UCLA’s Chip Kelly already puts quarterback defection behind him

UCLA quarterback Devon Modster carries the ball during a practice drill Tuesday.
(Steve Gazzulo / Los Angeles Times)

Talk around the UCLA football program the last few days centered on the defection of graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels to Colorado State.

Bruins head coach Chip Kelly made it clear before Tuesday morning’s practice at Spaulding Field that he has already put the issue behind him.

“Yes we talk to everyone we recruit, but he wasn’t here so nothing has changed,” said Kelly, who confirmed Carta-Samuels was never actually enrolled in a UCLA graduate program. So is Kelly looking for another graduate transfer? “No, we’ll figure it out,” he said. “We don’t know what’s out there but right now we’re going with what we’ve got.”


Carta-Samuels, who played three years as a backup at Washington State and was finishing his coursework, was expected to arrive around this time to compete with Devon Modster and incoming freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson for the starting position.

UCLA even sent out a tweet welcoming Carter-Samuels to the program during the last signing period, but two weeks ago Colorado State issued a release saying he was going there. Modster, out of Tesoro High in Rancho Santa Margarita, played in five games last season and started at Utah and against Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl.

The Bruins resumed spring practice Tuesday after a two-week break.

Among the players making their spring debuts at the two-hour practice without pads were junior college transfers Tyree Thompson (a linebacker from L.A. Valley College) and Je’Vari Anderson (a linebacker from Laney College in Oakland), along with incoming freshman wide receiver Chase Cota from South Medford High in Oregon. Safeties Will Lockett and Octavius Spencer, who did not participate in the first two weeks of practice for disciplinary reasons, also made their spring debuts.

“Coach gave us a bunch of workouts to do over the break,” said receiver Dymond Lee, who played wideout and quarterback at West Hills Chaminade. “I’m working on everything — my speed, my hands, yoga to stay limber, everything. The whole receiving corps is open for the taking. So we’ll see who the best guys are out here.”

Michael Alves, who missed the first six practices, was back from an undisclosed injury to do several early drills and fellow offensive lineman Jax Wacaser also practiced, but tight end Caleb Wilson remains out with a foot injury.

Wearing yellow jerseys and limited in their participation while recovering from injuries were defensive backs Colin Samuel and Keyon Riley, linebackers Lokeni Toailoa and Josh Woods, defensive linemen Greg Rogers and Rick Wade, defensive end Jaelan Phillips and Loyola High walk-on linebacker Winston Anawalt. In a position switch, Boss Tagaloa, a defensive lineman last year, moved to center.


“I just wanted to come in where I left off, I didn’t want to come feeling like I wasn’t doing anything over the break — I was studying my playbook and came out here today and it showed a lot of people that we’re ready to get better and fire around,” said junior linebacker Krys Barnes, who turned 20 on Monday. “The first week was challenging … with the pace it kicked my butt a little bit so I wasn’t used to that but as the weeks went on it got better and better. Today it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be after the two-week break. Some guys were hurting a bit but we got things done.”

Kelly put the Bruins through a brisk practice and even tossed a few spirals to his receivers and chatted with Bryan Addison, a four-star Gardena Serra wide receiver and safety, an early signee who will join the Bruins in June. The squad practiced in full pads in four of its first six practices but has only tackled for five minutes — in the final practice of the first spring session March 17.

“There’s little things as far as gap and coverage responsibilities but nothing major besides that,” Barnes said. “I’m still flying around to make plays. We all try to be greedy. Whoever gets there first we all fly behind to support him, we’re not just relying on the linemen, it’s all 11 on the team.”