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Arizona football: Wildcats wary of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley

Brett Hundley is third in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Brett Hundley is third in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

In a perfect recruiting world for Arizona, Brett Hundley and Devin Fuller would be playing quarterback for the Wildcats.

Now, UA has to stop them as it takes on 16th-ranked on Homecoming on Saturday night (8 p.m., ESPN).

Former UA coach Mike Stoops and his staff didn’t gain enough traction with Hundley, who chose to not follow in his father’s footsteps. Brett Hundley Sr. was a running back at Arizona in the mid-1980s.

Hundley committed to UCLA at the beginning of his senior season at Chandler High School.

More than a year later, first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez targeted Fuller, from Norwood, N.J., as a potential centerpiece to his first recruiting class in Tucson. Fuller opted for UCLA, which moved him from quarterback to receiver midway through last season.

Hundley is a potential 2014 first-round NFL draft pick. Fuller leads UCLA with 34 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns.

“We thought he could play quarterback in the system and knew he could play somewhere else,” Rodriguez said of Fuller.

“It doesn’t surprise me he is doing well at wideout and returning kicks because he’s just a phenomenal athlete. Besides the obvious speed and agility and all that, it seems he has a great football sense about him as well and he understands a lot of things.

“He’s really getting better and better.”

Hundley is a gift from former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who also recruited Bruins standout linebacker Anthony Barr, a potential top 10 pick in the draft.

UA defensive tackle Tevin Hood calls Hundley a “dual-threat to the max.” Hundley, a load to bring down at 6-3, 222 pounds, has rushed for 431 yards and is 23rd nationally in passing efficiency with a 152.7 rating.

Rodriguez sounded most concerned about Hundley’s improvisational skills.

“I think he’s an intelligent runner, too,” Rodriguez said.

“What I mean by that, whether they call quarterback draw or he scrambles on his own, he does a good job of taking when is there and getting first downs and getting down before he takes a whole lot of shots.

“There is no question that on the unscheduled play, the play that maybe breaks down … he’s very dangerous when he moves around, because he can still throw it down the field as well.”

Chances are, Hundley will have time to throw down field because Arizona has only 10 sacks, which is next-to-last in the Pac-12. The Wildcats still have managed to lead the conference in pass defense, allowing 212.2 yards per game, but holding that status won’t be easy. Their final four opponents combine to average 314.3 passing yards per game.

Hundley completed 23 of 28 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns in last season’s 66-10 breeze over Arizona.

“You gotta try to disguise as much as you can because he’s a good quarterback and he knows how to come up and read coverages and switch plays,” said UA safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant.

“We have to move around and show him different packages and try to make him confused, make him scramble, hit him, do whatever he can disrupt him.

“He’s dangerous, but we’re going to do whatever we can and have people on him. When he leaves that pocket we have to make sure we rally to him and make him slide. If he tries to stay up, then we got to give him some hits and make sure he feels it the whole game.”

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