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Chip Kelly’s first recruiting class at UCLA follows simple blueprint: get bigger

By in Press Enterprise on February 8, 2018

By Thuc Nhi Nguyen

LOS ANGELES — Chip Kelly revolutionized college football during his four years as head coach at Oregon. On Wednesday, after his first National Signing Day at UCLA, the head coach revealed the simple recruiting strategy behind his success.

“Big people beat up little people,” Kelly deadpanned. “So we’re looking for big people.”

Of the 27 signees UCLA announced Wednesday, 15 are listed at 6-foot-4 or taller. The balanced class includes recruits at every position except for specialists, led by five receivers, three of whom are four-star prospects who reach Kelly’s height standard, and five defensive backs.

“I think it’s a taller, longer game, and if you’re taller and longer at every position it’s gonna be a benefit,” Kelly said. “The same thing we did at wideout is the same thing we did at DB, linebacker, defensive line.”

The group is ranked 18th in the nation by 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings and fourth in the Pac-12. After a slow start due in part to the coaching change, UCLA surged into the top 20 nationally as Kelly landed 17 new recruits since January, including four who announced their decisions Wednesday.

Defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia, a three-star prospect from Texas, chose the Bruins over Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas Tech. Running back Martell Irby, a sturdy 5-8, 204-pound prospect from San Diego, completed a flip from Arizona, while defensive back Rayshad Williams backed off a longtime pledge to Vanderbilt, where he had been verbally committed since June.

Etiwanda receiver Michael Ezeike, a 6-4, 220-pound recruit who easily passes all of Kelly’s physical tests, picked UCLA over USC and Oregon.

“He reminds me a lot of Jordan Matthews, who played for me when I was in Philadelphia,” Kelly said. “Him, along with Bryan Addison and Chase Cota, we got three guys over 6-foot-3 … so I think that matchup against smaller (defensive […]    

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