On Monday, the news of the day was Carnell Lake stepping down as UCLA cornerbacks coach for family reasons. That opened up a spot on the Bruins' coaching staff that many figured would not be filled for a few days, but it took just two days to fill the spot on the staff. Today, UCLA announced that CRN had promoted Clark Lea, a graduate assistant the past two years, to the role of linebacker's coach.
UCLA head football coach Rick Neuheisel announced today that Clark Lea has been hired as an assistant coach. Lea will coach the linebackers and Tim Hundley will coach the secondary. He replaces cornerbacks coach Carnell Lake, who left the staff Monday due to family reasons.
This past season, Lea coached the Bruin linebackers as a second-year graduate assistant. Chuck Bullough, in his first year as defensive coordinator, focused his efforts on the entire defense while Lea was hand-on with the linebacking corps.
"Clark is an outstanding young coach with a very bright future," said Neuheisel. "I thought he did a fine job this past season with our group of linebackers. In addition, he is a dogged recruiter. Even though he was not allowed to go off-campus, he made a great impression on recruits and their families when they came to campus and built great relationships with several of the young men who signed with us, most notably Aramide Olaniyan."
I think that last part is one of the bigger reasons Lee was promoted. We all know that recruiting is the lifeblood of a program and that any time you can improve in that aspect, you need to do it. Lea was key in recruiting and multiple 2010 freshmen told me how great Lea was when they were on campus and how he did an excellent job building relationships via texts, emails, phone calls, etc. When CRN talks about Lea being "a dogged recruiter," he's not just pumping up his new hire. He really means it because it is true.
Another thing that Lea brings to the table is that youthful energy and fire that every staff needs. We have a lot of coaches who have been around and know their stuff. They’re highly, highly qualified, but one area that our staff is a little short in is fire and energy, specifically on the practice field. Lea will definitely help us out in that regard.
A also chimed in with some of his thoughts on how it sorts out our coaching staff that make sense.
My assumption and it’s only an assumption, is that Lea did a nice job last season working with Bullough (who was DC and LB coach) and that RN and CB felt most comfortable staying the course.
The only real change is that now Hundley will be handling DBs, instead of splitting safeties and corners with Lake (and Bullough no longer has responsibility for a position.)
Doing this will allow Bullough to focus on his responsibilities as DC. I think we saw a lack of discipline and some poor fundamentals at times from our linebackers and that could have been because Bullough could not devote all of his time to them. Hopefully now with a dedicated linebackers coach, that unit can step it up and with the youth we have at linebacker, it's crucial that they get all the coaching that they can.
On the whole, this looks like a good hire by CRN. As somewhat of an unknown quantity, we can't know for sure how this will turn out, but it looks like CRN has prioritized recruiting, stabilized coaching roles and compensated for some of the places where the rest of the staff is a little deficient. Throw in his ties to the South (played for Vanderbilt) that A brought up and if you're going to go young, Lea is about as qualified as it comes.