The Bruins have shown gradual improvement in every season under Chip Kelly, including back-to-back bowl appearances as UCLA has found some coaching stability under Kelly, entering their sixth season together.
UCLA Coaching Staff 2023
Kelly’s teams have improved their win total each season, save for the COVID-19 2020 season, but questions loom if Kelly and this coaching staff can return to the top of the Pac-12 this season, their final season in the conference as their move to the Big Ten happens next summer and Big Ten conference play starts in 2024.
Here’s a closer look at this season’s Bruins staff.
Head Coach, Chip Kelly
With his sixth season on the horizon, Kelly is officially the second-longest-tenured football coach, college or pro, in Los Angeles. Only Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams has coached longer in L.A. as he enters his seventh season.
Kelly has also matched the number of seasons his predecessor, Jim Mora, spent in Westwood before being fired. However, Kelly has managed to win over the university, Bruin fans, and alumni by showing improvement each season. Last season’s team produced the most wins since 2014 when Mora was the head coach. Could this be an indication of a potential 10-win season for the Bruins?
Kelly’s staff consists of a strong mix of continuity and former Bruins. Here are the other members of the 2023 coaching crew.
Defensive Coordinator, D’Anton Lynn
Lynn takes over for the late Bill McGovern, who passed away May 30.
Lynn will have top pass rusher Laiatu Latu back following a 10.5 sack season. Another key returner is ballhawk Jaylin Davies who led UCLA with three interceptions.
Lynn comes in with NFL pedigree as he was with the Baltimore Ravens in 2022 where he was the safeties coach for the AFC wildcard qualifier. Kyle Hamilton was one of his top playmakers.
Assistant Head Coach, Passing Game Coordinator, and Defensive Backs Coach, Brian Norwood
Norwood takes on multiple roles during UCLA’s practices, but he is likely to focus on coaching the safeties this upcoming year.
He first arrived in Westwood in 2020, although the season was shortened. Despite that, his unit led the conference in interceptions with nine.
Norwood has also developed two NFL safeties in Mo Osling III (Seattle Seahawks) and Stephan Blaylock (invited to Denver Broncos rookie minicamp on May 1). He has previously coached at the U.S. Naval Academy, Kansas State, Tulsa, and Baylor.
Inside Linebackers Coach, Ken Norton Jr.
Norton, a UCLA alum, joined McGovern in Westwood in 2022. The former Bruins All-American and Dick Butkus Award finalist played a crucial role in limiting opponents to just 3.8 rushing yards per carry.
Norton helped Darius Muasau, a transfer from Hawaii, earn second-team conference honors after recording a team-high 91 tackles. Like McGovern, Norton has his own extensive NFL experience, having previously worked with the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.
Outside Linebackers, Defensive Line Coach and Special Teams Coordinator, Ikaika Malloe
Malloe returns for his third season in Westwood, handling the duties of coaching outside linebackers and overseeing special teams. During the spring, he briefly worked with the defensive line, indicating that it will be the next unit he coaches.
Malloe played a significant role in the breakout season of Latu as his position coach. Before UCLA, he coached at his alma mater, the University of Washington, where he mentored two future Super Bowl winners, Vita Vea (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Greg Gaines (Rams).
Defensive Line Coach, Chad Kauha’aha’a
Kauha’aha’a made the transition to UCLA from UNLV in December 2021. One of his success stories was nose tackle Jay Toia, who recorded 10 tackles in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Kauha’aha’a has also coached notable defensive linemen, including USC’s Drake Jackson, a second-round pick in 2022, and Boise State’s Curtis Weaver.
Tight Ends Coach, Jeff Faris
Faris is entering his second season coaching the Bruins’ tight ends. Under his guidance, Michael Ezeike had a career-best season, including four touchdowns. Hudson Habermehl also experienced significant improvement under Faris in 2022. Faris previously coached Noah Gray at Duke, who went on to join the Kansas City Chiefs.
Offensive Line Coach, Tim Drevno
Drevno is in his second season as the offensive line coach in Westwood, having assumed the position in January 2022. The offensive line became one of UCLA’s strengths, as the Bruins were finalists for the Joe Moore Award, which recognizes the best offensive line unit in the nation.
Drevno, who also coached in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, recently produced two draft picks in Atonio Mafi (New England Patriots) and Jon Gaines II (Arizona Cardinals) in the 2023 Draft.
Wide Receivers Coach, Jerry Neuheisel
Neuheisel holds the distinction of being a legacy coach, as his father is former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. He has established himself as a consistent producer of NFL talent at the wide receiver position. Kyle Phillips (Tennessee Titans), Jake Bobo (Seahawks), and Kazmeir Allen (Washington Commanders) are some of the recent professional talents developed under his coaching in the last two seasons.
Running Backs Coach, DeShaun Foster
Foster has become one of the top recruiters in the conference and is known for producing top-notch running backs. Joshua Kelley, who became an NFL prospect under Foster’s guidance, was drafted by the Chargers in 2020. Demetric Felton also thrived under Foster and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the subsequent draft. The latest success story under Foster’s coaching is Zach Charbonnet, who worked his way to becoming a second-round pick with the Seattle Seahawks.
Quarterbacks Coach, Ryan Gunderson
Gunderson is entering his third season in Westwood. He is credited with improving the passing mechanics of Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who set a school record with a 69.6 completion percentage. In Gunderson’s first season, UCLA led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency and passing yards per completion. Prior to UCLA, he helped guide San Jose State to the 2020 Mountain West Conference title while operating a two-quarterback system with Josh Love and Nick Nash.