Kansas State University

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley thrives in spotlight

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has been the Bruins’ starting quarterback for three seasons. Hundley was a second-team All-Pac 12 selection this season.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has been the Bruins’ starting quarterback for three seasons. Hundley was a second-team All-Pac 12 selection this season. Associated Press

Paul Perkins has been friends with UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley for a long time. Since they were little kids, growing up in Chandler, Ariz., and running on the same youth track team, the Cheetahs.

So take that into account when you read what he has to say.

“He hasn’t gone crazy yet, so I think he’s doing pretty good,” said Perkins, UCLA’s starting tailback. “He was raised well, so that has a lot to do with it, and just the kind of person he is … I think he does a a great job dealing with everything.”

That he does.

Hundley has handled three seasons as UCLA’s starting quarterback, and all that comes with it, with tremendous aplomb for someone who’s been the face of the program in Los Angeles — a city that loves famous faces — and come out the other side as, well, not crazy.

“Who is he? What’s his name again?” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone joked. “Seriously, he’s been amazing. He’s been the big reason we’ve been able to turn things around.”

Hundley, who has already said he’ll enter the NFL Draft early after this season, is the career leader in total offense and touchdown passes for No. 14 UCLA (9-3) headed into Friday’s Alamo Bowl against No. 11 Kansas State (9-3) and is projected as one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft.

Hundley is also trying to end his career with a winning record in bowl games — the Bruins lost to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl in 2012 and defeated Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

“It’s different, being from a pretty mellow town in Arizona and then coming to L.A. and becoming the face of the program,” Hundley said. “It’s a lot more than people might expect, but as a quarterback you’ve got to understand what you need to do and what you need to be on and off the field.”

Hundley has had plenty of guidance along the way to becoming a quarterback with a pro future, most notably from former Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, a person he talks to on a weekly basis.

“We met at the barber shop, same one I’ve been going to my entire life,” Hundley said, smiling. “(McNabb) has lived in Arizona for a long time, so my barber, Bam, introduced us when I was younger and we’ve been in contact ever since. He’s someone I’ve modeled my game after.”

Hundley, 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, could give the Wildcats fits on Friday — the second-team All-Pac 12 selection has thrown for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns, and has rushed for 548 yards and 8 touchdowns.

“He reminds me a lot of Trevone Boykin at TCU,” K-State defensive back Randall Evans said. “They can both throw it as good as they run it and they’re both about the same size.”

Hundley had nothing but praise for K-State’s defense, saying he thought he’d watched all of the Wildcats’ games twice already. He even came to the defense of K-State’s defense after a reporter’s question about facing a group that potentially didn’t have any future NFL players on it.

“You don’t need stars to have a good defense,” Hundley said. “You need reliable players, you need guys that can go out and get the job done when the game is on the line. That’s what K-State has. They have a lot of players who are on the same page, and that’s why they’ve been so successful.”

Reach Tony Adame at 316-268-6284 or tadame@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @t_adame.