Ex-Bruin Caleb Johnson says he left UCLA for better program, better coaching
Former UCLA linebacker Caleb Johnson had quite the comment when asked by local Miami reporters about why he transferred from Westwood to Coral Gables this offseason.
According to The Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan and David Wilson, Johnson has taken nicely to his new team. He entered the transfer portal in early April, ultimately deciding to head out to Miami. Asked why, he said he felt the Hurricanes offered a better program and better coaching.
“Ultimately, I just wanted a better opportunity at I believe a better program — no offense to UCLA,’’ Johnson said. “I just saw a bigger platform and better coaching here.’’
He went on to say that Charlie Strong, a former head coach now serving as Miami’s co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, was a big part of his decision. Strong’s teaching style has resonated with Johnson, he said.
Johnson’s honesty is refreshing, but that answer might be tough to stomach for UCLA fans.
The senior inside linebacker started 17 of a possible 19 games during his two seasons in Westwood after arriving from Fullerton College. He led the Bruins in tackles during the 2020 season (44) and posted seven tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks en route to a second-team All-Pac-12 nod from the AP. He then had the sixth-most tackles on the defense last season (45).
With the defensive coaching staff at UCLA changing over this offseason, Johnson was initially expected to be a centerpiece of the new defense.
Jerry Azzinaro was replaced with Bill McGovern after a tenuous four years as the team’s defensive coordinator. Ken Norton Jr. also arrived to coach the inside ‘backers, taking over for Don Pellum.
For what it’s worth, in both of the programs’ last 19 games, Miami has only one more win than the Bruins. Johnson will get to debut with his new teammates when Miami opens its season against Bethune-Cookman on the ACC Network.