UCLA running back Jahmon McClendon makes a dash for the transfer portal
UCLA broke training camp Friday with one fewer running back.
Redshirt freshman Jahmon McClendon has entered the transfer portal and will not return to the team, coach Chip Kelly said.
McClendon did not play last season and his departure was not much of a surprise, given how well-stocked the Bruins are at his position. Beyond graduate transfer Brittain Brown and redshirt senior Demetric Felton Jr., who are expected to get the bulk of the carries this season, the team has junior Martell Irby, redshirt sophomore Kazmeir Allen and redshirt freshmen Keegan Jones and Christian Grubb in addition to redshirt junior Cole Kinder, a walk-on.
“We’re seven or eight deep there,” Kelly said. “There’s a lot of guys in that room right now.”
The Bruins’ depth was recently enhanced by Irby’s return to practice after being slowed early in camp by a knee injury.
Players who enter the transfer portal can stay with their current team after assessing their options, but Kelly said McClendon was no longer practicing with the Bruins and would complete his college career elsewhere. A San Diego native, McClendon had strongly considered San Diego State before signing with UCLA.
Chip Kelly is 7-17 in two seasons as UCLA’s football coach, but he has a new athletic director, Martin Jarmond, who says every coach has a “clean slate with me.”
Now he’s become the latest Bruin to depart, joining more than 80 other players who have left Kelly’s program with remaining eligibility since his arrival in November 2017.
“It’s kind of football in 2020,” Kelly said of McClendon leaving. “I wish him the best of luck and hope he finds a spot.”
Kelly apologized for not disclosing the indefinite suspension of reserve defensive lineman Steven Mason, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of felony domestic abuse. Mason was in quarantine at the time of the alleged incident after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus
“I was asked a question pointedly about COVID and he was the only kid that was in quarantine and I just said he was in quarantine, so that’s my fault,” Kelly said. “I apologize and I was wrong.”
Kelly said he could not comment on what factors might determine Mason’s future with the team. The Los Angeles Count district attorney’s office has declined to file charges, referring the case to the L.A. city attorney’s office for an informal resolution hearing.
Food for thought
Kelly declined to comment when asked if he was concerned about the optics of his team spending $5.4 million a year on food — significantly more than other teams that have enjoyed far greater success — at a time when the Bruins’ athletic department was running a massive deficit.
“I think our university answered that question for you,” Kelly said, referring to a statement in which the school explained that the expenditure on food was part of an increased investment in athletes “allowing them to reach their full potential.”
A reporter pressed the issue, asking Kelly how he felt about it.
As the centerpiece of a department facing a growing deficit, UCLA football has gorged itself on food spending that has no rival nationwide.
“I feel like our university does,” the coach said.
But you’re the head football coach, the reporter continued, so that’s why you’re being asked about it.
“And I know,” Kelly said. “I feel exactly like our university does. We’re in alignment.”
While Luke Akers and Nicholas Barr-Mira continue to battle for the kicking and punting jobs, both figure to be on the field whenever the Bruins attempt a field goal. Akers holds for Barr-Mira and Barr-Mira holds for Akers. “They are two peas in a pod and are with each other 24/7,” Kelly said. “Socially distanced, by the way.” … Kelly said redshirt senior wide receiver Ethan Fernea would have to sit out the season opener against Colorado on Nov. 7 as part of the NCAA’s conditions for granting him a fifth year of eligibility because he had played “one or two snaps” as a freshman. Fernea will be able to play in every other game this season. … Defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr. and outside linebacker Sitiveni Kaufusi did not practice because of injuries, Kelly said.
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