It didn’t come as a surprise when UCLA released its depth chart Monday that senior Demetric Felton was listed No. 1 on the Bruins’ depth chart at running back.
Felton has been the consensus top choice throughout training camp to take over for Joshua Kelley, now in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, and he’s ahead of a solid group that includes Duke transfer Brittain Brown, Kazmeir Allen, Keegan Jones and Martell Irby.
“It means a lot,” Felton said during a Zoom call with reporters. “I didn’t come here to play running back. I came in to work at it, get better each day and to be listed as the top running back means a lot to me.”
Felton was a receiver his freshman and sophomore years, and those skills helped him form a hybrid role last year behind Kelley that produced a lot of success. It would seem to complement the dual-threat abilities of junior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Last year, Felton rushed 86 times for 331 yards and a touchdown and caught 55 passes for 595 yards and four touchdowns.
“I see myself making plays whenever I get the chance,” Felton said. “Whether it’s a change-of-pace back or getting carries in between the tackles, I can do it all. I don’t think I’m limited to any kind of role.”
Felton and all the others have been watching college football on Saturdays for several weeks and they’re itching to get their turn, which comes this weekend when the Pac-12 opens play everywhere to kick off a seven-game schedule in seven weeks.
UCLA opens at 4 p.m. Saturday at Colorado (ESPN2).
“We look great,” Felton said. “We’ve been trying to work on our execution, communication, and I feel like we’ve been doing that very well so I’m excited to see what we do this Saturday.”
Redshirt senior Osa Odighizuwa is one of the leaders on the defensive line, finishing fifth on the team in tackles last year and was a starter in all 12 games.
Odighizuwa is one of more than 20 Bruins players listed on the Bruins’ two-deep depth chart in his third year at UCLA under coach Chip Kelly.
Even though UCLA hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success the past two years, winning just seven games, will the experience together produce wins?
“It’s helpful,” Odighizuwa said. “There’s guys who’ve seen battle before, guys who have been here and know how everything works, so it’s less guys we have to get up to speed.”
That experience and familiarity will also help the offense, Felton explained.
“Feels good having the same offense now, nothing too different,” Felton said. “Makes you be able to play faster and be a little more loose. And that’s when you’re not thinking and able to play your best football.”
VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE FOR HOME OPENER
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans are not allowed at UCLA home games at the Rose Bowl, but the Bruins’ game-day management has been working behind the scenes to provide a virtual experience that goes beyond just the television coverage when the Bruins host Utah in their home opener at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13.
BruinGamedayLive.com will feature live stats, social-media interactions, trivia contests and more.
“We are excited to bring a new element of excitement and engagement to home football game days this fall,” said Bruins athletic Martin Jarmond. “While things may be different around the Rose Bowl, fan engagement and connecting with those who support our student-athletes remains a top priority for UCLA Athletics. Bruin Gameday Live will provide our fans with a unique game-day perspective from the comfort of their homes.”