Brett Hundley is the best quarterback UCLA has seen since Cade McNown in the late 90s. Since the announcement of his signing he has been labeled as the savior for a program that had been in shambles the prior few seasons.
Hundley has lived up to his projections and perhaps may even exceed them this year with an offense returning that has not seen much personnel change from last year. It was seen as very potent, in fact one of the best, being ranked as the 20th scoring offense in the country with 36.9 points per game. Hundley attributed a large part of that production with his arm, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns.
As goes with a quarterback’s production, one must be equipped with weapons in the form of wide receivers who can both be reliable sets of hands as well as game breaking play makers. Shaq Evans, who was UCLA football’s most productive receiver of a year ago and led the Bruins in receiving yards and touchdowns, has since graduated and left to catch balls on Sundays in the NFL. Three players are looked upon to carry the load and fill that void.
Junior Jordan Payton possesses a physicality which allows him to run many routes down the middle of the field and make plays with defenders in close proximity. Payton has been a solid performer his first two seasons with the program. He is very sure-handed with enough speed to get open, and as long as enough work is put in the offseason on running more precise routes, Payton could likely increase his production, especially in the red zone where his 220-pound frame is premium.
Devin Fuller might be the most dynamic player in the Bruin offense. Fuller has exceptional quickness and agility- he can change direction on a dime at breakneck speed. Fuller was recruited as an athlete, the number three athlete in the country by most rankings to be exact, as well as being ranked the number three quarterback in the nation. With that spot held down by Hundley, Coach Mora knew he had to get Fuller’s athleticism on the field in some some capacity. This realization came in the role of the slot receiver running underneath routes. With his speed and quickness, his route running can stand to improve, and if it does, he can become a favorite of Hundley’s. Look for a possible big year from number seven.
Devin Lucien has already proclaimed this year to be a huge one for himself. Lucien hasn’t yet seen the involvement with the offense which a player of his talent might garner. He stands to see a much increased role this year and may provide a deep threat on the outside for Hundley. The potential for breakout is there; if the production matches the skills, Bruin fans may be seeing Lucien light up the field with his breakaway speed.
The answer to who will breakout of the bunch will possibly be answered this spring as practice for underway this week. A fourth receiver, redshirt freshman Eldridge Massington, could also find himself in the mix if he performs well this offseason.
There are weapons in this offense and you can be sure Coach Mora and Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone will find a way to use them. It’s up to these players to work hard to live up to the potential they possess and give Brett Hundley an inside track to the Heisman trophy. Everything going according to plan will yield big numbers for the offense and bigger results for the team. That scoreboard might look like a giant calculator in frequent use on Saturdays this season, don’t blink.