The Chip Kelly era is officially underway in Westwood.
UCLA football took the field Tuesday morning for its first spring practice of the year. Kelly, who was hired as head coach in November, said he is entering spring with zero expectations and just wants to see what he has to work with.
“I have no idea what this team’s all about, so that’s what the whole spring will be about,” Kelly said. “I couldn’t tell you a strength or a weakness because we haven’t had a chance to deal with them.”
Despite having little information on his players’ abilities on the field, Kelly wasted no time putting the Bruins through the first phases of his famous up-tempo offense.
At Oregon, Kelly’s fast-paced spread offense brought the Ducks into the upper echelon of college football. They went 46-7 in his tenure as head coach and even reached the BCS National Championship Game in 2011.
Redshirt junior safety Adarius Pickett said he was aware of Kelly’s style coming in but was still taken aback.
“They said it was going to be fast, but it’s one thing between you hearing it and you actually doing it,” Pickett said.
Another topic of discussion Tuesday was position changes.
Redshirt sophomore Andre James, who is expected to make the move from right tackle over to left tackle in 2018, said he is excited about the switch and has set out to prove his versatility on the offensive line this spring.
“I want to be a versatile player that can play all positions, whatever it is,” James said. “I played some left guard last spring, and the spring before that I played left tackle, so it’s not anything new to me, (it’s) just another position on the field.”
Potentially joining James on the offensive line next season will be former defensive lineman Boss Tagaloa. The sophomore took snaps at the center position and impressed teammates with how well he appeared to be handling the transition.
“Hopefully it is a permanent switch,” James said. “How (Tagaloa) looked today was fantastic, he’s just like a natural out there so it was cool to see him.”
With players already shifting positions, Kelly was asked whether or not he would continue to test out more players in different spots. However, he remained firm on the notion that he was not familiar enough with his roster and that he would let things unfold over the course of the spring.
“Spring will play out,” Kelly said. “We’ll get a chance to take a look at some different spots, but again, we haven’t seen them do anything except … lifting and running with the strength and conditioning coaches and their staff.”
The Bruins only had one new recruit in attendance Tuesday, wide receiver Kyle Phillips. Kelly said he expects two or three more recruits to join practice after spring break.