UCLA hired former star player and longtime assistant coach DeShaun Foster as the school’s next head coach on 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 that college football is undergoing in the era of Name, Image and Likeness.
“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. Foster has worked under Kliff Kingsbury, Jim Mora, Chip Kelly and played in a Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers under John Fox. They see 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. DeShaun checks all of those boxes and then some. He is a leader of men and a true Bruin,” athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement.
Foster replaces Kelly, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State last week. UCLA cast a wide net in its search, but they ultimately decided to go with a coach who has extensive local experience and has built a lot of credibility both 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, as a Bruins tailback has been picked in the last four NFL drafts. That list includes Zach Charbonnet (2023), Brittain Brown (2022), Demetric Felton (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 Bruin tailback, he ran for 44 touchdowns, 3,194 yards and earned second-team All-American honors in 2001.
His playing career in 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.
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