The UCLA Bruins and head coach Jim Mora Jr. announced Sunday that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will be leaving the program and making the leap to the NFL ranks. Ulbrich is set to take over as the Linebackers coach for the Atlanta Falcons under newly signed defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Ulbrich has been a part of Mora’s staff since 2011, but last season was his first as defensive coordinator, leading the unit to the third best overall defense in the Pac-12.
“I would like to thank Coach Ulbrich for everything he has done for UCLA football over the past three years,” Mora said. “The hard work he put in on a daily basis was surpassed only by his dedication to helping develop our student-athletes both on and off the field. It was a pleasure working alongside him and watching him develop as a coach, and I anticipate nothing but success for him in the future.”
Ulbrich’s departure leaves a major question mark surrounding the status of top linebacker recruit Roquan Smith. Smith had committed to the school during Wednesday’s National Signing Day, but never sent UCLA his official letter of intent. Reports allegedly surfaced that Ulbrich would be leaving the program, and those rumors seemingly dissuaded Smith from making his decision final. Ulbrich was Smith’s primary recruiter, and coach Mora must now scramble to save one of the top remaining recruits on UCLA’s big board.
The Bruins wrapped up the 2014 season with a 10-3 record winning the Alamo Bowl over the Kansas State Wildcats and will begin the 2015 campaign with a September home contest against the Virginia Cavaliers. 2015, however, will present many new challenges for the talented Bruins roster including the replacement of quarterback Brett Hundley as well as Ubrich.
*Section Photo credit to FootballScoop; Featured Photo (above) credit to UCLA Athletics