What is it about Brett Hundley that excites UCLA fans like nothing since Russell Westbrook’s dunk against Cal? Maybe it’s the athleticism, maybe it’s the success, maybe it’s his personality. Well, it’s all that and more. Hundley’s ability to carry his teammates on and off the field, his dual threat abilities, and his winning record have all contributed to the love that surrounds him in Westwood, but his return extends further than the number 17 he wears on his jersey.
His return means a reliable leader on offense, but it also improves the running game. Hundley has played the option to near perfection in the last two seasons – assuming the offensive line allowed the play to develop. Faking defenders out wasn’t the end of it either, as he moved on to confusing fans and camera men at games. With a rejuvenated squad of running-backs and a commitment from four star RB Nate Starks, not to mention the addition of new backs coach Kennedy Polamalu, the run game is sure to accumulate and yield much needed yardage next season. One may even consider how Hundley’s attention from defenses will allow young members of his team to develop, and while that ripe group includes Nate Starks, it also means an improved receiving corps.
With no shame, UCLA is recruiting to upgrade their wideouts. As much as Devin Lucien, Devin Fuller, and the rest of the receivers and slot men for the Bruins managed to hold their own this season, not one player could take over a game, and they all struggled to get open and give Hundley space to throw the ball. Shaq Evans was the Bruins most reliable wideout, and he was a senior – this leaves a gap to be filled. Although already securing verbals from Austin Roberts and Alex Van Dyke, Mora and Co. have other top notch receivers considering Westwood as their destination for college football. You can keep track of incoming recruits here.
UCLA’s defense will also benefit from Hundley’s return – even if that sounds odd. As the Bruins faltered and fell in Oregon this season, we saw a prime example of the consequences that present themselves when an offense fails to sustain drives in the latter parts of a game: the defense gets tired. Should Hundley make his necessary improvements for next year, the defense can rest and UCLA will have a shot at knocking off the Ducks when they visit the Rose Bowl on October 11th.
Nonetheless, the final part in UCLA’s road to greatness next season really does go through Hundley. If Hundley can improve his deep pass, ability to sense pressure, and throw from a pocket made by an improved offensive line, this UCLA group will be not only a threat in the Pac-12, but a force to be reckoned with in the National Picture and in contention for a spot in the new College Football Playoffs.