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Chip Kelly walks back UCLA football’s ‘Welcome to Transfer U’ post

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly runs onto the field at the Rose Bowl. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)

By Jon Christon

Sept. 15, 2022 5:48 p.m.

UCLA was officially branded “Transfer U.”

Until it wasn’t.

The official UCLA football Twitter and Instagram accounts posted a graphic titled “Welcome to Transfer U” on Monday, showing that the Bruins have had the most transfer starters of any team in the country since 2020. According to the graphic, UCLA has had 20 starters come from the transfer portal in the past three seasons, with Arizona State second on the list with 18.

But according to coach Chip Kelly, the posts were a “mistake.”

“That shouldn’t have gone up,” Kelly said.

While UCLA has used the transfer portal heavily since the coach’s arrival, Kelly said the post does not represent the team’s recruiting principles. Kelly said he builds a base using freshman recruits and only uses the transfer portal to supplement that initial base.

“I think what their point is, we’ve been very efficient with our portal,” Kelly said. “The kids we bring in here play and that’s a credit to how we do that. … There’s a ton of guys that go in the portal and I think that’s the M.O. for probably most teams in college football.”

The posts were eventually deleted as of Wednesday night.

A day off

“Load management” is a term most often used in association with the NBA.

Now, it has made its way to college football – and specifically the Bruins’ sideline.

Redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was taken out midway through the second quarter of his team’s 45-7 victory over Alabama State on Sept. 10, while senior running back Zach Charbonnet did not play a single snap in the contest. Thompson-Robinson said he was not injured in any way, and Charbonnet was in full uniform throughout the game.

Both were available for practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Thompson-Robinson – who finished with 101 passing yards and a touchdown before exiting the game in the middle of a drive after taking a hit to his legs – said he did not know before the game what the plan was and expected to play the entire contest.

“The competitor in me is a little frustrated,” Thompson-Robinson said after practice Monday. “But … we have a great backup, as well as the rest of the guys in the quarterback room, and I couldn’t be more happy with how those guys played.”

In Thompson-Robinson’s place was redshirt sophomore quarterback Ethan Garbers, who played the majority of the game and led the Bruins on four touchdown drives. Behind Garbers was senior quarterback Chase Griffin, who did not complete a pass in his one series at the helm of the offense to close out the contest.

At running back, redshirt junior Keegan Jones started the game before freshman T.J. Harden, redshirt junior Christian Grubb, redshirt freshman Deshun Murrell and redshirt junior wide receiver Colson Yankoff all received playing time in the backfield.

The reps were spread beyond quarterback and running back, however. Kelly said 88 Bruins played Saturday in total, among the most he’s ever seen.

“A lot of those guys have been key contributors to us from a scout team standpoint,” Kelly said Monday. “For them to get the reward of being able to go out and play in the Rose Bowl is pretty cool.”

With South Alabama next up on the schedule, Thompson-Robinson said he’ll be back out there leading the offense Saturday.

Targeting upheld

The Bruins will be without a key contributor on defense to open up its game against the Jaguars.

Redshirt junior defensive back Kenny Churchwell III will miss the first half of UCLA’s Saturday contest after being ejected for targeting in the second half of the win over Alabama State.

Kelly said the Bruins tried to appeal the suspension, but the ruling was upheld.

“It was a bang-bang play – It’s tough on some angles, it doesn’t look like there’s contact on other angles,” Kelly said Wednesday. “Kenny’s been really good. … We’ve just got to weather to storm while Kenny’s out in the first half.”

With Churchwell out, redshirt senior defensive backs Mo Osling III and Stephan Blaylock – the Bruins’ two official starters at safety on the depth chart – will soak up the majority of the playing time in the first half.

Through the first two games of the season, UCLA’s secondary has only given up 348 total passing yards. A year ago, the Bruins gave up 342.7 passing yards per game in nonconference play.

“We’ve gotten better from the first week, so that’s all we got to do – continue to stay on that trajectory,” said redshirt senior defensive back Azizi Hearn after practice on Tuesday.

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Jon Christon | Sports senior staff
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
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