Mora: UCLA freshman Rosen still hasn't won starting QB job
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) Josh Rosen's UCLA teammates have taken to calling the touted freshman ''J. Chosen,'' a play on both his name and his status as the top quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class.
But UCLA coach Jim Mora isn't ready to choose Rosen or anyone else as the successor to three-year starter Brett Hundley.
''We are no closer,'' Mora said Tuesday. ''There is nothing on the horizon with regards to a quarterback decision.''
Rosen is regarded as the strong favorite to beat out juniors Jerry Neuheisel and Mike Fafaul for the job, but all three have been inconsistent during Mora's annual fall camp excursion to Cal State San Bernardino. Part of that erratic play can be credited to UCLA's outstanding defense, which has turned up the pressure under new coordinator Tom Bradley.
With star linebacker Myles Jack leading an experienced front seven, the defense is providing the three potential quarterbacks with a much-needed lesson in what to expect in the Sept. 5 season opener against Virginia.
''Our defense is pretty darn good, and we're bringing a lot of heat, so they are having to earn their completions and earn their yards,'' Mora said. ''It sometimes looks sloppy for the quarterbacks out here, but in the long run I think it's really going to help them. I would rather them experience those types of things out here in San Bernardino and get it sorted out and get used to that feeling of constant pressure than to get into a game at the Rose Bowl ... and have that happen for the first time.''
The good news for the UCLA quarterbacks is they won't have Jack, outside linebacker Deon Hollins or defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes bearing down on them once the game starts. Still, Mora is ''waiting to see somebody win the job'' in a competition where the candidates are being evaluated at all times.
''I can't be the one to tell you how close they are, but they have been playing so well, all of them,'' said senior wide receiver Jordan Payton, Rosen's roommate in San Bernardino. ''I love what they are doing. The competition has been so intense. Even in meetings, it has just been back and forth between all of them.''
After participating in spring practice as an early enrollee, Rosen has made steady strides in his understanding of the offense and developing a rapport with his receivers. His biggest challenge has been playing with the consistency required of the quarterback position.
''Sometimes I get the same play and do two different things, come to the sideline and not really be able to explain why,'' Rosen said Tuesday while speaking with reporters for the first time in camp. ''I've just got to learn to calm down and control my emotions and play within myself, not be a hero.''
Rosen was pleased and somewhat surprised that the intensity of the competition has not led to any animosity among the quarterbacks, noting they remain friendly and hang out together. The camaraderie carries over to the rest of the team, Rosen said, even from his ''Chosen'' hecklers.
''They are just messing with me,'' Rosen said. ''It's funny. Everybody has got their nicknames.''