Wilton Speight opens UCLA's Chip Kelly era as starting QB

ByAdam Rittenberg ESPN logo
Friday, August 31, 2018

The Chip Kelly era at UCLAwill begin with Wilton Speight at quarterback.

Speight, a graduate transfer from Michigan, will start for the Bruins in Kelly's coaching debut Saturday against Cincinnati, the team announced Thursday afternoon. Speight won the job over redshirt sophomore Devon Modster and true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Kelly said earlier this week that the three had separated themselves from redshirt sophomore Matt Lynch, redshirt freshman Austin Burton and freshman walk-on Josiah Norwood.

Speight started 16 games for Michigan and appeared in 23, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2016. He suffered a back injury early in the fourth game of the 2017 season and did not return. The 6-foot-6, 232-pound Speight has 3,192 career pass yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Modster started two games in relief of Josh Rosen last season for UCLA, and Thompson-Robinson rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and No. 34 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class, according to ESPN.

Speight isn't the typical college quarterback for Kelly, as he had negative rushing totals in both years he played for Michigan. But Kelly has broadened his view for quarterbacks after coaching in the NFL, and he plans to incorporate more pro-style elements.

"[Kelly] and I talked a lot about how he ran things with Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez [in the NFL]," Speight said earlier this month. "The success that he had with those guys. They could move but obviously weren't dual-threat. I saw the success they had and the things he would tweak for those guys. I saw myself doing the same thing."