Chip Kelly has an interesting decision looming at quarterback with some talented new faces in the fold. When asked about what all could go into who’ll start — the non-conference schedule and the possibility one starts and doesn’t pan out — Kelly bluntly summed up where things stand through spring practice.
“You’ve thought about it more than I have,” he jokingly told the reporter who asked the detailed question.
With Dorian Thompson-Robinson off to the NFL, it’s possible Ethan Garbers could start the year as UCLA’s QB1 after playing in six games last year. But the Bruins made a huge splash on the recruiting trail by bringing in Five Star Plus+ quarterback Dante Moore — the No. 2-ranked quarterback from the 2023 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.
Add in Kent State transfer Collin Schlee to a room that already included Justyn Martin and Chase Griffin, and Kelly has a few players who can be in the mix. That amount of talent is a reason why UCLA tried to rotate who got the reps in practice. As a result, they all have film to look at in the lead-up to fall camp.
“Our goal just going into the spring was just everybody needs to get experience,” Kelly said. “There’s more than just Dante and Ethan. There’s Collin Schlee, there’s Justyn Martin, there’s Chase Griffin. We’ve got a bunch of kids in there and they’re all rotating. If you watch them one day, we’ll start ones with the ones and there’s a different guy in there every day. And that was kind of our gist is how can we get quality film on tape that they can go back and watch?
“Now, they’ll spend a lot of time in the rest of May, June, July before we get back to camp in August of going through what we did in the spring. But you learn by doing, so we were just trying to get those guys as many reps as possible, get them acclimated to what we do offensively.”
UCLA still has some time before it kicks off the season against Coastal Carolina, and Kelly said it’ll take a while before a decision is made. One thing’s for sure, though. All of the quarterbacks took big strides throughout the spring.
The next step in the process is seeing who stands out come September.
“Obviously, Ethan and Justyn and Chase have been here before, but Collin and Dante weren’t,” Kelly said.” And I think all of them have progressed. All of them are better after training session 14 than they were with training session one. So there’s a progression going on there that we’re excited about. We have a lot of time before we play our first game.
“We haven’t had one discussion, depth-wise, at the quarterback position. [Quarterbacks coach Ryan Gunderson] just rotates them. And I think their snaps have really been evened out through the 14 training sessions. … That’s kind of what we’re trying to do, just get them as many reps as they can so they can all improve. Then, whoever becomes the starter when we get to September, I think that will work itself out down the road.”
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