Following a new hire at a key assistant position, a longtime Bruins assistant is calling it quits.
On Thursday, coach Chip Kelly finalized his coaching staff with the addition of Ken Norton Jr. as inside linebackers coach, but that also signaled the end of Don Pellum’s four-year tenure in the position. Pellum confirmed the news later Thursday, posting a message to Instagram announcing his retirement from UCLA football and coaching.
“As I close this chapter of my life and retire from UCLA, I want to thank Coach Kelly and the UCLA family for a great ride,” Pellum said on Instagram. “No question in my mind why UCLA is an elite university…It’s the people!”
Pellum joined UCLA as a member of Kelly’s staff in 2017, being announced alongside now-former defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro. Both Pellum and Azzinaro have made their way out of Westwood early on in 2022, leaving zero left on the Bruins’ staff from Kelly’s original crew.
Linebackers have been a strong suit for the Bruins at the Rose Bowl over the past five years, leading into and during Pellum’s tenure. Groupings of linebackers have posted career-highs since Pellum’s arrival. Krys Barnes, Lokeni Toailoa and Leni Toailoa became consistent contributors in the Bruins’ 2019 defense, and more recently, Jordan Genmark Heath, Caleb Johnson and Ale Kaho contributed to the Pac-12’s second-best run defense in 2021.
Pellum was an Oregon assistant for 23 years before moving to Westwood – working intermittently in Eugene from 1988 to 2016.
Within the 60-year-old’s career with Oregon, he rose to his highest title in 2014 when he was named defensive coordinator of the Ducks. Pellum was demoted from the role the following year.
Pellum was known for his flashy suits and slick style on and off the field.
While visiting local schools, recruiting in the homes of prospects or showing up to the Rose Bowl on gamedays, Pellum always made a case for best dressed. His stylish outfits were always topped off with a hat, completing his look.
As a recruiter, Pellum had fallen off as of late. The Bruins had just one former four-star inside linebacker on the roster in 2021 – Kaho, who transferred from Alabama – and they are projected to be in the same spot in 2022.

In the Instagram post Pellum wrote, he expressed looking forward to spending time with his family now that he will be off of the coaching circuit.
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Benjamin Royer is a contributing writer at All Bruins, in association with the FanNation and Sports Illustrated networks. He is a second-year student at Los Angeles Valley College, where he is a Staff Writer for the school’s student-run newspaper, The Valley Star.


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