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UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen is, indeed, that good

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)  ORG XMIT: PRB105 (Mark Terrill / Associated Press)
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: PRB105 (Mark Terrill / Associated Press)

PULLMAN – He has, for the most part, lived up to the hyperbolic expectations placed on The Chosen One since long before he ever enrolled in college.

The Bruins are just glad he chose UCLA.

Josh Rosen, a high school junior and the No. 1 quarterback recruit in his class, partook in the gaudy new tradition of holding a press conference to announce from which college he would accept a football scholarship, his choice signified by selecting one of three hats placed upon a table.

But Rosen’s ceremony wasn’t exactly typical. Rather than three finalists, all the hats on the table he sat at were powder blue, and they all said UCLA. Rosen didn’t select any of those hats however, instead whipping out a fourth hat from under the table and placing it on his head, mocking the vain ceremony even as he participated in it.

From the moment Rosen arrived in Westwood, it was widely assumed he would assume the starting mantle. It was only the next natural step in his gilded life. Rosen’s maternal family is a branch of the Wharton family tree (think: University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school) and his father is a surgeon of some renown.

His idyllic athletic childhood saw him become a nationally-ranked tennis player as a pre-teen, only to hang up his racket and pick up a football. Rosen became the most talked-about quarterback recruit in the country while leading St. John Bosco to a California state title and his high school team was bestowed a hypothetical national championship by some publications.

Shortly after arriving at UCLA, his teammates bestowed the nickname “J-Chosen” on the young quarterback. Shortly after that, he became the first true freshman quarterback in school history to start a season opener.

“He sees things quickly and really understands concepts,” said UCLA coach Jim Mora. “Both offensively and defensively, he understands concepts. We all see the physical skills but what people don’t see is how he studies during the week and practices during the week and how that manifests itself in terms of production on the field on Saturday.”

Wide receiver Logan Sweet is the older brother of Washington State receiver Kyle Sweet, and will celebrate his Senior Night on Saturday playing on the same field as the Cougar freshman for the first time in their organized football careers.

Sweet is one of many seniors on a veteran offense that knows its system well enough to function while a freshman quarterback learns the ropes. There just hasn’t been much of a learning curve.

“Josh has become close with a lot of the seniors and the way he works, too, gives the older guys a lot of respect for him,” Sweet said. “He’s very mature as a freshman. I’ve seen a lot of freshmen come in and not be able to handle the spotlight as well as Josh has.”

Rosen completed 80 percent of his passes and threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in his first college game, a 34-16 win against Virginia. When WSU (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) faces UCLA (7-2, 4-2), they’ll be facing a freshman quarterback, sure, but they’ll also be facing a nine-game starter who has thrown for 994 yards and six touchdowns in his last three starts, with no interceptions.

“Rosen is an elite quarterback,” said WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. “Unfortunately, he’s everything he was cracked up to be when he was coming out of high school.”

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