UCLA football coach Chip Kelly spoke to the media before the Bruins’ fall camp session on Saturday. Kelly talks about the benefits of having a veteran roster, how the team was created to help players with mental health issues, and his thoughts on the current situation with the NIL.
The Rise of Dorian?
I think he’s been a great leader this offseason. We have some guys that have been here for a while – Stephan Blaylock, Moe, Sam Marrazzo, Dorian especially – who have done a great job leading the younger guys this offseason and had a great summer working with Coach Belton in our strength program and fitness and he was up to par yesterday – it was as good as a first practice… but I think it’s kind of expected. I mean, he’s a five-year-old running back who’s getting a lot of reps and getting better — he’s always been that type of guy that the more reps he gets, the better he gets, and he’s had a lot and we’re excited for what this season holds for him.
Damian Sellers and Mike Martinez status updates?
Yes, they are currently unavailable.
Not available at the moment.
Delon Hurt part of the program?
no Delon is not. Delon is a graduate.
John Gaines with his family again?
John will be here tonight.
He is here.
Not available for practice.
From what we’ve learned at the league meetings, it’s up to the individual counties and schools, so as far as I understand, there’s no league protocol that’s been sent out by the Pac-12, but that’s what LA County and UCLA determine.
Like what it was last year?
I think we’re right around the same thing, yeah.
Do you consider Barr-Mira a gambler? Do you think about it doing double duty?
yes We’re looking for the best kick-off, we’re looking for the best goal scorer, we’re looking for the best player, so Nick’s versatility is one of his strengths. He’s done a great job kicking and punting for us in the spring, so you know we’ve got a couple of other legs out there, obviously we’re in Day 2. Today is the first day of punting – we had a kickoff yesterday so he’ll get every opportunity to compete for that starting job. We were all impressed with what he did in the spring.
Unique challenges of doing both?
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It depends on the individual. There are some guys that can and do, and Nick is certainly one of them. He did a good job kicking in the spring, he did a good job punting in the spring, so we’ll see what happens throughout the competition [goes]. We have four or five kickers in camp and they will all get opportunities because of the way we train, but we are excited about Nick as our player. He would punt for us in our bowl game last year and then he continued to work throughout the offseason and did a really good job in the spring, so.
How does having an experienced squad help the transition to the new season?
They’ve been there, done that. So they can explain to younger children not only how we do things, but why we do them. We have a veteran leadership group, a lot of them have been here for five years, some guys like Mo Osling have been here for six years. I think we all went through something unique with COVID. The Bo Calverts of the world, the Dorians, the Gainesys, the Marazzos, those guys that have been around have really done a good job of mentoring the younger guys.
A system for mental health challenges?
Yes, our athletic department has done a great job with professional support. It’s not something that I think coaches or administrators, you should get the pros involved in it. We have a great CAPS program here on campus that is doing a lot of work there. But all of these referrals go through Dr. Goldman and Dr. McCallister through our medical team and then they take the lead in these situations.
Trains the first line of response?
We are, but if we find problems or see anything unusual about the young person, then we recommend them… we pass it on to the medical staff.
NIL for UCLA?
Well, we can just back it up. But we cannot collect player donations. I think people have kind of confused the whole rule. Name, Image and Likeness means that student-athletes can monetize their name, image and likeness, but coaches cannot be involved in brokering deals with student-athletes. This is not pay to play, this is not a recruiting incentive. Our school has established Westwood Exchange and business goes through Westwood Exchange. This is all signed by compass, which is our compliance office that we use. We partnered with a group, Influencer. I think we have over 140 businesses that have come through the Westwood Exchange to provide opportunities for our student-athletes. So I think our guys are doing a really good job. The thing is, guys really want to do it. Not everyone wants to be involved, not everyone wants to put in the time. Because you have to show work. This is not a quid pro quo. You must work. So if you want to make money in name, image and likeness, you have to be willing to go do the work that you need to do in name, image and likeness. People just can’t pay you X amount of dollars to do nothing. Maybe in other places it happens, but not here. So I think what our athletic department has done with the Westwood Exchange has been really helpful for us.
New offensive linemen like Raekwon O’Neal?
He looked good yesterday while running with a helmet. The big thing with offensive linemen and defensive linemen is — the first few days when they’re not in full pads — they really have to cooperate with each other. So he’s got really good football sense, he’s a smart kid when it comes to football and he seems to have good movement. Yesterday was the first time we had a chance to be on the field with him, so it’s going to be an ongoing deal with all these guys. I was impressed with his retention and I was impressed with his athleticism. But we really don’t have enough information [INAUDIBLE].
NIL big on attracting and keeping players?
Well, you don’t have to in order to keep them, because schools can’t hire people off your list. So it would be an NCAA violation if that happened. So I think if the NCAA enforcement catches up to the NCAA rules, I think we’ll be in a great situation.
Laitu Latu fully available?
He is fully available, yes. It is allowed for full stroke. It was full yesterday.
Where do you see it fitting in?
He has a lot of flexibility, he has a lot of athleticism. Again, like the offensive linemen thing, we haven’t been in full contact with him, but he’s obviously tall, long, athletic — he’s big, he’s 6’5″, he’s 275 pounds, but he can really runs So he’s playing outside linebacker for us right now, he did a good job in the first practice we had yesterday I think he can play a lot of different spots with his size and athleticism.
Sometime in the 1970s for scholarship players – how did you get there and what impact did it have?
It doesn’t work. We’ll be 85 by the end of camp. So we are [INAUDIBLE].
How will you get there?
What do you mean?
Will you be giving away scholarships?
No, we are not giving anything away. Children will earn opportunities for them. There are one or two more kids who could earn opportunities to receive a full scholarship. We’re in the 80s right now, so we don’t [INAUDIBLE].
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