UCLA names DeShaun Foster head coach after Chip Kelly's departure to Ohio State

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: UCLA Bruins running back coach DeShaun Foster during the college football game between the Alabama State Hornets and the UCLA Bruins on September 10, 2022, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DeShaun Foster is UCLA's new head coach. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UCLA moved quickly to find Chip Kelly’s replacement.

The school announced Monday that former Bruins running back DeShaun Foster would be its next head football coach. Foster has been UCLA’s running backs coach for the past seven seasons and was the team’s associate head coach in 2023.

"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."

UCLA was in need of a coach after Kelly left to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator on Friday. Kelly’s move was a surprise; not only was he leaving his position as a Power Five head coach to become an assistant at another school, he is joining a school in the same conference as the Bruins. UCLA is heading to the Big Ten before the 2024 football season.

Foster, 44, played at UCLA from 1998-2001 and had 1,109 rushing yards and 12 TDs as a senior. He scored 39 TDs over four seasons and finished with 686 carries for 3,049 yards.

He was taken in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and played in 79 games across six NFL seasons. In his NFL career, Foster rushed 927 times for 3,570 yards and also had 142 catches for 1,129 yards.

He got his start coaching college football as a student assistant at UCLA and spent a season at Texas Tech in 2016 as the team’s running backs coach before returning to his alma mater.

"While undergoing a comprehensive search for our new head coach, DeShaun resonated from the start and throughout the whole process," UCLA 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. He is a leader of men and a true Bruin. I am excited to partner with him as we usher UCLA Football into an exciting new era."

As UCLA’s new coach, Foster takes over a team that is coming off an 8-5 season in 2023 but didn’t add much talent in the offseason. UCLA’s 2024 recruiting class ranks 83rd in the country and its overall class of newcomers (including transfers) ranks 69th. The Bruins will also face one of the toughest schedules in the country in their first season in the Big Ten. UCLA plays LSU and Fresno State among its three non-conference games and draws Oregon, Penn State, Iowa and USC among its Big Ten opponents.