Wilton Speight persuaded to join UCLA after hearing Chip Kelly pitch

ByKyle Bonagura via ESPN logo
Saturday, August 4, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Quarterback Wilton Speight understands why it's easy to question his decision to transfer from Michiganto UCLAto play for Chip Kelly in his final season of eligibility.

He doesn't fit the dual-threat mold that Kelly relied on during his time at Oregon and must emerge from a competition that includes four other players to win the starting job.

Those factors, he said, weren't of much concern.

"[Kelly] and I talked a lot about how he ran things with Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez [in the NFL]," said Speight, after his second practice with UCLA. "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."

Speight spent the winter rehabbing and training in Southern California, and he spent a lot of time with Sanchez. The former USC quarterback laid out a case for why it made sense for Speight to head to UCLA to play in Kelly's offense.

Speight also strongly considered going to LSU and Wyoming, and was in contact with both Baylor and USC.

"I think if you go through the process for four years, you see how things operate at a big-time program first-hand you kind of have a better idea in terms of when it's time to make a decision and what you're looking for," Speight said. "At the same time, you don't fall in love with, perhaps, the flashiness of a program like you would have when you were in high school because you've had it, and you realize it's only football.

"Obviously this is my last year, my last shot to show what I can do to get to the next level. And that's ultimately what it came down to."

His competition for the starting job includes last year's backup, Devon Modster, true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson, redshirt sophomore Matt Lynch and redshirt freshman Austin Burton.

"It's wide open," Kelly said Saturday. "There was nothing really solidified in the spring, so it's really wide open right now, and we've added three new guys [including freshman walk-on Josiah Norwood] to the mix. So we'll see what happens."

Kelly said he would have preferred to already have a starter in place but isn't willing to put a timeline on when a decision would come. He allowed for the possibility that he could play multiple players if the situation dictated it and that the evaluation process, despite the team not having practiced in pads yet, was already underway.

"We evaluate everything. We evaluate how they eat. We evaluate how they walk up and down stairs," Kelly said. "We evaluate everything. We've got a big decision to make, so everything is factored into this. Everything they do."