UCLA head football coach Chip Kelly has chosen his starting quarterback for his return to the sidelines.
On Thursday, UCLA announced Wilton Speight, who transferred to the program this offseason from Michigan, will start Saturday's season-opening contest against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Speight beat out Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Devon Modster in the race to become the starting signal-caller.
Speight isn't the only quarterback who transferred from a Big Ten East porgram this offseason to land a starting job at another power conference school, as Joe Burrow did the same at LSU after leaving Ohio State.
UCLA's new starter was at his best in Michigan during the 2016 campaign when he nearly led the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff with 2,538 passing yards, 18 touchdown throws and seven interceptions. He appeared in only four games in 2017 because of injury and elected to leave the Michigan program.
Speight should ease into the 2018 season in the matchup against Cincinnati considering the Bearcats were an ugly 4-8 last season and finished 84th in the country in passing yards allowed per game. However, things will become much more difficult for the newly crowned starter in the second contest when the Bruins travel to Oklahoma to take on the formidable Sooners.
The decision to go with Speight with such a marquee contest looming comes after Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Daily News noted UCLA's initial depth chart had the quarterback listed as a co-starter alongside redshirt sophomore Modster and freshman Thompson-Robinson.
"The one thing that's good is there has been a really good healthy competition and the three of those guys have done some really impressive things," Kelly said of the situation, per Nguyen. "So we want to make sure we're thorough in our evaluation."
That evaluation apparently landed on Speight, and he will be tasked with leading the Bruins back to national relevancy after two straight losing seasons.