Competition for starting quarterback job begins at UCLA

Competition for starting quarterback job begins at UCLA
UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel looks on before a game against Virginia on Aug. 30, 2014. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Day 1 of the UCLA quarterback competition was off to a routine start as the Bruins opened spring practice Tuesday.

Jerry Neuheisel and Asantti Woulard handled the team drills, while Josh Rosen watched and did individual drills. The two-at-a-time plan will be in effect at least trough the early part of spring, Coach Jim Mora said.


"We are going to rotate quarterbacks, focus on two each day getting the majority of the reps so they can get a concentrated group of plays," Mora said.

There was no significance to having Neuheisel and Woulard take the first day. They are both quarterbacks who have been in the system -- Neuheisel for three seasons and Woulard for two.

Rosen, though, remains the focal point of media attention. He was considered one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation at St. John Bosco last fall and enrolled at UCLA early to participate in spring practice.

"Josh didn't seem overwhelmed," Mora said. "Part of that is he has been here a quarter. He has been in the weight room. He has been on the field throwing with guys. it gives him a familiarity."

As for first-day analysis, Mora said, "The ball comes out of his hands nicely."

Rosen made several zip-line-like passes during individual drills, even on deep throws. His accuracy was exceptional.

Mora said that Rosen's most difficult chore will be "managing expectations, whether it's his own expectations, or our staff's expectations or our fans' expectations."

But, Mora said, "He's the type of young man who can handle it. He is very centered, very grounded."

The edge, for now, is with Neuheisel, who has game experience. He came off the bench to lead UCLA to a 20-17 victory over Texas last season.

"That not only builds that internal confidence, but your teammates have confidence in you," Mora said.

A decision on a quarterback won't come this spring.

"We just want to see them make progress and set themselves up going into [training] camp in San Bernardino," Mora said.