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Brett Hundley becomes UCLA's leading man, in every way

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Quarterback Brett Hundley, UCLA's Heisman Trophy candidate, has come along way in two years
Hundley, an uncertain redshirt freshman in 2012, heads into his last college season a confident, assured leade

This felt different to quarterback Brett Hundley.

The weather, for one thing, was milder. UCLA's third visit to San Bernardino for training camp did not open with a blister-in-the-sun afternoon.

Yet more had changed since the first time Hundley stepped onto the Cal State San Bernardino practice field in 2012. The wet-behind-the-ears redshirt freshman has become a memory.

"I recognize that guy," Hundley said of the person he was two years ago. "But he is totally different. The confidence after two years, the understanding and recognition of things, is huge. He is a more easygoing, settled-in guy. He understands what his role is."

He understands he is in charge.

That was never more clear than during an offensive drill Monday. Hundley was not happy with how everyone . . . and that meant everyone . . . performed. He barked at the next group to "get off the field" and commanded that the first group go again.

"Let's do it right," Hundley woofed.

Hundley said that two years on the job "gives you understanding as a quarterback that you are able to do certain things like that. You come to terms with it — gaining respect, stepping on toes — and eventually you get over that."

Wherever UCLA is headed this season — and the Bruins are thinking up is the direction — it will be Hundley who gets them there.

In 2012, he came to San Bernardino to win the job, and cried like an infant the night he was awarded it. Now, heading into what he has said will be his last season at UCLA, he is a grownup and he leads.

"Whatever Brett says is the law," linebacker Myles Jack said.

Jim Mora was a first-year coach inheriting a talented but raw quarterback two years ago. The difference is obvious to him now.

"His maturity and his command of the team and the offense jumps out at me," Mora said. "How comfortable he looks now. How quickly things come to him. Brett, two years ago, was trying to figure it out as he went. Now he knows."

Hundley has become the type of quarterback that allows a coach to sleep at night.

"Are you kidding?" Mora said. "I only worry about keeping him healthy and about how I'm doing my job so he feels freed up to go play. Anytime the guy touching the ball on every play has such command of what you want out of your offense, you can worry about other things."

Monday was an exercise in maturity for Hundley. He did not have his best day throwing the ball. But he was sharp when making decisions.

During one seven-on-seven sequence, Hundley fought the impulse to force throws, something he would have done two years ago. Instead, with receivers covered downfield, he took the safe and sane play, dumping the ball off to a wide-open Nate Iese in the flat on three consecutive plays.

"I feel more relaxed, more comfortable," Hundley said. "I'm not as nervous as I was two years ago."

Or as hot.

Departures and delays

Defensive end Kylie Fitts has left the team and will transfer, Mora said.

The Bruins were also without linebacker Dwight Williams, quarterback Aaron Sharp and receiver Jordan Lasley, all freshmen. The three remained in Westwood after violating a team rule.

"Those three guys did not live up to the standards that we're looking for through the summer months," Mora said. "They are not suspended from the team. They will be rejoining us after the first game. I expect them to come back more mature, more focused."

Quick hits

Receiver Mossi Johnson left practice after landing hard on his left shoulder. Mora said Johnson would undergo X-rays. . . . Tackle Simon Goines, who is coming off knee surgery, sat out practice. Mora said Goines has been cleared and will be worked in slowly. . . . Taylor Lagace has moved from linebacker to fullback. Jalen Ortiz has moved from receiver to cornerback. Charles Dawson has moved from cornerback to receiver.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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