HomeFootballUCLA promotes longtime assistant DeShaun Foster to replace Chip Kelly as football...

UCLA promotes longtime assistant DeShaun Foster to replace Chip Kelly as football coach

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UCLA has hired longtime assistant and former NFL running back DeShaun Foster to be its next head football coach, Bruins athletic director Martin Jarmond announced Monday.

Foster, 44, played five of his six NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers but is a California guy at heart. He played high school football in Tustin, California − about a one-hour drive from UCLA − and starred for the Bruins before playing in the NFL. He’s since spent 10 of the past 11 seasons on the UCLA football staff in one capacity or another, most recently as the team’s running backs coach and associate head coach.

NFL Network reported earlier this month that Foster was on track to join the Las Vegas Raiders‘ coaching staff. Instead, he’ll now lead his alma mater, which he called “a dream come true.”

“I always envisioned being a Bruin ever since I was young, and now being the head coach at my alma mater is such a surreal feeling, and I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Foster said in a news release. “The foundation of this program will be built on discipline, respect and enthusiasm. These are phenomenal young men, and I’m excited to hit the ground running.”

The UCLA job was a late and surprising addition to the college football coaching carousel after head coach Chip Kelly left the post to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State last week. The move raised eyebrows around the sport, as sitting Power Five head coaches rarely leave to take coordinator roles − especially with teams in the same conference. (The Bruins will officially leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in August.)

ESPN reported that UCLA interviewed 11 candidates to replace Kelly, including multiple sitting head coaches. But just three days after Kelly’s departure was confirmed, the school decided to stay in-house with Foster, whom Jarmond described in a news release as “a true Bruin.”

“While undergoing a comprehensive search for our new head coach, DeShaun resonated from the start and throughout the whole process,” Jarmond said. “We are looking for a coach with integrity, energy and passion; someone who is a great teacher, who develops young men, is a great recruiter and fully embraces the NIL landscape to help our student-athletes. DeShaun checks all of those boxes and then some.”

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on social media @Tom_Schad.

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