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‘Our brand is nationally’: Foster, Jarmond discuss boosting NIL in coming years

UCLA football coach DeShaun Foster (left) and athletic director Martin Jarmond (right) clasp hands at Foster’s introductory press conference. Both Jarmond and Foster discussed the future of UCLA’s NIL endeavors Tuesday. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Jack Nelson

Feb. 14, 2024 11:51 a.m.

There’s a definitive attitude Martin Jarmond associates with new head coach DeShaun Foster.

Hungry.

It’s also a word the athletic director used to describe what’s required of any successful program in today’s college football landscape.

“Recruiting and NIL is about relationship building, and it’s about hunger. It’s about activity and passion and energy, and DeShaun has that. He’s hungry for that,” Jarmond said. “He develops relationships probably better than anybody that I’ve been around, coach-wise, in a long time.”

UCLA football held an introductory press conference for Foster on Tuesday morning at the Pavilion Club, where the discussion of his coaching philosophy eventually arrived at NIL and recruiting – both areas his predecessor was criticized for.

Since new NCAA rules that allowed players to financially benefit from their names, images and likenesses went into effect in July 2021, the Bruins have failed to assemble a top-35 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. The final three groups overseen by former coach Chip Kelly came in at No. 61 in 2022, No. 37 in 2023 and No. 89 in 2024.

On3, which calculates team recruiting rankings that account for NIL earnings, placed UCLA at No. 37, No. 29 and No. 70 in those years, respectively. The highest-earning Bruin – redshirt junior quarterback Ethan Garbers – ranks No. 452 nationally in player-by-player revenue.

Jarmond dispelled the notion that the program isn’t in tune with the evolving NIL scene but said there’s room for growth under Foster.

“Everybody doesn’t know what everybody has. Every school says that they need more, but there’s a lot of numbers out there that don’t mean anything, so I don’t buy stock in, ‘We’re so behind,’” Jarmond said. “The fact is, we have guys that have NIL on the roster this year – we have plenty of them. Now, we’ve got to do that more.”

The fourth-year athletic director said UCLA has, at times, been slow to respond to changing NIL regulations, but added that he’s had appointments with around 16 donors in the past three weeks. He and Foster plan to meet with more in the coming days.

At the crux of a turning point in UCLA football history, Foster wasted little time in connecting with fans.

Just four hours after he was formally introduced, Men of Westwood – UCLA Athletics’ official NIL collective – posted a video on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in which Foster asked Bruin fans for financial support.

Kelly appeared in one promotional video late in the 2023 season. He never wore Men of Westwood apparel publicly, something that UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin has done as recently as Tuesday.

Foster’s NIL approach as head honcho will be more in line with Cronin’s.

“Same approach. We got to be billboards,” Foster said. “You got to see us. You got to be out in LA.”

In his Men of Westwood video, the Bruins’ new sideline steward pointed to NIL as a means of attracting recruits to UCLA.

Foster carries with him a local upbringing. Before his time on the recruiting trail as the Bruins’ running backs coach from 2017 to 2023, he first caught UCLA’s interest as a running back for Tustin High School – where his accolades would eventually qualify him for induction into the California High School Football Hall of Fame in 2022.

Recruiting has transformed into results. Four Bruin running backs recruited as transfers and out of high school and developed by the 2022 UCLA Athletic Hall of Famer have been selected in the past four NFL drafts.

“There’s a lot of relationships that I have, but we’re taking this nationally. This isn’t just a local, California, LA thing – this is a national recruiting, how I played when I was here at UCLA,” Foster said. “Our brand is nationally. We don’t have to downplay it to just being West Coast.”

From the moment Jarmond declared the beginning of UCLA’s head coach search, he has been vocal about finding a “CEO” – a leader he believes can oversee all aspects of a successful football program in the modern world.

NIL-driven recruiting is part of that world, and the Foster-era Bruins are already embracing it.

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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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