LOS ANGELES -- The star attractions at Paramount Pictures in the middle of Hollywood this week were not the A-listers running around the lot, but the group of decorated, veteran quarterbacks at Pac-12 Media Days. Ten teams have a starter at the position returning for the 2014 season, but none of the ones that ventured to Los Angeles to meet the media had as many cameras or attention around them as UCLA signal-caller Brett Hundley.
Perhaps that's the reason even his fellow players have dubbed him "Big Superstar." UCLA head coach Jim Mora, a longtime NFL coach, didn't seem to have a problem with Hundley's new nickname and Mora went out of his way to convey that he believes Hundley is capable of becoming a high pick in the 2015 NFL Draft if this is indeed the quarterback's last year in Westwood.
"Here's the thing about Brett, he's a thrower. He's a passer first. It would be awful for people to characterize Brett as a running quarterback. He's a quarterback who has great running ability if he needs it," Mora said. "When the NFL comes to evaluate him in earnest, they will absolutely fall in love with him.
"I can tell you unequivocally he's a first-round pick. He will be a star in the NFL."
Hundley has certainly been preparing as such as he enters what he has said will be his final year in college. He went to the Manning Passing Academy this summer and has spent many hours talking with quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning to learn more about the nuances of the position. Already quite media savvy, Hundley will also be getting early exposure to the rigors of coverage in the NFL by being one of the new stars on a Pac-12 Network show that is following the Bruins around this season in a style similar to HBO's Hard Knocks.
His draft evaluation after last season labeled Hundley as high as a second-round pick, but the affable Bruins star tried to dismiss talk that a big season would put him in position to be walking the red carpet next spring as a first-rounder.
"I didn't want to leave before I felt like it was time to go," Hundley said. "We built a great foundation at UCLA and to leave it that quick, I don't think I could have done it."
Mora is certainly glad Hundley decided to return for another season. Both of them agreed that the decision to return was best for the long term and one that will help Hundley ultimately live up to that first-round label some are placing on him.
"In Brett's case, it was the best thing for him to come back. It will make him a better player in the long run," Mora said. "His dream is not going anywhere. His dream is to play in the NFL and his dream could become more vivid. Maybe he wins the Heisman. Maybe he's the first pick."
That all sounds good to Hundley, but he says he's not getting caught up in the hype.
"Everybody wants to be the No. 1 draft pick -- and I want it myself -- but it's something I never really tried to look at or worry about. Those are everybody else's expectations and I just play because I like football," Hundley said. "At the end of the day, I enjoy being in the moment."
Perhaps that attitude is one of the reasons why Mora believes Hundley's potential is greater than what he showed last season and good enough to eventually lead him to NFL stardom.