For now, the speculations that have come to characterize the Bruin quarterback position have dissolved.

UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel announced Thursday that Kevin Prince will assume the starting role at quarterback for the upcoming season.

Though the redshirt freshman struggled at times throughout the spring, Neuheisel is confident in his abilities to lead the Bruin offense into the 2009 season.

“While there were growing pains,” Neuheisel said, “I still believe he showed the necessary poise and understanding of what Norm (Chow) is trying to get taught, not only at the position but also managing the game.”

Prince said he was pleased with the decision but feels he still has a lot to work on. Despite being named the starter, he regards the title as anything but safe.

“(The coaches) could take it away just as soon as they gave it to me,” Prince said.

Neuheisel said he wanted to keep the contest open in the second-string slot to help promote healthy team competition. He encouraged last year’s starter, redshirt senior Kevin Craft, and true freshman Richard Brehaut to do everything they could to unsaddle Prince from the starting duty.

“That is the job of the assistant coach,” Neuheisel said, “to try and coach the backup to beat out the starter because that kind of competition will make our whole team better.”

The competition between Craft and Brehaut needs to be spirited, Neuheisel said, if not to help the players improve, then to reinvent the Bruin quarterback position and bring it back to a level of national recognition.

Over the past few seasons, UCLA has been plagued by inconsistency at the quarterback position.

Neuheisel is optimistic this inconsistency will change.

“I believe we have that in our coach, and now it’s time to play like that, so hopefully we can do it,” Neuheisel said. “I think the position is going to be a better position this year.”

Prince’s arm strength, size, poise and his progress throughout spring practice ultimately led the coaches to their decision. Even so, Neuheisel has confidence in the futures of Craft and Brehaut.

Of Brehaut, Neuheisel said he possesses the moxie to eventually thrive at the position but for now needs to learn more about the offense and improve his conditioning.

“The position isn’t too big for him,” Neuheisel said.

Neuheisel said that Craft, in light of being replaced as the starter, should come into fall camp with the determination to prove his abilities and to get back into the conversation.

In naming the starter before the offseason, Neuheisel said he believes it will lessen the doubt going into summer workouts.

“Our players will now know who to look to,” Neuheisel said. “It takes a little of the uncertainty out of the way.”

Despite Prince’s freshman status, Neuheisel believes he possesses the qualities necessary to lead the team.

Prince said he has learned a lot from the veteran players over the course of the spring in terms of leadership and what is expected of him in that capacity, and he looks forward to learning more as he takes his place behind center.

“I feel like I have a lot of room to grow into that leadership position,” Prince said, “but it’s off to a good start.”