Brittain Brown’s arrival at UCLA adds more than depth to a backfield that also features Demetric Felton.
With Felton expected to be the lead back this season, Brown can still contribute to an offense that features several returning pieces.
“We are happy to have him,” Felton said. “He is an older guy and has helped take on some of the leadership role since (Joshua Kelley) left.”
Brown joined the Bruins this offseason as a graduate transfer from Duke, where he had 222 carries for 1,126 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons.
He credits Kelley’s success under Coach Chip Kelly as a reason why he found UCLA to be an enticing landing spot to continue his career.
“UCLA likes to run the ball a lot,” Brown said. “That played a big part in that … to see (Kelley) run for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, that is very motivating to get other running backs to come here.”
Brown was a candidate for the Doak Walker Award in 2019, the award given annually to the best running back in the nation, but had his season cut short because of a shoulder injury.
The Canton, Georgia native has also made an impression on the Bruins’ defensive players.
“I think he is doing a really good job for a guy coming into a new offense,” said defensive back Obi Eboh, a grad transfer from Stanford. “He’s running really hard. He runs angry.”
“That’s just the style I have adopted over the years,” Brown said. “I get that a lot. I like to run with an aggressive style.”
In Kelly’s offense, Brown might see an expanded role that goes beyond running the football. Brown could be used as a receiver, a role he hasn’t expanded upon since his freshman season at Duke.
“Demetric was a wide receiver before, so they liked to move him around,” Brown said. “I’ll probably be more of a running back, but they have moved me around too.”
As a receiver, Brown has 17 catches for 218 receiving yards and a touchdown over the last three seasons.
Colson Yankoff was penciled in as the backup to quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson this season, but those plans changed after he put in the request to Coach Kelly to switch to wide receiver this week.
The shakeup creates a position battle with less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 season opener against Colorado.
Chase Griffin and Chase Artopoeus appear to be the leading candidates to fill the backup role.
“We’re both getting a good amount of reps (with the second-team offense),” said Artopoeus, a walk-on. “I’ve been training the last year and a half here trying to get ready for that moment.”
Griffin did not play last season but remains confident in his ability if asked to fill in for Thompson-Robinson.
“I don’t focus on the depth chart,” Griffin said. “I’m more of a performance person. I know if my number is called I’ve prepared myself to go in and win that game.”
Thompson-Robinson missed just one start last season due to injury, but there were moments last season when injuries knocked the starting quarterback out of games.