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UCLA is again young, will depend on fresh Prince

July 30, 2009 | 10:59 am

Kevin_240 Like Dorian Gray, UCLA's football team remains young, but the picture is a year older.

That was the message second-year Coach Rick Neuheisel delivered at the Pacific 10 Conference media day. The Bruins, picked to finish seventh this season, remain a Lego set, but that doesn't dampen Neuheisel's trademark enthusiasm.

"Eighteen months later, I think we're a much more athletic team, stronger, more physical," Neuheisel said. "We're still relatively inexperienced. ... We have to get the youngsters to play above their year. That will be the key."

That points directly to quarterback Kevin Prince, a redshirt freshmen.

Prince comes into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback. He has not played a game in two years, missing all but one-half of his senior year at Encino Crespi High because of a knee injury. Still, the bar is set low. UCLA did not have a quarterback throw a touchdown pass in the last four games in 2008.  Arizona State returned three intercepted passes for touchdowns.

"He is very composed and wise beyond his year," Neuheisel said. "He has all the physical things you look for, he stands in the pocket, his arm is dangerous, he has all the different throws. We believe he has a chance to exploit all portions of the field."

But, Neuheisel warned, "We can't artificially create experience for him."

Linebacker Reggie Carter had a more up-close experience with Prince.

"We screamed all kinds of crazy things at him" during spring practice, Carter said. "He still made smart decisions. That's all he needs to do. He doesn't have to throw 80-yard touchdown passes, just make smart decisions."

-- Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince practices on August 5, 2008. Photo credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times.