Only 76 players in the history of college football have earned the designation of Heisman Trophy winners. First awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy is considered the sport’s pinnacle of individual achievement.
SaturdayBlitz.com is tracking the race to the 78th Heisman Trophy throughout the 2013 college football season via the Heisman Top 25. Every week throughout the season, we are tracking the progress of the contenders, both their on-field impact and media presence.
Brett Hundley arrived in Westwood with much fanfare. The Chandler, Ariz. prospect was one of the most highly touted dual threat quarterback recruits of the 2011 class. Bruin fans did not get to see him in game action until 2012, but Hundley proved to be worth the wait. Breaking off a touchdown run on his first snap certainly set a positive tone for Hundley’s career.
As a redshirt freshman, Hundley helped lead UCLA to the Pac-12 championship game and nearly the Rose Bowl. Along with fellow first-year starter, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Hundley was arguably the conference’s best quarterback.
He’s dual-skilled but at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, has NFL size. With the pro-tested tutelage of Nole Mazzone, Hundley is a surefire NFL prospect. The question isn’t if he’ll be drafted, but whether if he will take a Heisman Trophy with him.
How Brett Hundley Wins The Heisman
UCLA fell just shy of winning the Pac-12 Conference championship in Hundley’s first year, when the freshman quarterback shared the spotlight with Doak Walker Award finalist Johnathan Franklin.
Should the Bruins get over that hump and reach the program’s first BCS bowl since 1998, Hundley should occupy the spotlight alone. And as is proven time and again, the spotlight shines a little brighter in Los Angeles.
Adjusting to play without the tremendously effective Franklin does pose its challenges, obviously. Following the Holiday Bowl loss to Baylor, Jim Mora said the offense starts with the run. No clear replacement emerged in the spring, so the onus is on Hundley to take up some of the slack.
A more aggressive attack from him out of the zone read is likely.
Hundley fits the mold of recent Heisman-winning quarterbacks. He’s dual-threat, as the last three consecutive and four of five to win at the position have been. Hundley is also an exciting player, which certainly doesn’t hurt his case.
UCLA plays a challenging schedule, giving Hundley multiple opportunities to stand out on a prominent stage. If UCLA finds itself ahead of the pack in the South once again, Hundley should find himself in the Heisman conversation.
• 319-479 passing (66.6 percent)
• 3745 passing yards
• 355 yards rushing
• 9 rushing touchdowns
Compared to Past Heisman Winners
- Robert Griffin III, 2011: The Baylor sensation set the college football world on fire en route to the Heisman Trophy two years ago, combining dazzling speed and an uncanny ability to read would-be tacklers, with a deceptively big arm and pinpoint accuracy.
Hundley is reminiscent of Griffin, both physically, in style of play and statistically. Griffin, while an effective rusher, was not scrambling all about the field at a 7-plus-yard per carry clip like Johnny Manziel. Rather, Baylor employed an offense very similar to Mazzone’s, which allowed Griffin to function as a dangerous complement to the feature back, Terrance Ganaway.
Griffin scored 10 touchdowns in 2011, just one more than Hundley. His completion percentage was 72, up from 67 the year prior — again, almost identical to Hundley’s 2012 output. Very small improvements would put Hundley on par with Griffin’s Heisman season.