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Bruins have another Neuheisel on the field

Jerry Neuheisel, son of former coach Rick Neuheisel, follows in his dad's footsteps as a quarterback for UCLA. Whether the walk-on will get any playing time remains to be seen.

April 05, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • UCLA freshman quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, seen here practicing with Los Angeles Loyola high school in 2009, is hoping to work his way up the depth chart.
UCLA freshman quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, seen here practicing with… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

UCLA got rid of one Neuheisel last November (see: Rick, former head football coach).

But it gained another Neuheisel this spring (see: Jerry, walk-on freshman quarterback).

For the junior Neuheisel, who shares his dad's friendly demeanor, aw-shucks smile, set of narrow blue eyes, and head of thin blond locks, it's obviously a bit strange.

"As soon as I signed here, the dream was to win a Rose Bowl together," Neuheisel, who played at Los Angeles Loyola High School, said after the Bruins' spring practice Thursday.

Then his father was fired after a four-year run in which the Bruins had a 21-28 record.

But Neuheisel said he never wavered about coming to UCLA. "As much as people didn't believe me, I came here to be the UCLA quarterback," he said. "I didn't come here to play for my dad."

Neuheisel is hoping his UCLA playing career works out similarly to that of his father, a former walk-on quarterback who rose to become the Rose Bowl most valuable player in 1984.

But though there is no official depth chart, he is at least below Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley on the unofficial one. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said though Neuheisel doesn't have a towering presence — he's 6-foot-2, 190 pounds — he's football IQ is impressive.

"Every now and then, I have to say, 'Jerry, now I know you know the answer, but just listen for a second,'" Mazzone said. "He's fun. I like his attitude. He sees the big picture."

Neuheisel noted that the spread offense the Bruins will run under Coach Jim Mora and Mazzone actually suits him better than the "Pistol" offense that it ran under his father. "Funny how things work out," Neuheisel said.

In terms of advice, Neuheisel said his father — who signed on as analyst for the Pac-12 Network which could bring him back into contact with the Bruins — has told him just to stay ready.

"If I ever get a shot to play on the field, I don't plan to give that shot back," he said.

It might seem easier for Neuheisel now that his father isn't on the sideline, now that he no longer has to worry about a perception of preferential treatment.

But Neuheisel doesn't see it like that.

"My goal was always to prove if he was here that no matter what, I was the starting quarterback — not to him but to the guys on the team," he said.

"That's what my goal is still."

Quick hits

UCLA moved its season opener at Rice up two days to Aug. 30, Mora said. Kickoff time has not been announced.…The Bruins next practice on Saturday morning will be their first this spring in full pads.…Tight end Joseph Fauria left practice because of a tweaked right hamstring. Fauria has struggled with several pulled hamstrings and a pulled groin at UCLA. Receiver Ricky Marvray went out because of back pain but returned.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com twitter.com/baxterholmes

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