UCLA loses key defensive assistant coach to NFL assistant position, per report

UCLA loses key defensive assistant coach to NFL assistant position, per report

UCLA hired Ken Norton Jr. two years ago around this time. Former head coach Chip Kelly brought him back to Westwood after serving in the NFL.

On Monday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Norton is moving back to the NFL and joining Dan Quinn on his Washington Commanders staff as the organization’s new linebackers coach. Norton was part of the defensive staff overhaul ahead of the 2022 season.

Norton played linebacker on four bowl-winning UCLA teams from 1984-87, finishing his senior season as an All-American and a Butkus Award finalist. He was on the ballot for the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class and inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame in 1998.

His return to UCLA ahead of the 2022 coincided with the arrival of former Hawaii linebacker Darius Muasau. Norton coached Muasau to a pair of second-team All-Pac-12 selections after producing 166 tackles. Muasau posted 10.5 tackles for loss in 2023 as UCLA’s defense had its best season of the Kelly era.

Defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn departed Westwood this season for a job on Lincoln Riley’s UCLA staff. In his place, Kelly elevated Ikaika Malloe to the role of defensive coordinator.

DeShaun Foster is returning to UCLA as the program’s new head coach after briefly accepting a position with the Las Vegas Raiders, providing some sense of continuity for the staff. With him at the helm and Malloe running the defense, the belief was that UCLA will be able to keep the bulk of its staff together.

Norton’s departure will be felt. He’s the fourth assistant from the 2023 staff to leave this offseason, joining Lynn, quarterbacks coach Ryan Gunderson, and tight ends coach Jeff Faris.

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