If you take the word of Troy Aikman as gospel — and, really, what UCLA fan doesn't? — then Brett Hundley's decision to return for one last season in Westwood does more than help the Bruins.
It will also help Hundley.
There was talk that Hundley could been a high draft pick in May. An NFL draft survey did put him in the first round. Hundley passed, took out an insurance policy and came back to Westwood.
Good move, according to Aikman.
"He'll be doing some different things in that offense than he'll be doing ultimately in the NFL," Aikman said.
Aikman certainly has the background to judge. He had a 20-4 record in two seasons at UCLA and was the first overall pick in the 1989 draft. He won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and works as an NFL analyst for Fox.
As to what Hundley can learn from this season, Aikman said it wasn't so much a technique as it was the experience of another year running an offense.
"To me, if you say, 'What does he have an opportunity this year to work on, or things that will help him as he moves on to the next level?' You've heard me and others say it a million times: He's a tremendous, athletically gifted quarterback, but just to continue to make the plays within the pocket, throwing the football and reading defenses," Aikman said.
Hundley ranks third in UCLA history in passing yards (6,811) and touchdown passes (53). He needs 3,828 yards this season to pass Cade McNown, who was a four-year starter, as the Bruins' all-time leader in yards. He needs 16 touchdown passes to pass McNown as the program's leader.
Aikman is pleased with the attention Hundley has brought UCLA.
"It's been a while since we've had a player of his caliber or had the attention on the program," Aikman said. "I guess it goes back to probably when Cade McNown was there, the last time UCLA had that kind of attention and these kinds of expectations.
As for what he means to the Bruins this season, Coach Jim Mora was pretty clear.
"I wouldn't trade Brett for anybody in the country," Mora said. "Why would you? He's outstanding."
Linebacker Aaron Wallace may have needed training camp more than most. Wallace, a junior, missed spring practice after an academic issue forced him to leave the university. He returned for the summer quarter and got back to work.
"Sometimes when the game is taken from you like that, you realize how important it is to you," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said.
Wallace emerged as the right outside linebacker with the first-team base defense this week.
Ulbrich said that Wallace is showing, "a new level of toughness. Not to say he wasn't tough before, but he wasn't as consistent as he wanted to be, or as I wanted him to be. He showing more and more consistency."
Wallace has a bright future, Ulbrich said.
"I always knew he had the tools," Ulbrich said. "He looks like an NFL player. It's just a matter of playing like one, and he is finally starting to realize that potential. It's pretty exciting."
Get out of Dodge
UCLA went through a light workout Saturday at Cal State San Bernardino, with most of it dedicated to getting special teams on and off the field in game situations.
"It was a great way to end a really good camp up here in San Bernardino," Mora said. "We're relatively healthy. We're hardened. We're focused. Now we go back to UCLA and kind of fine-tune things."
The Bruins resume practice in preparation for their opener at Virginia on Aug. 30.
"We've been looking at film, but we won't start doing anything [on Virginia] until later in the week," Mora said.
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