UCLA starts spring practices Thursday, and third-year coach Rick Neuheisel said the getting-to-know-you period is over for him and his team.
It's time, to use his phrase, to "let the fur fly."
"Three springs into our term here, expectations are higher, not only externally but also internally," Neuheisel said. "The intensity needs to go up compared to springs before."
Neuheisel said sophomore Kevin Prince starts spring as a solid No. 1 at quarterback. Said Neuheisel, "We have a starter in Kevin Prince and he deserves to be named that. He had a very, very solid freshman season. But I don't want to water down Richard Brehaut's hopes of earning his spot in this lineup."
Neuheisel said Prince needs to become more accurate, while Brehaut, also a sophomore, needs to refine his knowledge of the offense.
Three seniors will miss spring practices due to injuries: offensive guard Darius Savage (back), offensive tackle Micah Kia (knee) and defensive end Reginald Stokes (knee).
Junior strong safety Tony Dye might be limited during practices due to a lingering toe problem. Offensive guard Eddie Williams is coming back from a foot injury, so he also might see only limited action, though he has been cleared for contact.
Two transfers are expected to immediately jump into the mix: sophomore tight end Joseph Fauria (Notre Dame) and junior receiver/return man Josh Smith (Colorado).
The only true freshman participating in spring practices from the 2010 recruiting class is offensive guard Wade Yardall. He's listed third on the left side of the line behind Jeff Baca and Stan Hasiak. True freshman linebacker Jared Koster is a grayshirt who joined the team in January.
Xavier Su'a-Filo, who started at left tackle as a true freshman, has gone on a two-year Mormon mission. Redshirt freshman Nik Abele is listed No. 1 at his spot, ahead of sophomore Brett Downey.
Four players have switched positions: sophomore Morrell Presley (receiver to tight end), junior Nate Chandler (tight end to defensive tackle, where he's listed as a starter), junior Glenn Love (safety to weakside linebacker) and senior Christian Ramirez (running back to defensive back).