When Coordinators Leave After Signing Day: UCLA’s Jeff Ulbrich Bolts to NFL


How convenient. As a top recruit in the nation you’ve got offers from Michigan, Texas A&M, and UCLA. In this case the 4 star athlete in question is LB Roquan Smith, ranked 28th overall in ESPN’s 150. The world is yours right Roquan? Having been courted by the Bruins, especially by Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, all Smith had to do was send in his letter of intent to UCLA and it was a done deal. ‘And by the way Roquan, I was offered a linebackers coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons but I turned it down,’ Ulbrich must’ve said. ‘Go ahead and sign here.’ At which point bells must’ve been going off for the youngster. Bells that culminated in Roquan Smith backing away from his commitment. And for good reason. The guy who recruited you, Jeff Ulbrich, DID in fact take that position in the NFL with the Falcons, but not before making one last ditch effort to get the coveted Roquan to sign the very morning of Ulbrich leaving UCLA.

"“I felt like Coach (Jim) Mora should have hit me up and said there’s potential that Coach Ulbrich may be leaving. Then, they tried to get me to go ahead and send the papers in, but I wasn’t doing it. They tried to get me to send them in at 8 in the morning. Doing a lot of research, which I should have done earlier in the process and thank goodness I had more time. I thought they were keeping it real with me. But you know people are going to lie.”"

On Friday, Roquan Smith submitted a financial aid agreement with Georgia, effectively placing him with the Bulldogs next season and ending the circus that was the recruitment of him by UCLA. It won’t be the last, nor the first time that this has happened. More often than not, it’s the kids signing letters of intent that choose to back away at the last minute, sending coordinators and head coaches to pulling their hair out in the stress filled environment that is college football recruiting. This is just more amplified because of the high ranking of the recruit in question, as well as the intended school, UCLA. The only fallout of this type of practice of recruiting is whether or not a recruit can back out of his Letter of Intent after Signing Day when the coordinator or head coach that recruited you leaves for another job before you’ve even set foot on campus. All that talk in your living room between the coach and your parents probably just seems like hogwash. But is it just the norm to be able to get that ESPN 150 athlete? It might be a Jim Mora and Jeff Ulbrich thing as well. Look at the video below and see how they conduct themselves on the sidelines in 2014 during the Oregon game and tell me they aren’t capable of shady actions. Ulbrich appears to quit during the game, only to see Mora take the Defensive scheme card away from Ulbrich before mouthing the words, ‘You’re fired!’ All right in front of a couple of stunned UCLA players.

Just last month Oklahoma made some coaching changes to its coaching staff, letting go of Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel and promoting Jerry Montgomery to Co-Defensive Coordinator alongside Mike Stoops. This past Tuesday, Montgomery left the Sooners for the NFL, leaving many wondering why. By all accounts, Jerry Montgomery was in coach Bob Stoops’ good graces, having been elevated to the position of Co-Defensive Coordinator in January only to leave less than a week after Signing Day to Green Bay to become a Defensive Front assistant.

Aug 30, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery before the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Shaking their heads must’ve been recruits like 4 star Ricky DeBerry from Mechanicsville, Virginia, whom Montgomery recruited. Surely, just like UCLA’s Jeff Ulbrich, Jerry Montgomery knew he was going to fly the coop, but they still felt the pressure to get that one last 4 or 5 star. And if they don’t get them, well there’s still that ‘new’ job to fall back on that the kid or his family doesn’t know about. How convenient…

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