UCLA backfield duo of Brown and Charbonnet are delighted to help produce on offense – Daily Bulletin
As UCLA football lost its top point guard Demetric Felton to the NFL this offseason, the Bruins have added depth and maturity to the running hall.
Brittain Brown is set to be the starting running back, having served in a key support position behind Felton as a graduate transfer from Duke for the 2020 season.
Brown is returning for his sixth season after taking advantage of the additional year of eligibility provided by the NCAA in the wake of the pandemic.
Junior Zach Charbonnet is the new face back in a familiar setting after being transferred from Michigan.
Charbonnet, a former Oaks Christian student, racked up 726 yards and 11 touchdowns with the Wolverines in 2019 but saw his production drop in 2020 to 124 yards in just 19 carries in five games.
His 11 touchdowns in 2019 set the Wolverines’ one-season touchdown record. He was also named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
Charbonnet should compliment Brown as a “1-2 punch” in the same way Brown was with Felton last season.
“Coaches tell us all the time that energy and leadership starts with running backs,” Brown said. “We have something for every situation. We have speed and power.
The Bruins will be able to display all dimensions of the running game behind an experienced offensive line led by Sean Rhyan and Paul Grattan.
Charbonnet told reporters the running backs were ready to “block or hit the hole at full speed” in order to keep the attack moving.
“There are monsters up there,” Brown said. “I know we have one of the most athletic lines in the country and we’ll take care of the business.
“They know the racing game is how we make our money and that’s what we love to do.”
Felton’s departure took away an explosive pass-catching ability out of the backfield, but the Bruins expect their new star fullbacks to continue to be guns as receivers.
Neither running back has provided much production as a wide receiver with their previous teams, but both are open to adding that dimension.
Charbonnet recorded 14 catches for 71 yards in 18 college football games. Brown has 23 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns in 32 games.
“I definitely want to elevate my game by being more dynamic,” said Charbonnet. “Whatever the team needs me and whether it’s catching the field or running, I’ll do it for them to the best of my ability.”
Ethan Fernea officially went from wide receiver to running back this spring. He shares his knowledge of the receiving game while learning from the experienced full backs in front of him.
“They’ve been playing at a high level for a while now and I’m the new guy in this role,” said Fernea. “I can watch how they make cuts and read the defense. They both run the ball with force.
Another addition to the running room is Deshun Murrell and he’s proven to be eager to learn and get involved in the rotation.
Charbonnet said he has noticed Murrell’s work ethic off the pitch and is “dedicated to learning the playbook” by reviewing the games every night.
Murrell, who played high school football in Alabama, has stayed true to his roots and added another level of personality to the running hall this summer.
“I saw him wearing a cowboy hat and boots the other day,” Brown said. “I told him you reminded me of home too because I’m from Georgia so I’m used to seeing it all.”
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was out for a third practice this week. Coach Chip Kelly said Thompson-Robinson was “unavailable” on Wednesday. UCLA did not train on Thursday.
Kelly will speak to reporters ahead of practice on Saturday.