In his three years as a starter at UCLA, quarterback Brett Hundley can look back and be proud of his career accomplishments. He finished his collegiate career as the school leader in career touchdown passes (75), total offensive yards (11,713) and completions (837). He also finds himself near the top of program records for passing yards, career rushing yards for a quarterback and career starts as a quarterback while donning a record of 29-11 as a starter.
Statistics aside, however, his favorite memories as a Bruin came against crosstown rival USC. Hundley never lost a game to the Trojans as a starter, leading UCLA to 111 total points in three consecutive wins. In those three games, Hundley completed over 70 percent of his passes (62-of-88) for 768 yards and four touchdowns. He also hurt USC with his feet, running for five more scores.
Joining former Bruins defensive linemen Datone Jones with the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago after being selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, Hundley might have some bragging rights going into his rookie season against the likes of former Trojans Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.
"I got some weight now," Hundley said with a laugh last Saturday.
Jokes and a successful collegiate career aside, Hundley's waited to get back on the field to play the game after months of draft preparation, and is now ready to begin his NFL career.
Only a couple weeks into his Packers career, Hundley enjoyed getting onto the practice field during the rookie minicamp last weekend, meeting new teammates and participating in drills. The 6'3, 226-pound rookie knows Green Bay is an organization known for producing quarterbacks and has focused on learning and adapting to a multitude of different aspects to his game both mentally and physically, whether it's checks at the line, cadences or footwork.
A big part of the transition comes from the new offensive system he'll be tasked to develop in. Hundley came from a spread offense with UCLA and head coach Jim Mora. Last weekend, he received the playbook of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's pro-style offense. Though the two systems are different, certain aspects like pass protections have some familiarities that are relatable, according to the 2014 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist. Hundley digested a vast amount of information in a short period of time last weekend.
"It's been quite a lot," Hundley said. "The playbook or rookie book was pretty big to say the least, so it was a good amount of information -- going through protections, run game, passes, concepts, checks, audibles, everything.
"There's a lot in that packet. I want to say it's almost a foundation of the offense that gets thrown at you, but I've seen the legit playbook, and there's a lot more to it. To learn it in a day or two, it took some time but you still gotta practice it and rep it to sort of get comfortable with it."
Though only having his first experiences running this new offense last weekend, he made a solid impression on his new head coach.
"Brett, I thought, threw the ball well," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said last Friday. "I thought particularly, anticipation. Anytime you watch a quarterback come in day one with all new receivers, new cadence, new center -- particularly working under center and exclusively with a new center. I thought he had some throws that he threw with a lot of anticipation.
"That's always encouraging, but there's always a lot to learn as particularly at that position. I'm sure there will be some things when he goes through the quarterback profile practice that we'll have with all the quarterbacks next week. There'll be something there that we'll to continue to work on -- but excellent athlete. I'm glad he's here."
After accounting for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) in a 40-35 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2015 Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2, Hundley began preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft. He trained at EXOS in Los Angeles, Calif. and Arizona. In California, he worked with noted coach Bill Cunerty, then also trained in Arizona with Super Bowl Champion Kurt Warner and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
He then participated in the whirlwind at the Combine. Hundley routinely woke up at 4 or 5 a.m. for team meetings and interviews. He performed well in the testing, running a 4.63 40-yard dash, executing a 36" vertical jump, and running the 20-yard shuttle in 3.98 seconds -- earning top Combine performances in all three skills tests.
All that was left was to continue to train, then hear his name called during the draft.
Hundley admitted he had a lot of nerves going into the draft and after not receiving a phone call from an NFL team during the first or second day. When he received a call from the Packers on that Saturday two weeks ago -- a feeling described as "awesome" by the 2014 Manning Award finalist, he was excited to begin his journey in the NFL.
"Just to see it's Green Bay and when I got on the call, they asked, 'Do you want to be a Packer?'" Hundley said, "and I said 'Yes.'
"I started crying. There's just so many emotions that go into it, and it's such a great opportunity and such a big blessing that you sort of get to be drafted because there are only a handful of guys out of thousands that are trying to get that opportunity."