UCLA football: Kennedy Polamalu, new assistant coach, visits practice

Kennedy Polamalu, right, was a key part of the staff for former USC coach Lane Kiffin, left.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kennedy Polamalu will hit the recruiting trail for UCLA this week, less than a week after being hired as the Bruins’ running backs coach.

Polamalu, who attended the Bruins’ practice Saturday, said he “was shocked as anyone else when I got the phone call” from UCLA Coach Jim Mora.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” Polamalu said.

Mora said it was a no-brainer.

“You don’t find many better than Kennedy Polamalu,” Mora said. “His integrity is beyond reproach. All you have to do is talk with the guys he played with and the players he coached.”


Polamalu, who was an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, said he knew Mora from the NFL.

“People who worked for him, who knew, said he was a good man,” Polamalu said.

It was a move welcomed in his home. Polamalu may have a USC background, but, he said, “My wife graduated from UCLA, my in-laws are all UCLA graduates. They teased me that I finally saw the light.”

His USC friends are understanding, including his nephew, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Troy Polamalu.

Kennedy Polamalu played at USC from 1982-85. He did two stints as an assistant coach with the Trojans, the most recent from 2010-2012.

“They have all been very supportive,” Polamalu said. “Like my nephew, he was really happy I was coming to work with a good man. The guys I coached who are still over there told me, ‘Coach, you’re not an enemy, you’re an opponent.’ ”

As for his new players, UCLA’s running backs: “I told them I hope to have the type of relationship that goes beyond football,” Polamalu said.


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