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UCLA might have a star-in-waiting with quarterback Asiantii Woulard

UCLA FOOTBALL

Freshman quarterback Asiantii Woulard has been impressive early on, and coaches have set him up for mentoring from starter Brett Hundley.

August 08, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA Coach Jim Mora has quarterback Brett Hundley as his incumbent starter, but not far behind him is freshman Asiantii Woulard.
UCLA Coach Jim Mora has quarterback Brett Hundley as his incumbent starter,… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Quarterback Brett Hundley is still building his legacy at UCLA. The Bruins, though, look like they have their next guy.

Freshman Asiantii Woulard already has the look of an heir. Woulard, from Winter Park, Fla., a late pickup in recruiting, had a second strong day Thursday, though Coach Jim Mora was cautious.

"He's swimming," Mora said. "He's swimming mentally."

Maybe others should take a dip in that pool.

Woulard has demonstrated both arm strength and touch the first two days. The Bruins will practice in pads Saturday, their first day of full-speed contact. That will be the next test.

But Woulard has shown plenty already.

"The mistakes he is making, I would expect him to make," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "If he wasn't making those, we'd really have found something."

The Bruins got a late start on Woulard, who had committed to South Florida then changed his mind. Mazzone received a call from friend and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who was the coach at the Elite 11, a prestigious high school quarterback competition.

Woulard was most valuable player last summer.

"Trent said, this guy is up there,' " Mazzone said.

Mazzone went to see for himself, bringing along a white board and marker.

"We started to teach our offense and then said, 'Go up to the board and show us what we just taught you,' " Mazzone said. "We made him draw defenses and explain them to us. We kind of had a position meeting."

Mazzone left thinking "That's a pretty sharp kid."

Woulard was initially lukewarm about UCLA.

"I was like a kid and it was so far away," Woulard said.

He quickly changed his mind after a visit.

Mora said Woulard, "has command. He just doesn't have it all down yet. But he's got presence."

So they have tethered him to Hundley.

"They have him rooming with me and he has the locker next to me," Hundley said. "The coaches haven't said anything to me, but it's pretty obvious they want me to mentor him."

He has.

"The playbook is complex, and I'm always asking Brett questions if I'm confused on something," Woulard said.

Mazzone said Woulard isn't too confused.

"He knows the pace we go at, and the decision making and communication," Mazzone said. "He doesn't get rattled."

Willis cleared

Freshman cornerback Priest Willis was cleared by the NCAA Thursday, Mora said.

It could be a big boost for the secondary.

After two days of practice, Mora said Willis "absolutely, positively can play corner at this level. He has the quickness, he has the burst and he has the length."

Quick hits

Safety Randall Goforth was not allowed to practice after being late to a meeting. He'll return Friday. … Offensive lineman John Lopez was limited to light workouts because of a minor ankle injury. … Running back Damien Thigpen (knee) seems ahead of schedule. "It's hard to predict when he will be ready to go, but I think it might be earlier than I originally thought," Mora said. Mora previously said that an October return would be likely.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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