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DeShaun Foster hired as UCLA football’s 19th head coach, succeeding Chip Kelly

UCLA football coach DeShaun Foster (left) and athletic director Martin Jarmond (right) smile with a retro UCLA jersey printed with Foster’s name. Foster – who coached for 10 years with the Bruins before departing for the NFL just under two weeks ago – was announced Monday morning as the team’s new head coach, succeeding Chip Kelly. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Jack Nelson

Feb. 12, 2024 9:19 a.m.

This post was updated Feb. 13 at 8:47 p.m.

Just 10 days after the NFL poached their longtime assistant coach, the Bruins are poaching him right back.

UCLA football hired Las Vegas Raiders running backs coach DeShaun Foster as its next head coach, the program announced Monday morning. Foster – who served as UCLA’s running backs coach from 2017 to 2023 and associate head coach in the final year – will succeed former head coach and now-Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chip Kelly as the 19th head coach in program history.

“This is a dream come true,” Foster said in a statement. “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. 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.”

According to ESPN senior writer Pete Thamel, UCLA interviewed 11 candidates, many of whom already hold head coaching positions, but ultimately went with a first-time head coach with zero coordinator experience. Thamel later reported Monday afternoon that Foster’s contract is for five years.

A 2022 UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Foster has deep ties to Westwood. He played running back for the Bruins from 1998 to 2001, setting the program rushing record for a true freshman with 673 yards and racking up over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns – both on the ground – in each of his final two seasons.

Following a seven-year NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers, Foster made his coaching debut with UCLA in 2013 as a student assistant and stayed on until 2016. He then spent a year coaching running backs for Texas Tech before returning for his latest seven-year stint as the Bruins’ running backs coach.

Before his short-lived term as the Raiders’ running backs coach, Foster was the longest-tenured coach on the Bruins’ staff. And for his first venture into the head coaching world, he’ll be tasked with managing a crucial moment in UCLA football history.

The Bruins will kick off their first season in the Big Ten in 2024, and questions remain at multiple levels of the program. Foster’s new staff has holes at running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks coach, but he already has the support of his players – many of whom took to social media after Kelly’s departure to call for Foster to be the successor.

Beyond a 35-34 overall record and just one bowl win, Kelly faced criticism for poor recruiting and a refusal to embrace name, image and likeness in the ever-changing college football landscape.

UCLA has failed to win a conference championship since the 1998 season and has not played in the Rose Bowl Game since.

“While undergoing a comprehensive search for our new head coach, DeShaun resonated from the start and throughout the whole process,” athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “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.”

The DeShaun Foster era will dawn with an introductory press conference, scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m.

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Jack Nelson | Sports senior staff
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
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