Part 8: Proven or Unproven? A Prince to Lead the Bruins
Kevin Prince was destined to be a UCLA Bruin from day one. Both Prince’s father and uncle played at UCLA and the young Prince was a ball boy for for the Bruins during the Karl Dorrell era in Westwood.
Now it is Rick Neuheisel’s show, and he doesn’t want Kevin Prince on the sideline holding a clipboard or being a ball boy this season. Neuheisel wants to see Kevin Prince lead the Bruins this season at quarterback.
The redshirt Freshman from Crespi high school in Encino, CA emerged as the Bruins No. 1 guy under center following spring workouts. However, Prince has not seen any game action since the first quarter of his senior season at Crespi in 2007 due to a knee injury.
Prince, a two-time team captain for head coach Jeremiah Ross at the small all-boys Catholic school, was superb in his game time, though. As a junior, Prince completed 112 of 197 passes for 1,422 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
If you compare those numbers to 2008 UCLA starting quarterback Kevin Craft (completed 232 of 417 passes for 2,341 yards, seven touchdowns and 20 interceptions), it seems that Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow have upgraded at the position significantly.
Granted, Craft was throwing against Pac-10 defenses for nine games, and although Prince played in one of the toughest high school leagues (Serra) in Southern California, that game experience will not nearly translate as well to actual intense Pac-10 game situations.
However, the 6’2”, 226-pound Prince showed glimpses that his high school game would translate after elevating his game in front of coaches at Spaulding Field and the spring game at the Rose Bowl, enough so that he was given the nod to enter fall camp as the No. 1 guy in Westwood.
Later during the spring scrimmages, though, his numbers were not ideal. In the three scrimmage sessions combined, Prince completed 24 of 57 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown, while gifting the defense with three interceptions.
A large number of incompletions were the result of batted balls and hurried passes due to a heavy pass rush on the youthful and inexperienced Bruin offensive line, an issue that plagued the Bruins' 2008 campaign.
"While there were some growing pains, I still believe he showed the necessary poise and the understanding of what Norm is trying to get taught, not only at the position but also managing the game, that we think there is just a huge upside for Kevin," Neuheisel said in an interview with ESPN’s Pac-10 blogger, Ted Miller.
The Bruins are coming off of a 4-8 season and are truly searching for consistency and leadership at the quarterback position. Neither of the two attributes have been evident in former UCLA quarterbacks since Drew Olson took snaps under center.
Olson sported No. 14 for the Bruins while throwing 34 touchdowns and leading them to a Sun Bowl victory in 2005.
Kevin Prince is listed as wearing No. 14 for UCLA as well, probably a coincidence, but a re-creation of Drew Olson wouldn’t be bad for UCLA either.
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