New UCLA head coach Chip Kelly announced that Wilton Speight, a graduate transfer from Michigan, will start the Bruins’ season opener against Cincinnati on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Speight beat out redshirt sophomore Devon Modster and true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Kelly said earlier in the week that those three had separated themselves from redshirt sophomore Matt Lynch, redshirt freshman Austin Burton and freshman walk-on Josiah Norwood.
Speight started 16 of the 23 games he played during his career at Michigan, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2016. He sustained a back injury early in the fourth game last season and did not return.
The 6-foot-6, 232-pound Speight passed for 3,192 yards and 22 touchdowns with 10 interceptions during his career at Michigan.
“(Kelly) and I talked a lot about how he ran things with Nick Foles, Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez (in the NFL),” Speight said recently. “The success that he had with those guys, they could move but obviously weren’t dual-threat. I saw the success they had and the things he would tweak for those guys. I saw myself doing the same thing.”
Last season, Modster started two games for UCLA in place of injured starter Josh Rosen (concussion), No. 1 draft choice of the Arizona Cardinals, while Thompson-Robinson was rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and No. 34 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class, according to ESPN.