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Report: UCLA has hired Brian Norwood away from Navy

Brian Norwood has been hired away from Navy to be an assistant at UCLA.
Brian Norwood has been hired away from Navy to be an assistant at UCLA. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Brian Norwood will leave the Navy football program after just one season to become assistant head coach, passing coordinator and defensive backs coach at UCLA, according to a published report by the Los Angeles Times.

Norwood would fill the vacancy created by the departure of Paul Rhoads, who left UCLA to become defensive coordinator at Arizona.

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Neither Norwood nor Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo returned a text message from The Capital seeking comment.

Norwood spent last season as Navy’s co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach. It was the second stint in Annapolis for the 54-year-old, who was previously an assistant under head coach Charlie Weatherbie from 1995-99.

Ford Higgins, team captain and starting center for the Navy football team, is now playing for the Navy lacrosse team.

Norwood came to Navy from Kansas State after spending one season there as co-defensive coordinator. The 29-year veteran of collegiate coaching was also defensive coordinator at Tulsa (2015-2017) and Baylor (2008-2010).

Norwood helped Kansas State improve from last in the Big 12 Conference in passing yardage allowed (309.1 per game in 2017) to fourth (245.8 per game in 2018). UCLA is seeking a similar turnaround after allowing a school-record 3,729 passing yards last season on the way to a 4-8 record.

Norwood came back to Navy because he is best friends with head coach Ken Niumatalolo, has close family in Maryland and loves the Annapolis area.

Norwood and Niumatalolo played football together at Radford High and the University of Hawaii and also coached together at Navy under Weatherbie. Norwood’s mother, who is a widow, lives in Prince George’s County. His daughter, who is engaged to Washington Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor, was living in D.C. at the time.

Navy's defense was overlooked again in the afterglow of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl victory as the media focused on quarterback Malcolm Perry and the offense. Nose guard Jackson Pittman and inside linebacker Diego Fagot spearheaded a defense that shut down Kansas State.

In an August profile that appeared in The Capital, Norwood talked about how much he enjoyed crabbing off the pier of his St. Margaret’s home during summer afternoons.

“I absolutely love blue crabs,” Norwood declared. “So that was big-time right there. Being able to get back to the Chesapeake Bay region definitely played a part in my decision.”

Norwood bought a home in the Pleasant Plains neighborhood, which is where he lived during his previous stint at Navy.

“One thing with moving back here: I told my wife I wanted a house on the water,” Norwood said. “I think the best way to enjoy Annapolis and what it offers is to be on the water.”

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