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DeShaun Foster, Martin Jarmond discuss future of UCLA football in press conference

UCLA football coach DeShaun Foster speaks during his introductory press conference at the Pavilion Club on Tuesday morning. Foster’s hiring was initially announced Monday following former coach Chip Kelly’s departure from Westwood on Friday. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Grace Whitaker

Feb. 13, 2024 2:49 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 13 at 9:01 p.m.

Athletic director Martin Jarmond took to the stage of the Pavilion Club on Tuesday to unveil the newest leader of UCLA football.

By Jarmond’s side, coach DeShaun Foster choked back tears while expressing his feelings toward landing the job, with roars of applause from family, alumni, donors and current and former players filling the room.

“This is something I’m built for, y’all,” Foster said. “I can do this. I’m going to put all my passion into this. I’m here for these boys.” 

UCLA’s new head coach was not only the team’s running backs coach since 2017 and associate head coach in 2023, but he is also a former Bruin himself who played running back for UCLA from 1998-2001. Foster and Jarmond spoke in front of media and fans to address everything from name, image and likeness to recruiting to attendance numbers, prompting Foster to lay out a trajectory for where he plans to take his program. 

Foster began his statements with a schematic look at the program’s future in his hands and said it begins with the three pillars he wants to implement. 

“It’s discipline, respect and enthusiasm,” Foster said. “That’s the three things we have to hit. … You have to be disciplined with playing football, both sides of the field. … You’ve got to respect your game. You’ve got to respect your teammates. You’ve got to respect your opponent, and you got to get out there and have fun.” 

Jarmond said Foster will be provided whatever he needs in order to transform the program. 

“Make no mistake – and I want to be clear with this – DeShaun Foster and this football program will get all the resources they need to be successful,” Jarmond said. “We are all in on him and this program and going to the Big Ten.”

On the precipice of the move to the Big Ten, Foster’s hiring launches UCLA into a new era. Jarmond and Foster also laid out their plans in the evolving college football landscape as NIL and the transfer portal continue to impact recruiting. 

NCAA rules stipulate that players have 30 days to enter the portal after a head coach departs. The portal opens Wednesday for UCLA players following former coach Chip Kelly’s departure, but Jarmond said as of Tuesday morning no players have transferred or expressed an intent to transfer.

In regard to his recruiting process, Foster said he plans to lean into a family atmosphere and emphasized his strengths with developing players. Foster pointed to former Los Angeles Chargers running back Joshua Kelley – who was in the audience Tuesday – as one of four players that he developed to be drafted in the last four years.

“You’re going to get developed to be a professional (at UCLA),” Foster said. “Josh Kelley’s here. That’s somebody that I developed. He’s a great back. I was able to develop him – he’s in the NFL.”

Foster smiles during his introduction. A former Bruin himself, Foster served as UCLA’s running backs coach every season since 2017 and added associate head coach to his title for the 2023 campaign. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Foster added that while he plans to take care of the LA recruiting scene and what he referred to as the team’s “backyard,” he is also looking to expand the program’s national recruiting. He referenced a number of UCLA Hall of Famers, such as Troy Aikman and Kenny Easley, who are not from California, and he said that he wants to bring the program into the national recruiting conversation.

For the NIL process, Jarmond said Foster has a meeting scheduled Wednesday with donors and the Men of Westwood collective and is aware of the importance of this aspect of the game in the current football landscape.

In addition to roster shifts, Foster will also need to rebuild his coaching room, with the positions of running backs coach, tight ends coach, linebackers coach and potentially offensive coordinator all being open. As for the lead offensive role, Foster said he is looking into it and doesn’t have a set plan in mind. 

“I’m going to hire somebody that has my type of DNA, what I’m looking for,” Foster said. “I don’t want to just put that (scheming) out there yet, so if you can just give me a little bit of time, then once I hire somebody, then I can get into depth about what we’re doing.”

When asked about low attendance numbers at the Rose Bowl in recent years – which featured a season-low crowd of 35,437 fans this year – Foster said he wants to return UCLA football back to the status he remembers it for, with packed stadiums and citywide excitement.

“We’re going to give them something they want to come see. That’s what it is. That’s all it is,” Foster said. “I’m going to give you something that you want to be a part of. You want to come out and support this.”

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Grace Whitaker | Sports senior staff
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
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