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With its starting quarterback set, UCLA looks at the backup spot

T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel are competing to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Brett Hundley. Asiantii Woulard, arriving this summer, also is a contender.

April 05, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • Quarterback Jerry Neuheisel is the most experienced of the reserves at UCLA.
Quarterback Jerry Neuheisel is the most experienced of the reserves at… (William Mancebo / Getty…)

UCLA does have a quarterback competition this spring practice.

It's just going on behind starter Brett Hundley.

Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut have graduated, leaving the Bruins without an experienced backup quarterback. T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel are competing to fill that role.

"It's like how we were last year trying to find a starter, the same song and dance," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "I would like to see someone emerge this spring."

Neuheisel, though he lacks college game experience, has been in the program two years. He sat out the first as a nonscholarship "gray shirt" and used his redshirt season last fall.

He was on the edge of the quarterback competition last spring.

"Every spring, I start off wanting to be the starter," Neuheisel said. "It's my job to push Brett and make him earn it again this year."

But Neuheisel looks long-term as well. "It's up to me to play as well as I can to solidify myself, if not as the No. 1 guy, then as the No. 2 guy," he said.

Millweard enrolled early a year ago to be able to compete in spring practice. It was a tough learning experience, with most of his passes wobbling.

"I enrolled on a Monday and started spring practice on Tuesday, " Millweard said. "There was a lot of transition for me."

Millweard and coaches tinkered with his throwing motion during the off-season. His passes have been mostly crisp spirals the first two days of spring practice.

"I have shortened things up and tried to get better balance," Millweard said. "Part of it is I'm a lot more comfortable. It was a rough spring last year."

Securing the second spot could be crucial a year from now. Hundley will be a sophomore in the fall but is in his third season in college. He can declare for the NFL draft after the 2013 season.

The wild card in the mix, arriving this summer, is Asiantii Woulard, who signed with UCLA in February. Woulard, who is from Winter Park (Fla.) High, was rated among the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation by recruiting websites.

Job hunting

Wide receiver Devin Lucien has made it clear — to the media — that he intends to be a starter in the fall.

Lucien underscored his desire after making three consecutive quality catches during practice Thursday. He passed by reporters, making a comment after each.

Catch 1 …

"Tell everyone, I'm coming for that starting spot."

Catch 2 …

"I'm telling y'all, you better tell somebody."

Catch 3 …

"That's automatic."

Catch-22 …

Coach Jim Mora might have an issue with such a PR campaign during practice.

Etc.

Linebacker Eric Kendricks left practice because of what was believed to be a sprained ankle. Mora expects him to miss "a couple days.'' … Defensive end Keenan Graham (hamstring) and guard Alexandru Ceachir (concussion symptoms) missed Thursday's practice. … Jerry Rice Jr., a UCLA receiver the last three seasons, said he will attempt to enroll in graduate school at Nevada Las Vegas so he can continue his football career. Rice will graduate from UCLA this spring and has one year of eligibility remaining.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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