UCLA Football: A flurry of new coaches headed to Westwood.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13: Jerry Neuheisel
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13: Jerry Neuheisel /

The UCLA Football team didn’t have to wait long for the new year to usher in plenty of new faces among the coaching staff. Four new coaches have been announced for the Bruins including a familiar face.

We knew the UCLA Football staff wouldn’t likely return intact when Jim Mora was fired. When Chip Kelly was officially announced, and the powers that be made it clear mediocrity would no longer be tolerated, it became clear it wasn’t a matter of “if” certain coaches would be replaced but instead a question of “when”.

That timeline of “when” has almost officially come to a close.

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As reported by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, the following coaches can be expected to be officially named by the University shortly. Vince Oghobaase, Roy Manning, Thad Lewis and Jerry Neuheisel. Let’s start off with the most familiar name on that list.

Jerry Neuheisel came to the UCLA Football program in 2012 with his father, Rick Neuheisel, freshly ousted as the head coach of the Bruins. He played sparingly in his time at UCLA but did lead the Bruins to a huge comeback over the Texas Longhorns in 2014. He then left the Bruins with a year of eligibility remaining and played overseas in Japan in 2015.

The following year in 2016, Neuheisel found himself learning and coaching as a graduate assistant under former UCLA Football offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, at Texas A&M. 2017 saw him reprise this role and help Mazzone is shaping young QBs, Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. While Neuheisel had physical limitations as a college QB, no one ever questioned his football I.Q. and after spending seasons under Mazzone as first a player and then a coach, it isn’t difficult to imagine that while his role with the team might be small, his impact will be substantially larger.

Another former college QB turned coach is next on the list. Thad Lewis might not be a name that rings many bells for the average fan but for those that follow the game of college football closely, his connections could be incredibly helpful as an offensive analyst. A former Duke Blue Devil, Lewis was a four year starter. In his first two years as a starter he was known for having a big arm but for also being turnover prone. In his first two seasons, 2006-07, Lewis threw for 32 scores but an alarmingly high 26 interceptions.

Then came the 2008 season. David Cutcliffe was hired as the Duke head coach in December of 2007 and in his first season as HC the QB guru who recruited Eli Manning and groomed him at Ole Miss took the raw Lewis and turned him into one of the best passers in the ACC. In his last two seasons Lewis amassed 35 scores through the air with only 14 interceptions. Following college the young QB went undrafted and bounced around the league despite showing well whenever he was pressed into action. He was on Chip Kelly’s roster in Philadelphia and followed him to the 49ers when Kelly went west. His familiarity with what Kelly wants and with what he learned under Cutcliffe make him an under the radar type hiring with a potentially high ceiling.

Now come the big ones.

Roy Manning comes to the Bruins as the new UCLA Football special teams coach. The NCAA implemented a new rule allowing for ten assistant coaches instead of limiting teams to nine. Manning has a decorated past on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball including the RB coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats and most recently, the OLB coach for Washington State. He’s also rumored to be a major player in the recruiting game down in Los Angeles.

On the field, Manning takes over a unit that had more than it’s share of problems the past few years. Despite talent at the specialist positions, place kicker and punter, the Bruins still rank among the worst in college football when it comes to coverage units. That job was previously held by Scott White who split time between that and coaching the LB group with neither unit really playing up to par. Now the Bruins will have a dedicated coach to this unit, appointed by a head coach who clearly seems to understand the value that field position has on both their offense and defense.

Finally we get to our big fish of the day. Vince Oghobaase was a former standout for the Duke Blue Devils from the 2006-2009 seasons as was a major recruiting grab for the ACC cellar dweller. Following a very solid college career, the big man saw time in both the NFL and the CFL before returning to Duke in 2011 as a graduate assistant. From 2013-2015 Oghobaase was a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Mike Vrabel and Larry Johnson who has turned the OSU DL into something of a machine.

Oghobaase’s latest coaching stop was as the assistant DL coach for the San Francisco 49ers. Assistant to who you might ask. None other than new UCLA Football DC Jerry Azzinaro. While Azzinaro gets to run the whole defense, he’s got his man at the DL making sure that group runs and handles assignments exactly the way he wants it.

Next: UCLA Football: Top 5 Bruins of the 2017 season

The UCLA Football staff has all but come together for 2018 with the only hole at offensive coordinator. Whoever lands that job will likely also take on the QB coach position as well. We reported earlier in the week that one target for the position, Kevin O’Connell will remain with the Washington Redskins for the 2018 season.

Keep it locked onto Go Joe Bruin as we bring you news and analysis on all coaching moves yet to be made and any other developments concerning the UCLA Football team.