On the field, Brett Hundley's one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Off the field, he's an economics major who is a part of the de facto collegiate student-athlete union, the National College Players Association. Most draft prospects, let alone quarterback prospects, won't declare after their redshirt sophomore seasons, but after Hundley called the NCAA a “cartel”, it's not over the top to entertain the idea.
He's already proven he's talented enough.
While still in high school, Hundley parlayed his five-star recruit status to the Under Armour all-star game and a chance to compete in their skills challenge, which he won. In 2012, as a redshirt freshman, he took his first snap for a 72-yard touchdown run. In his second, third, and fourth games, he threw for over 300 yards, becoming the first UCLA quarterback to do so consecutively. He also broke single-season school records for completions, passing yards, and total offense, all while netting himself the number two spot on the school's all-time passing touchdowns list, after only one season.
Hundley wasn't the only redshirt freshman quarterback to flash last season, though. Marcus Mariota lead a highly ranked Oregon team; Kevin Hogan seemed to have turned around highly ranked Stanford's offense; and Johnny Manziel won a Heisman. In the national spotlight, Hundley's nothing more than a player with “potential”, who'll be part of the “future stars” of the sport. Even the Pac-12 didn't vote him on their all-conference teams, although he's received many honors for academic excellence during his first two seasons in Westwood.
The Pac-12's coaches voted on Marcus Mariota, a 2012 redshirt freshman, and Matt Scott, a one year starter who broke out for Arizona, as their all-conference quarterbacks. Hundley was listed on the honorable mentions list alongside Taylor Kelly, Kevin Hogan, and Matt Barkely. Don't assume he'll slip all the way down to the honorable mentions list in 2013. Don't even assume his breakout campaign won't start this weekend.
Hundley fits the mold of the new NFL prototype: talented with his arms, fast, and intelligent. Nebraska, who UCLA faces at noon on Saturday in a nationally televised game, has already struggled with another dual-threat quarterback. The Corn Huskers' defense, which ranked ninth in the nation in pass efficiency in 2012, allowed Brett Smith, Wyoming's quarterback, to complete 29-of-43 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns against Nebraska in the opening weekend of play.
On top of the arm production, Smith's ability to run the ball eight times for 92 yards makes the Nebraska defense vs Brett Hundley match-up even more interesting. In UCLA's opening match, Hundley was able to rush for 63 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries against the Nevada Woldpack defense.
If football was played on paper, one would be lead to assume Hundley's breakout into the national conversation could very well start with this Saturday's performance, but Vegas disagrees, listing UCLA as a 4.5 point underdog.
Being overshadowed by the Alabama-Texas A&M match-up, this game between top 25 squads may be the more entertaining and will feature the better redshirt sophomore quarterback.