince was at the helm that day, as he was much of the year, but only because Richard Brehaut suffered a broken fibula that ended his season on October 8th.

Prior to that Prince and Brehaut had handed control of the offense back and forth to one another from one inconsistent start to the next.

New head coach Jim Mora is supervising the quarterback competition which is still up in the air as spring ball comes to a close next Saturday, May 5th. Mora was hoping to have the issue resolved, enabling the starter to lead summer throwing sessions with his teammates, however, that now appears unlikely.

Prince and Brehaut will be seniors in the fall, and redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has now been added to the mix for the starting job. While many UCLA alumni and fans have seen enough of Prince and Brehaut over the last three years to decide they would like to see Hundley given a shot, the new coaching staff appears to be giving all three a fair chance, as evidenced by each taking an equal number of reps during spring practice.

Prince has the most playing time of the three with 26 career starts during his time at UCLA. He started 10 of the Bruins' 14 games in 2011, passing for 1,828 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Prince also added 424 yards and a touchdown on the ground last season. His rushing total was the highest by a Bruin quarterback since Jeff Dankworth ran for 815 yards in 1976.

Prince has battled injuries throughout his career at UCLA, including a concussion suffered in the opening game of the 2011 season. Prior to that injury, Prince suffered a broken jaw in 2009, followed by a season-ending knee injury 5 games into the 2010 season. He has shown great determination despite all of the setbacks, and it leaves his supporters to wonder what he might accomplish if healthy for an entire season.

Brehaut had a difficult decision this spring -- whether to play baseball again for UCLA as he did in 2011, or to focus his time on spring football. He decided to stick with football and appears to be a real contender for the #1 QB spot when spring camp breaks.

Brehaut has started a total of 11 games for the Bruins during his time in Westwood. He appeared in 7 games during the 2011 season and amassed 948 yards passing and 6 touchdowns compared to only 1 interception. He was not as big a threat on the ground however, with only 169 yards rushing.  As such, opposing defenses were able to pin their ears back and rush the passer.

Brett Hundley embodies the classic case of a highly regarded high school player entering a program and instantly generating excitement among fans who want to see what he can do on the field. Hundley was the crown jewel of Rick Neuheisel’s final recruiting class, and was rated as high as the third best quarterback in the country according to some recruiting services coming out of Chandler High School in Arizona in 2011.

Hundley’s blend of size (6-4, 225 pounds), speed (4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash), and arm strength have the Bruins faithful clamoring for him to be the starting quarterback when fall camp gets underway.

Now in his second spring practice after enrolling early in Westwood in 2011, Hundley chose UCLA partly due to the university’s excellent pre-med program. This level of intelligence enabled him to quickly pick up the details of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s playbook.

Next Saturday’s Spring Game will give the coaching staff and the Bruins fans an opportunity to see how the three have progressed in a game situation since the end of last season. There figures to be much interest in Hundley’s progression in particular, as it will be his first action in front of a crowd.

In the end, Bruin fans will be happy if one of the three shines and appears capable of leading the team through the summer and into fall camp.

By Chris Harker
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

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