UCLA quarterback competition has no clear favorite
UCLA Coach Jim Mora said he’d like to have the quarterback competition narrowed down by the third week of spring practice.
That’s a week away, but through Thursday’s practice, the Bruins’ fifth this spring, Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, Brett Hundley and Jerry Neuheisel have been splitting snaps fairly evenly with the first team during team periods, making it hard to determine whom Mora favors.
Still, Prince and Brehaut, who each started games last season, and the highly touted redshirt freshman Hundley would seem to be the favorites for the starting position.
For now, each of the quarterbacks is adjusting to the change in offense and overall attitude under Mora.
“It’s a lot different, but with how things have gone in the past, something needed to change, so why not change everything?” Brehaut asked. “Why not change how we do every single thing, from off the field to the locker room to here? It’s a good different. I like it. Guys are starting to really accept it and believe it and that’s what it’s going to take.”
In January 2011, Steven Manfro was on the last day of his official visit to UCLA — which also happened to be his 18th birthday — when then-coach Rick Neuheisel offered a scholarship.
At that point, the only college to have offered the Valencia High School running back a scholarship was Wyoming, despite the fact that Manfro had gained more than 10,000 all-purpose yards and scored 123 touchdowns in his prep career.
Manfro accepted the offer and redshirted last season, when he became UCLA’s most outstanding offensive scout team player. So far this spring, he has been impressive.
“Every day he makes a really big play,” Mora said.
There are several running backs vying for carries, with two-year leading rusher Johnathan Franklin, who decided to return for his senior season, seemingly at the top of the list.
But Manfro, who’s 5 feet 11, 195 pounds and “powerfully built,” according to Mora, has caught Mora’s eye.
“He’s got quickness, he’s got speed, he’s got elusiveness, he can make the first man miss,” Mora said. “We’ll find ways to get him the ball, whether it’s handing the ball off to him or throwing it to him on a swing pass or getting him out into the route up the field. We’ll do all those things with him because…when he has it in his hands he makes things happen.”
Manfro said last season helped him adjust to the speed and hitting at the college level.
“I’m just trying to prove that I can be like any other running back,” he said.
X-rays performed on receiver Jerry Rice Jr.'s collarbone came back negative; Mora is calling the injury a sprain. Receiver Darius Bell (quadriceps), defensive end Cassius Marsh (ankle), Franklin (knee bruise) and receiver Ricky Marvray (back) were held out of practice.
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