While Prince struggled in scrimmages -- he completed 24 of 57 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in three sessions this spring -- Neuheisel said he and offensive coordinator Norm Chow saw enough to tap the redshirt freshman as No. 1 on the depth chart.
"While there were some growing pains, I still believe he showed the necessary poise and the understanding of what Norm is trying to get taught, not only at the position but also managing the game, that we think there is just a huge upside for Kevin," Neuheisel said. "So we're going to give him the chance to be our starting quarterback."
Neuheisel said he hadn't decided whether true freshman Richard Brehaut or Kevin Craft, last year's starter, will back up Prince.
"I want that competition to continue into the fall," Neuheisel said. "It's important these kids do everything they can to unseat Kevin Prince."
Prince, 6 feet 2 and 226 pounds, redshirted last year in large part because he was still recovering from a knee injury suffered his senior year at Crespi High School in Encino, Calif.
Prince was the decided leader in the competition even before spring practices began and worked primarily with the No. 1 offense the entire session. But when he missed his first six passes and threw an interception in the spring game at the Rose Bowl, his position seemed at least a bit less secure.
But he bounced back, connecting on 11 of his next 18 throws for 134 yards and a touchdown, which is something that caught Neuheisel's eye.
"He'd never played in the Rose Bowl before," Neuheisel said. "There are some nerves that go along with that. But what I liked most is his ability to weather bad things that happen to him."
Neuheisel also said that former quarterback Chris Forcier, who was moved to receiver during spring practices, hadn't decided yet if he would remain with the Bruins or transfer to another school where he can play quarterback.
College football blogger Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.