It has come full circle for Kwazi Gilmer. The four-star wide receiver was born in the UCLA Hospital while his mother went to school in Westwood. He was born a Bruin and he has committed to UCLA and Chip Kelly over Michigan State, Oklahoma and Washington.
“As soon as UCLA offered, they became the top school for me,” Gilmer told On3. “As I went out, I would compare other schools to UCLA. When I took visits, I would see how it fit compared to UCLA because they were the team to beat. Washington was real competition. I liked it there a lot. They are the one school I thought about committing to other than UCLA.
“Oklahoma impressed me on a visit and I had a good time at Michigan State, but I kept going back to UCLA. The feeling was different. I don’t know what it was, but I always had UCLA on top of my list in my mind.”
UCLA offered the No. 183 prospect in the On3 Industry Rankings in January. They then received the first official visit late in the spring. It was really over before it started for the four-star wide receiver out of West Hills (Calif.) Sierra Canyon.
“UCLA was my first official and it was set that way for a reason. I knew 100% on that visit that it was where I was going. They had a good idea that I was coming after that visit, but I wanted to finish out my visits, make sure of my feelings and nothing changed.
“When I got the UCLA offer, I was as happy as I could possibly be. I have been a Bruin since I was born. My mom is a UCLA alumnus, and while she was having me, she was at UCLA, and when she had me, she was at UCLA. I have been a Bruin my whole life. Why should I leave? I always thought that to myself. I know so much about UCLA, I love it at UCLA and it has been part of me for life, so this was the right place for me.”
Gilmer is excited about who he will be playing with at UCLA
Chip Kelly was involved. Jerry Neuheisel was Gilmer’s lead recruiter. Both were factors in his decision, but the 6-foot-1, 175-pound playmaker may be most excited about who will be thrown passes to him.
“A big thing for me and UCLA was them having Dante Moore,” Gilmer said. “I have known him for a while, then seeing him at UCLA and knowing what he can do under Coach Kelly helped them a lot. Dante is a great fit for UCLA. The offense will revolve around him and I see UCLA doing big things in the Big Ten. He is someone I am really looking forward to playing with when I get there.”
Gilmer believes Kelly will lead UCLA to many victories as they move into the Big Ten next season.
“Coach Kelly can do what he did at Oregon now at UCLA. He has Dante Moore running the offense, he is a strong offensive mind and he is getting the players to compete in the Big Ten. What stands out most about Coach Kelly is, he is real. It is his program, everything goes through him at UCLA and he has his hands in everything.
“The whole program is built around Coach Kelly and he has the program on the rise. He is not all in with recruiting all of the time, but he is focused on the team, the players on campus and making sure they are taken care of with nutrition, the facilities and making his players the best they can be. I know I be in great hands.”
Kelly and Gilmer were destined to end up together
Gilmer was born in Westwood, but moved to Eugene (Ore.) very early in life. He was there when Kelly was the head coach of the Oregon Ducks. That is when Gilmer first learned who his future coach was.
“It is really a funny thing about me and Coach Kelly,” Gilmer said. “We always seem to be in the same spot. I grew up in Eugene, so I knew all about what he did there, when he went to the NFL and all that.
“Then I move down to California and he ends up at UCLA. It is crazy how we have crossed paths in the same area twice now. Now it works out that he will be my head coach at UCLA. It is crazy how we end up together and I am excited about it.”
Gilmer sees a bright future at UCLA
Gilmer is also excited about the fact that he gets to play for Coach Jerry Neuheisel. The 31-year-old assistant and Gilmer have connected in a way that’s different than other coaches.
“When he first walked into my high school in that UCLA jacket, I didn’t even know Coach Neuheisel was a coach,” Gilmer said laughing. “He is just a cool coach. He is a young coach who I can just talk to about anything. Coach Neuheisel is a coach that will help me get my mind right, get me prepared to play at UCLA and one I can really relate to. We have some great conversations and he was a part of my commitment too.”
Not only did Neuheisel show Gilmer a lot of love. Kelly did too. And that is not normal. That showed how much of a priority he was to the Bruins,.
“Coach Kelly is a smart coach and he made me feel wanted and like he needed me there. He doesn’t recruit like a lot of other coaches do, so for him to take time to recruit me and make me feel wanted, made a big impact. Coach Kelly is about the team, and I get to be part of that. The coaches there made my decision easy.”