By Gary Montgomery
Josh Rosen has record breaking debut as UCLA’s new quarterback
I am a firm believer that the overly exuberant tabloid world we live in today creates excess pressures on young athletes and sometimes overwhelms them to a point that stifles their potential and in many cases sabotages their careers.
After what can only be characterized as a phenomenal 2015 season, the media swooned over PGA golfer Jordan Speith to the point of near embarrassment. With headlines like “Could Jordan Speith be the greatest golfer ever?” After one successful season? Please. Why dump that level of plaudits on the young man at this point in his career?
Needless to say, Speith cooled off seemingly overnight, missed back to back playoff cuts and will most likely have to give back the number one ranking if he doesn’t have a strong performance in the next two events. There is no evidence to prove that the media’s groveling contributed to Speith’s slow down but it for sure didn’t help.
After watching UCLA Freshman signal caller Josh Rosen in his first game as the Bruins’ new starting quarterback, I have to break my own rule and join the galley of grovelers. The young man was simply phenomenal in his debut.
The 18-year freshman led the Bruins’ to a 34-16 win over the visiting Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon with all of the poise of a seasoned veteran.
Rosen, one of the nation’s top recruits, came to UCLA in January and used summer camp to beat out redshirt junior Jerry Neuheisel for the starting quarterback position. His high school resume includes nearly every award imaginable. Rosen threw for 3,186 yards and 29 touchdowns during his senior season at St John Bosco.
His high school career total of 8,473 yards passing and his 6’4’ 204 lbs. frame propelled him to the top of nearly all of the prep ratings service polls.
“There was never a moments concerns. I thought he was in command of everything from the start. I was never worried,” said UCLA coach Jim Mora when asked about Rosen’s performance against Virginia.
Rosen completed 28 of 35 passes for 351-yards and 3 touchdowns in Saturday’s win at the Rose Bowl. That equates to an 80% completion percentage which could easily have been even better if not for several drops by his receivers. In short, he was nearly perfect while showcasing his repertoire with no interceptions and only one sack.
The Bruins’ young signal caller became the first true (non redshirt) freshman to open the season at quarterback for UCLA. At the end of the afternoon, he had surpassed nearly ever freshman passing record in the UCLA history book.
When ask the typical question about the speed of the game at this level, his answer was interesting. “Actually, I think the game slows down. When you are practicing the defense knows what you’re going to run so you have a very short window of time. In the game, you have more time while the defense reacts,” said Rosen.
Saturday’s performance was the best first game performance by any freshman quarterback in UCLA history. Rosen broke records for attempts, completions and yardage all previously held by Cade McNown.
Unlike past seasons, when the Bruins spent weeks trying to choose between two signal callers, Rosen has seized the job and I would have to say “he’s a keeper.”