UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is playing for the right people now: his teammates, his coaches, his fans, himself.
But when the Bruins' season began, Hundley admitted, he was more mindful of another faction: NFL scouts. As one of college football's elite pro prospects, and playing the most important position on the field, that's only natural. But Hundley, a fourth-year junior, is now sticking with what comes even more naturally -- running with the ball to whatever extent his team needs him to and having fun.
"I think at the beginning of the season, there was a lot of thought, and I think it even got to me as far as not to run," Hundley said, according to latimes.com. "But I think after last week, I really reflected on all this stuff. Everything happens for a reason, and for me, it's all about winning games now. Focusing on the now. Doing that has gotten me to this point anyway, so why change? At this point, it's all about winning and doing what I have to do as a quarterback to lead the team to wins."
The numbers, along with UCLA's results, certainly support Hundley's assessment.
The Bruins (7-2) have won three consecutive games, and not coincidentally, Hundley has had his three best rushing performances of the year during that stretch. Saturday, he ran for a season-high 131 yards on 24 carries, in a 17-7 win over Arizona. Except for UCLA's win over Texas, a game Hundley couldn't finish because of an elbow injury, his 189 yards against the Wildcats were a season low. Scouts from half a dozen NFL clubs were there, and compared with some of Hundley's games this season, that was actually a low turnout. Nearly half the NFL was represented at Hundley's best performance of the season, a 62-27 thrashing of Arizona State.
But if Hundley decides to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft after the season, he says he'll worry about scouting opinions then. For now, it's all about the Bruins.
"I've shown a lot this year," he said. "I've shown I can sit in the pocket and do what I have to do. But at the end of the day, I know what got me here, and that's running the football, throwing the football, and having a good time, and not focusing on all that other stuff. Just focusing on the now and getting wins. You have to tell yourself that other stuff will come; all that other stuff will take care of itself."
Translation: UCLA's remaining opponents have been fairly warned. The guy who stood in the pocket and took 10 sacks in a loss to Utah is now more of a mind to tuck and run.
Whether scouts want to see it or not.