There was no coronation. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was not in an anointing mood. But there was little doubt what direction the UCLA quarterback situation is headed.
Kevin Prince, a redshirt freshman, handled the first team Monday, getting a large share of the reps. Freshman Richard Brehaut and senior-to-be Kevin Craft will technically be in the running, but the job appears to be Prince's to lose.
"I think Kevin is deserving of the reps he's getting," Neuheisel said. "Brehaut is gaining and Craft probably deserves a little more."
The coach-speak will keep the quarterback derby in motion, but Prince was far ahead of the field judging by his performance Monday. He completed a wide range of passes, from dump-offs to deep patterns. More important to those doing the judging, he portrayed a starting quarterback with his actions.
"What I want to see is a confidence, that self-esteem, when a guy goes into huddle and projects that this next thing is going to work," Neuheisel said. "And he's done that."
Neuheisel quickly added, "I have no problem with anybody's confidence level."
Prince, though, is showing that he belongs.
"He's been a pleasant surprise," tight end Logan Paulsen said. "He's kind of a quiet guy, but when he gets in the huddle, he's all business. He commands respect in the huddle, which being a redshirt freshman, would be a concern. I'm impressed with his maturity."
Those making the decisions are impressed as well.
"He has an understanding of the offense," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "You can give him two words of the play, and he's in it already."
On top of that, Chow said, "He has mobility and a nice, strong arm."
Neuheisel, when asked who had played the best of the group, said, "It's easy to say Prince because he has received the most chances."
But Neuheisel also said that Prince has stood out because "Kevin has the strongest arm. Quite frankly, the ball jumps off his hand and it gets there. And he is as accurate as anybody on the field. We're making plays on throws that were not automatics last year."
Prince can take another step toward what seems inevitable at the end of practice today, when the Bruins will scrimmage. The Bruins will have their first full scrimmage Saturday.
"There are still 11 practices left, and this can definitely still go either way," Prince said. "I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I just want to show I know everything and can get the job done so if I do get the starting job there won't be any controversy about it."
Defensive back E.J. Woods entered a plea of not guilty on four charges of sexual battery and two charges of battery in Los Angeles. A pretrial hearing is set for May 12.
Woods did not appear in court, with the pleas being entered by his attorney. Woods, who is participating in spring practices, said he has been told by his attorney not to comment on the charges.
Fullback Chane Moline suffered a minor hamstring injury and tailback Christian Ramirez was in pads but did little work because of a hamstring injury. They will be out until at least Saturday, Neuheisel said. . . . Quarterback-turned-receiver Chris Forcier sat out practice because of flu, Neuheisel said. Forcier was given his release two weeks ago to seek a transfer after refusing to switch positions but changed his mind.