Four-star WR Chase Cota chooses UCLA

Four-star receiver Chase Cota unzipped his gray jacket to reveal a white long-sleeved T-shirt with his college choice scrawled across the front in Powderkeg Blue script: UCLA.

Cota, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound prospect from Medford, Ore., chose the Bruins over Notre Dame and Oregon, he told the crowd gathered in his high-school gym.

“I thought it was the best football and life choice for me,” Cota said, citing UCLA’s ranking as the top public university in the country. “It’s a special education and the coaching staff they brought in, I think it’s a special group of guys, I see a lot of good things in the future for them.”

The U.S. Army All-American said he plans to graduate from South Medford High in December and join the Bruins for winter quarter.

Cota is Chip Kelly’s fourth new commitment for the 2018 class and UCLA’s 12th overall. The receiver joins a growing group of offensive playmakers joining Kelly as the coach already added running back Kazmeir Allen, who now holds the national record for touchdowns in a single season by a high-school player, and Bryan Addison, the No. 1 athlete in the country, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings.

Here are Cota’s senior season highlights:

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UCLA announces hire of defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads

Paul Rhoads leads Iowa State out of the tunnel against West Virginia in 2015. Rhoads, who spent seven years as the Iowa State head coach, will be UCLA’s next defensive backs coach. (AP Photo)

Chip Kelly added another coach to his defensive staff with previous coordinator experience Wednesday as UCLA officially announced the hire of defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads.

Rhoads, who was the head coach at Iowa State from 2009-15, was most recently the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Arkansas, where he served as the interim head coach after Bret Bielema was fired in November.

The 50-year-old assistant spent two years with the Razorbacks, first as the defensive backs coach in 2016. Before Rhoads took over, the Razorbacks had the 116th-ranked passing defensive in the country, allowing 275.2 passing yards per game in 2015. He immediately boosted the group to 58th in the country in 2016, allowing 221.2 passing yards per game. Arkansas was ranked 88th last season with 242.2 yards allowed.

The Bruins allowed the fifth-lowest completion percentage in the Pac-12 this year, but gave up 18 passing touchdowns while grabbing only seven interceptions.

Rhoads is the third new coach hired under Kelly, joining defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro and linebackers coach Don Pellum, who both have previous coordinator experience. This will be Azzinaro’s fifth stint as a defensive coordinator and first since a three-year run at Duke from 2004-06. Pellum was Oregon’s defensive coordinator for two seasons.

While the defensive coaching staff will be almost entirely new, Kelly is expected to retain offensive line coach Hank Fraley, receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, and running backs coach DeShaun Foster on the offensive staff. Defensive line coach Angus McClure is also expected to stay at the school in some capacity as well.

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UCLA staff turnover begins as Scott White, Demetrice Martin leave

Defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin. Photo by Rachel Luna/San Bernardino Sun, SCNG

Linebackers coach Scott White and defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin have left the UCLA coaching staff, sources close to the situation said, two weeks before UCLA’s bowl game against Kansas State and one week before the early signing period.

Although the assistants were initially expected to coach the Bruins through their bowl game on Dec. 26, the new recruiting structure prompted the departures last week. New head coach Chip Kelly hired linebackers coach Don Pellum and defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads and needed to trim the staff to stay under the NCAA limit while the new assistants begin recruiting to prepare for the signing period on Dec. 20.

The school has also already announced the hire of new defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro.

White and Martin were paid through their contracts.

Graduate assistants Dalton Hilliard and Kyle Weiss will take over the defensive backs and linebackers as the team prepares for the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26 in Phoenix.

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UCLA loses longest-held commit ATH Isaiah Johnson

A few hours after UCLA grabbed a commitment from the top athlete in the country, Isaiah Johnson, a three-star athlete from Modesto Downey High, backed off the pledge he made in March.

Johnson, who was UCLA’s longest-held commit left in this class, told 247 Sports he’s still interested in several Pac-12 schools, including Cal, Colorado, Arizona and Washington State.

The Bruins have 11 known verbal commitments for the 2018 class, including three new ones under new head coach Chip Kelly. Serra athlete Bryan Addison announced his pledge Sunday night, joining running back Kazmeir Allen and offensive tackle Alec Anderson as Kelly’s first new commitments at UCLA.

Kelly hosted his first round of official visits last weekend. Tight end Tommy Tremble and offensive lineman Jarrett Bell, both undecided three-star recruits, were among the group that included Addison and committed quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The recruits toured the Rose Bowl, posed for photos in the Wasserman Football Center and met with coaches.

Tremble will announce his decision this Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Georgia native is deciding between Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan and UCLA.

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Bryan Addison, No. 1 ATH in the country, commits to UCLA

 

Serra High’s Bryan Addison verbally committed to UCLA on Sunday after finishing his official visit to campus. The defensive back/receiver is No. 1 athlete in the country, according to 247 Sports.

Serra High is often considered a USC feeding ground, but rather than following former Serra stars like Robert Woods and Adoree’ Jackson to USC, Addison will join Serra alumni Jordan Lasley, Caleb Wilson and Brandon Burton in Westwood. Lasley, a redshirt junior, starred for the Bruins this year with 1,136 yards in eight games. Wilson was also poised for a breakout season until a foot injury cut his year short. The redshirt sophomore tight end was averaging 97.8 receiving yards per game.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound senior had 41 catches for 530 yards and seven touchdowns on offense for the Cavaliers with five interceptions on defense as Serra was knocked out of the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Addison was also considering Nebraska, Michigan, Washington and Arizona State, where his older brother Joey Bryant plays.

Addison is Chip Kelly’s third verbal commitment since the head coach took over the job two weeks ago. He joins running back Kazmeir Allen from Tulare High and Alec Anderson, an offensive tackle from Etiwanda.

The Bruins have 12 known verbal commitments for the 2018 class with 10 days remaining before the early signing period.

Addison took his official visit with long-time UCLA commit quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, one of the most vocal figures in this recruiting cycle for the Bruins. The group also included tight end Tommy Tremble, offensive lineman Jarrett Bell, both undecided three-star recruits, and UCLA commits defensive end Abdul-Malik McClain and Anderson. The recruits toured the Rose Bowl, posed for photos in the Wasserman Football Center and met with coaches.

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