February 23, 2024

Pac 12 Media Day: UCLA coach Chip Kelly feels no pressure to start five-star Dante Moore in 2023

Dante Moore, Kent State transfer Collin Schlee and Ethan Garbers will all compete in fall camp for the right to be UCLA’s starting quarterback as the Bruins enter their final season in the Pac-12. While some think the pressure is on coach Chip Kelly to select true five-star Moore, the head coach recently revealed that he won’t factor in recruiting accolades when naming a starter.

“It was never our job to keep people happy,” Kelly said at Pac-12 Media Day on Friday. “I think the way you keep your whole team happy is that you’re fair to everybody and things are won on the pitch, not just because someone came in and they had a better reputation than someone else. If you pick Player B over Player A and everyone in the locker room thinks it’s Player A, that’s never a good situation. So it’s got to be won on the pitch.”

Moore flipped his commitment late in the recruiting cycle from Oregon to UCLA. He was ranked as the No. 1 overall player. 4 and quarterback No. 3 in the 2023 recruiting cycle according to 247Sports. If Moore wins the starting job, he would become the first true freshman quarterback to start the season opener at UCLA since Josh Rosen in 2015.

“He has a unique nature about him,” Kelly said of Moore. “He understands that innately. He doesn’t judge his life based on other people’s opinions. … Dante lives that every day. It’s pretty cool.”

While Moore offers the most upside, Garbers has the most Pac-12 experience. He was the backup quarterback for Thompson-Robinson last season and appeared in six games. Garbers began his college career at Washington before transferring to UCLA. His older brother, Chase, was the starting quarterback at another Pac-12 school in Cal.

Schlee comes in from the Group of Five, but has a better store than his opponent. Serving as the starter through Kent State’s brutal schedule last year, Schlee started against Oklahoma, Georgia and Washington — all on the road. The year before he appeared against No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Iowa.

“I’m comfortable with all of them,” Bruins center Duke Clemens said. “They’re all good people. I can relate to any of them, which is an asset to our team and how close we are.”

While the job looks wide open heading into the first practice, Kelly won’t hesitate to name a starter if someone separates himself from the competition.

“What I’m hoping over time with the training reps they get is that one person will lift a little bit more than another and everyone can see that,” Kelly said.

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