College football’s national letter of intent day is only a day away. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, billed as one of the best recruiters in the nation, only has nine recruits committed to sign with the Bruins. This year’s class is ranked at No. 69 by Scout.com. In each of Neuheisel’s first two years, he hauled in top-10 recruiting classes that each had over 20 commits.
The golden boy of this year’s class is quarterback Brett Hundley, the Bruins’ lone five-star recruit from Chandler, Ariz. Hundley enrolled at UCLA winter quarter along with fellow early commits Sam Tai and Aaron Wallace, though he had to miss the first week of classes because of his participation in the high school Under Armour All America-Game.
He will compete with rising redshirt junior Kevin Prince and rising junior Richard Brehaut for the starting quarterback job when spring practice begins in April. Hundley sat down with the Daily Bruin’s Sam Strong to talk about his first few weeks as a Bruin.
Daily Bruin: Was it overwhelming to come in second week of winter quarter as a 17-year-old?
Brett Hundley: It wasn’t bad because it was the first week of school. Just catching up to the learning curve of all the other students was tough, but I’m caught up now so I’m good to go.
DB: I’m assuming you’re undeclared?
BH: I’m still thinking about doing pre-med because that was my major coming in but now that I’m here, I’m looking at sports medicine or something like that. I want to stay in medicine but maybe do something different.
DB: When did you make the decision that you were going to come to UCLA?
BH: To be honest, it came down to the last week. It wasn’t one of those things where I knew I was going to come here all along. My top three were: a tie between Texas A&M and Oregon, Washington and UCLA. It was a real hard choice between Washington and UCLA, but I’m glad that I came here, and I’m happy to be here, but it came down to the wire.
DB: What went into the decision to enroll early?
BH: I always knew I wanted to come to school early as a quarterback because if you don’t come early, you only have a month until the first game. It’s pretty quick so you’re going to have to study your ass off.
So I always knew I wanted to come to college early to get that jump start, and now I can go through spring ball so I’ll get it down before stuff actually begins.
It’s hard to compete for a position when you’ve only got one month until the first game, so I knew I wanted to come early, and I’m glad I did. To be honest, your second semester of your senior year, there’s nothing to do so I’m glad I came to college early and got a jump start on things.
DB: How has the adjustment process for you been here?
BH: It’s been pretty crazy. It’s a big difference from high school. I never really thought a teacher could sit up in a lecture and talk for two hours without explaining what she’s talking about. That shocked me when I first saw it, and to have two or three hundred people in your class is pretty crazy.
The major adjustments are not having everyday homework assignments, but having bigger homework assignments. This week, I sort of slowed it down and everything’s starting to adjust right, so I think by next week I’ll be in the flow of things.
DB: Has the team been welcoming to you? Who have you spent most of your time with?
BH: I’ve got a great welcome from the team. They’re really supportive and happy I’m here. I’m happy I’m here, too, to help them out. Sam (Tai) and Aaron (Wallace) came down early with me so we spend a lot of time together. (Owamagbe Odighizuwa), he’s a big help. He’s the nicest, most respectful, most humble guy I have ever met. He’s really down to earth, and he’s a real nice guy. I think that was another big, positive connection I made with someone on the team.
DB: How are offseason workouts going for you so far?
BH: Workouts are getting better. The first week, I damn near died. It was tough. I had to get an ice pack because I couldn’t feel my shoulders or my legs. It’s gotten better and better so now I’m in the flow of things. I got used to workouts, and I got the technique, and I can put the weight on.
DB: How much have you started to learn offensive schemes and game scenarios? Have you been meeting with coach Neuheisel or is it just workouts right now?
BH: I told him that when I got here, I want to get to work on the offense. So, four times a week for about an hour or two, I’ll sit down and go over defensive fronts and the type of stuff you see in the college game.
We’re just going over the basic stuff right now, just getting a feel for the plays. Not the advanced stuff yet. Coach Neuheisel will come in sometimes, but he spends a lot of time recruiting right now.
DB: Now that Mike Johnson is finally here, how did that shake out for you?
BH: I love that change. Norm Chow is a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him, but I knew change was going to come and I had been talking to coach Neuheisel about it. All of it is for the better. Mike Johnson has done some great things with the 49ers and I got to talk to him for the first time Saturday, and he’s a real great guy, so I can’t wait to work with him.
DB: How involved was Norm in your recruiting process?
BH: I talked to him. He wasn’t a big influence. He was there, and it was nice to know that he was going to be at UCLA for the moment, but I didn’t come here because of him. I came here for a lot of other reasons. I didn’t base everything on Norm Chow. I wasn’t mad when they made that coaching change. It was shocking, but change happens.
DB: What do you view as your place in this three-way quarterback race as we go into spring practice and eventually, fall camp?
BH: I don’t know. I really don’t even think about it, to be honest. Right now, I’m here to put in the work and work hard and get better and at the end of spring ball, there will be a named starter. Hopefully that’s me.
DB: What are your thoughts on the pistol offensive set?
BH: The pistol’s gone.
BH: It’s not going to be completely out, but we’re changing it, and I’m happy. It’s not like I hated the pistol, but I’m glad to change it up a little and go under center more. The pistol will still be there but just to know that we’re going to have some other formations is pretty sweet.
DB: You’ve been heralded as a mobile quarterback. Are quarterback runs going to decrease or do you know yet?
BH: I think we’ll implement that more into our game plan. The pistol is nice to have a mobile quarterback in and that’s another asset of my game that I can bring and share and that’s how I can help out.
I think we’ll be putting more quarterback runs in because it creates an extra blocker when you have a quarterback who can run. You can dictate what the defense has to do.
DB: Coach Neuheisel has been in the public eye a little bit for getting on the quarterback during games. Is his intense nature something that you like?
BH: That’s one thing that doesn’t concern me. You can’t take it the wrong way. You have to have thick skin as a quarterback, and you can’t get down on yourself for some screaming.
I’ve been through that my whole life, but as long as it’s constructive criticism, what’s there to get mad over? As long as he’s there to help and boost you up, that’s perfectly fine.
E-mail Strong at firstname.lastname@example.org.