UCLA names former player Foster as new coach

UCLA hired former star player and longtime assistant coach DeShaun Foster as the school’s next head coach Monday.

Foster, who had taken a job as the Las Vegas Raiders‘ running backs coach earlier this month, is in the UCLA Hall of Fame as a player, served 10 years in various roles at the school and played seven seasons in the NFL. He emerged among a pool of 11 candidates interviewed by UCLA, many of whom were sitting head coaches.

Foster impressed the UCLA brass with his ability to lead and command a room. Per sources, school officials believe Foster can resonate in the Los Angeles market and emphasize recruiting and fundraising, part of the paradigm shift college football is undergoing in the era of name, image and likeness deals.

“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.”

Foster was also the overwhelming choice of the current players, who believe in him as a connecter and leader, sources said. The players “went crazy” upon hearing the news in a team meeting Monday morning, according to sources. Foster has worked under coaches Kliff Kingsbury, Jim Mora and Chip Kelly, and he played in a Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers under John Fox. UCLA sees him as a modern CEO coach who can identify and develop players.

“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,” athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “DeShaun checks all of those boxes and then some. He is a leader of men and a true Bruin.”

Foster replaces Kelly, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State last week. UCLA cast a wide net in its search, but the Bruins ultimately decided to go with a coach who has extensive local experience and has built a lot of credibility in the program and on campus.

Foster has been a standout assistant coach at UCLA as his running back room has consistently produced NFL tailbacks: a Bruins tailback has been picked in the past four NFL drafts. That list features Zach Charbonnet (2023), Brittain Brown (2022), Demetric Felton Jr. (2021) and Joshua Kelley (2020).

Foster spent a decade in various roles on the UCLA staff, including running backs coach from 2017 through this year. He’s also one of the school’s biggest stars.

As a Bruins tailback, he ran for 44 touchdowns and 3,194 yards and earned second-team All-America honors in 2001.

His playing career in the NFL was spent with the Panthers (2002-07) and the San Francisco 49ers (2008). With the Panthers, he scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

This post was originally published on ESPN

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