You can tell by Kevin Prince’s sideline demeanor that he’s a class act.
He’s not a backup quarterback with arms folded in a huff and a pout stained on his face.
On the contrary, Prince can be found talking to redshirt freshman Brett Hundley, who took his job as UCLA’s starting quarterback, early and often during games and practices and team meetings. Prince gives him advice, but he tries not to bog him down with too much information. He wants him to concentrate on being calm.
Helping Hundley is not painstaking. It’s not done begrudgingly. Prince does so because someone did it for him, too.
“For me, I’ve come full circle,” Prince said. “I was in Brett’s position as a freshman. I took the job from Kevin Craft when he was a senior. What Kevin did for me was so helpful in terms of helping me with my comfort level and doing the best he could to help.
“I think Brett deserves the job. He’s the right guy. He’s the starter, and I’m trying to emulate Kevin Craft and what he did. Pay it forward.”
Things are going well for UCLA in Jim Mora’s first year. The Bruins are 3-0 and host Oregon State in UCLA’s Pacific-12 Conference opener. This will be their third consecutive game at the Rose Bowl.
Prince is a 22-year-old, fifth-year senior, and he’s seen it all at UCLA. From injuries to a quarterback carousel, coaching changes, good play and poor play, the Crespi High product has withstood much. Things are getting good for UCLA now.
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“It’s been fun. I’m not going to sit here and say it wouldn’t be more fun if I was playing,” Prince said. “But to be able to see players improving, like Jordan James, my buddy Joe Fauria doing so well, all the young players doing so well, that’s fun.”
Prince started 11 games as a freshman in 2009 and threw for 2,050 yards and eight touchdowns with eight interceptions. The next season, he started five games, throwing five interceptions and three touchdowns before undergoing knee surgery.
Last year, he started the final eight games and threw for 1,828 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions as the Bruins went 6-8. He and senior Richard Brehaut have exchanged starts and both have suffered injuries, so they know things can change in a hurry.
This is a new challenge.
In fall camp in San Bernardino, it was clear Hundley would win the job. After Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone told the quarterbacks that Hundley was the starter – and that Brehaut and Prince would share backup duties, along with Jerry Neuheisel – Prince texted Hundley.
“As the freshman, you don’t want to ask older guys for help because there might be animosity,” Prince said. “But the day coaches sat us down, after that meeting I texted Brett to tell him I was going to be there and that I’d be his biggest supporter. I told him not to be afraid to ask for help.”
Hundley has taken him up on that offer. He said the best advice he’s received is the constant reminder to not lock in on one receiver and go through his reads.
“He’s like a bigger brother, him and Jet (Jonathan Franklin),” Hundley said. “On the field and off the field, completely. He’s a big role model. I haven’t gone through the things he has. He’s helped me a lot.”
Prince has done exactly what Mazzone has asked, by making the quarterback room a successful one.
“He probably does a better job coaching him,” Mazzone said with a laugh. “All I do is yell. He’ll have his arm around him. Even in meetings, he’s helping, showing him how he can be a little better. He and Richard Brehaut will bring things up. Everyone is coaching each other.”
The easy thing to do would be bitter. Prince wants to try to make it as an NFL quarterback, but it’s tough to showcase your talent when you’re signaling in plays from the sideline. He’s had his share of injuries, which have slowed his progress.
“I want to give the NFL a shot,” Prince said. “I’ll see if a pro day is a possibility. It’s always been a dream, but I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things.”
Prince got engaged to UCLA gymnast Tauny Frattone over the summer. He took her to her favorite Italian restaurant, C&O Trattoria in Venice. Prince set it up ahead of time that he and Frattone would get their sing-along lyric sheets for “That’s Amore” last, along with the ring, and then he got down on one knee.
The two will be married in April, and Prince has helped with wedding planning.
“I have to figure out something to make some money,” said Prince, who is thinking about a career in real estate, among other things, if he doesn’t get an opportunity in football.
He already went through graduation ceremonies in June and has just one class – an independent study course – this semester. That means he won’t actually be in a classroom this semester, except for Mora’s. Prince will graduate with a degree in history.
Prince could’ve transferred, but he said he never discussed it with his family.
“It’s been a long ride at UCLA, and I wanted to see this through,” Prince said. “It’s important I get my college degree. It didn’t even cross my mind. I felt I had something to offer Brett behind the scenes.”