LOS ANGELES — Head coach Chip Kelly announced Friday the hiring of Ryan Gunderson as quarterbacks coach at UCLA.
Gunderson, 36, comes to Westwood after a Pac-10 Conference playing career and experience on coaching staffs in the Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West conferences. He has been involved in 11 postseason bowl games either as a player, graduate assistant coach or staff member.
Gunderson joins the UCLA staff after serving as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at San José State University the past two seasons. In that period, the Spartans ranked among the nation’s top 20 in passing offense (19th in 2020 – 298.4 yards per game, fourth in 2019 – 338.0) each campaign. SJSU quarterbacks combined to throw for 43 touchdowns passes against just 17 interceptions over the two seasons.
In 2020, the Spartans defeated Boise State to win the Mountain West Football Championship and secure the school’s first outright league title since 1990 while completing the regular season with a perfect 7-0 record. For the first time since 2012, an SJSU team received votes in a national poll. The program was also ranked in the final two College Football Playoff rankings of 2020. During the regular season, SJSU outscored its opponents, 117-55, in the second halves of games. Quarterback Nick Starkel was named Player of the Week during the season by both the Manning Award and the Davey O’Brien Award. Starkel finished the season No. 19 on the NCAA passing yards per game listing (271.8) and was No. 23 in passing efficiency (152.6).
For the 2019 season, Gunderson was nominated for the Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). SJSU finished fourth nationally and tops in the Mountain West Conference in passing offense (338.0 yards per game). For the first half of the season, Gunderson utilized a two-quarterback system with starter Josh Love and freshman Nick Nash. Love finished the season as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and No. 3 nationally in passing yards per game at 326.9 and No. 7 in passing yards at 3,923. Receiver Tre Walker ranked third in the FBS in receiving yards per game (116.1) and fourth in catches per game (7.9).
Gunderson joined the SJSU coaching staff in 2017 as quarterbacks coach and then had his duties expanded to passing game coordinator in 2018. From 2017 to 2018, the SJSU passing offense improved its national ranking from 87th (198.0) to 32nd (262.2) by adding almost 70 yards per game to the average.
Prior to joining the SJSU staff, Gunderson worked as the University of Nebraska’s director of football player personnel for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. With the Huskers, he was directly involved in all aspects of student-athlete recruitment, roster management, social media activities for the head coach, prospect camps, staff and student-athlete compliance and assisting the offensive coordinator with plans and strategies on game day.
Gunderson embarked on his professional career at Oregon State as a graduate assistant for the 2008 season. He migrated into the school’s player personnel department in 2010 as the assistant director. For the 2014 season, he was promoted to the director’s role in that office.
The 2007 Oregon State University graduate majored in construction engineering management. He was a quarterback on the 2003 through 2007 Beaver teams, and the starter in the annual rivalry game versus Oregon in 2005. OSU competed in four bowl games during his Beaver career. Gunderson was named an OSU team captain for the 2007 season and was awarded the squad’s Coaches Award and Team Award at the end of the year. The Portland, Ore., native was a two-time Academic All-Pac-10 Conference selection.
He and his wife, Hilary, have a son, Cooper.