Keegan Jones Returns To UCLA Bruins After Transfer Portal Entry

Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Only a few days after committing to UConn and former Bruins coach, Jim Mora, senior speedster running back Keegan Jones will return to Westwood and the UCLA Bruins for the 2024 season.

Jones had previously entered the transfer portal on the first day it was open for the winter cycle, namely, December 4th, and ultimately missed UCLA’s 35-22 triumph over Boise State in the LA Bowl. It was a move not all too surprising given Jones’ lack of touches in both the pass and run games, compared to his breakout 2022 season.

In fact, not utilizing Jones more, particularly after his dazzling and triumphant two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns over previously unbeaten and 13th-ranked Washington State, was one of the primary sources of fan contention with Chip Kelly’s play calling.

UCLA Bruins Keegan Jones Statistics

NCAA Football: Washington State at UCLA
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Two seasons ago, Jones was able to garner 332 yards rushing coupled with an additional 222 yards receiving and five total touchdowns, while having to share a backfield with current Seattle Seahawks budding star, Zach Charbonnet. Those numbers in 2023, without injury or a lack of effectiveness, plummeted to 152 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving with only two total scores.

Jones averaged a staggering 10.9 yards per rush this past season but was limited to a meager 14 carries. Furthermore, his yards per reception went up by a full yard to 10.6 while only being targeted for eight receptions – down from 21 in 2022.

Bringing a more engaged and utilized Jones back into the fold for 2024 sets up the potential for a dynamic backfield with returning junior TJ Harden, who is coming off an 827 rushing yards and eight touchdown campaign from only 156 carries.

Jones offers offensive flexibility where he can be lined up in the backfield or the slot, keeping a constant strain on opposing defenses. Not to mention, an ability to provide the Bruins with desperate explosiveness in special teams – a much-needed injection to a return game missing significant burst last season with the puzzling Kelly decision to use Colson Yankoff as the primary return specialist.

This is a coup for Chip, who now has a quintet of game-changing skill position players when combining Jones and Harden with J. Michael Sturdivant, Kyle Ford, and Notre Dame transfer Rico Flores Jr. on the outside. For all the talk about what the Bruins have lost this off-season, UCLA is going to be a sneaky good offense hitting home run explosives in the more conventional BIG-10.

With the experienced Ethan Garbers playing point guard and peppering the ball with decisiveness when healthy, expect the Bruins to subtly turn a few heads in 2024.