The Bruins are set to lose their second coach this month.
UCLA linebacker coach Jason Kaufusi is set to finalize a deal with Arizona to take over the same role, according to 247Sports’ WildcatAuthority.com. Kaufusi had held the post at Westwood since January 2019.
Kaufusi will follow former Bruins defensive line coach Johnny Nansen to Tucson, as he signed up to become the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator on Dec. 1.
Under Kaufusi, UCLA’s run defense ranked # 2 in the Pac-12 in 2020 and # 3 in 2021. The 2020 Bruins also led the Pac-12 in sacks per game with 3, 3 and came second this season with 2.2. Bo Calvert joined Kaufusi’s positional squad this season and reached career highs with 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, and Mitchell Agude improved his 2020 numbers to a record 6, 5 tackles for loss and lead the conference with four forced fumbles.
Kaufusi came to Westwood from Nevada, where he coached the defensive line for two seasons. Prior to that, Kaufusi spent three years with the Weber State squad, even winning the title of Defensive Coordinator in 2016, and was a graduate assistant at BYU from 2012 to 2013.
Prior to entering the coaching arena, Kaufusi was a defensive end in Utah, where he was co-Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2000 and a member of the All-Mountain West First Team in 2001 and 2002.
In his first full recruiting cycle with the Bruins, Kaufusi helped secure engagements from four-star prospects Damian Sellers and JonJon Vaughns, according to the 247Sports Composite. The following year, Kaufusi’s biggest blow was the real transfer of Notre Dame Devin Aupiu’s freshman year.
Sellers, Vaughns and Aupiu are all standing out as potential centerpieces of UCLA’s linebacking body in the near future, with Agude, Calvert, Caleb Johnson and Carl Jones all likely all gone after the 2022 season.
Edge rusher Myles Jackson was another young player Kaufusi had worked with this fall, but he’s already leaving UCLA after entering the transfer portal in late November.
Defensive analyst Clancy Pendergast, who was previously the defensive coordinator at USC, replaced Nansen on the defensive line ahead of the Bruins’ next Holiday Bowl appearance on December 28. It remains to be seen what coach Chip Kelly will do for the outside linebackers at this point, whether he promotes someone or adds the position to Pendergast or the responsibilities of inside linebacker coach Don Pellum.
While the Oregon head coach position may be filled soon, there was some serious buzz surrounding Kelly’s departure after Oregon asked to interview him on Thursday. Assuming Kelly returns, it is believed that he would be asked to replace Jerry Azzinaro as the defensive coordinator, so no matter what happens with Kelly in Oregon, UCLA is about to have a staff. very different defensive coaches in 2022.
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