Name: Joshua Kelley
Hometown: Lancaster, CA
Joshua Kelley is a starting senior running back on the UCLA football team and is no stranger to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. Not only well-known for his football talents, Josh is described by his peers as the “nicest guy on campus.” Embodying the true essence of a student-athlete, Josh remains humble and driven to do well in class, on the field and to those around him. Her Campus UCLA sat down with Josh to discuss his football aspirations and his overall time at UCLA.
Her Campus: Describe your journey to UCLA. How did you get here?
Josh Kelley: Aw man this is crazy. My first two years were at UC Davis. That was my only offer out of high school. Then after my sophomore year, all my coaches had gotten fired. So after I realized I could either stay here, or I could shoot my shot at a high level. I really wanted to play big-time division. So I prayed about it, talked to God and talked to my family. And I was like you know what, I’m just gonna do it. So I talked to the coaches about transferring to a UC. There were really only 2 schools I wanted to go to… either UCLA or USC. I pretty much had to do what high school students had to do, and reach out and email coaches, back to the basics. That didn’t work. So I decided to call the front office of UCLA and it ended up working… but it was a slow process. I actually remember calling USC and they straight off the bat declined and said they weren’t interested. For UCLA, I talked to the running back coach, Coach Foster, showed him my tape… and I think he liked it! And then I met him in person and he asked me if I wanted to walk on. There definitely was a realization point where I was like “Man I just transferred… am I ever going to play football again? I just left a full ride.” But it all worked out!
HC: What is your favorite part about being a Bruin?
JK: My favorite part, I’m going to be so honest… is playing football. Can’t lie about that. It’s definitely my favorite. It’s where I pretty much go to when things aren’t going so well. Where I can just forget about what’s going on in my life and be in my own headspace. Another part would also be the connections that I’ve made with the people that are here.
HC: Why football? What keeps you going?
JK: This is one of the few things in my life where I go “Wow. This is something I was really supposed to do.” I first started playing when I was 11 years old. It was really tough at first because I wasn’t used to hitting. But early on in my life, I knew that football was something I really wanted to do. I feel like this is me personally serving God, and fulfilling His purpose for me. Got to glorify God for sure.
HC: What are your pre-game rituals?
JK: I got a ton! Pretty much I like to wake up and pray, read the verse of the day and some scripture and after, I just take a nap honestly. Then, I wake up and eat. I’m not a big “high energy” music person, so I like to listen to gospel, very laid back… good vibes type of music. For me, I can’t operate being so hyped. For my gloves, I always put on my left glove before my right and my left shoe before my right. Something that I’ve always done. I make sure to wear all of my bracelets. And there ya go!
HC: As a senior looking back, what is your most memorable moment here at UCLA?
JK: Man, this is a tough one. Definitely the locker room after we beat our rivals USC. That was honestly so special. Because I know how hard we worked and all the time and effort we put in. Even though our season didn’t go according to plan, we looked back and said, “Wow we really did that.” And from there we were ready to keep working.
HC: As a transfer yourself, what advice do you have for transfers coming into UCLA?
JK: Self-confidence, #1. For what it is, UCLA is a tough school. But you can do it and you can graduate. You’re going to have to work hard and apply to your schooling. Another thing is to make connections. Talk to people. Talk to the people in your class because you’ll never know who you’ll meet. Don’t try to fit in, most especially.
HC: Besides football, what are your other passions? What matters most to you?
JK: What matters most to me is God… can’t forget that. Another passion of mine is that I love film. I love film so much and want to be a screenwriter when I’m done playing football. I want to write scripts and already have some ideas too. Maybe even direct? We’ll see. I also love eating too. Huge passion.
HC: How’s the team preparing for your upcoming game against the Trojans?
JK: That game just really needs something. They’re a great team. We need the full eligibility (game wins), so we definitely have to prepare right, work hard and keep grinding. Keeping the main thing, the main thing, which is focusing on school first.
HC: What does female empowerment mean to you? What female role models do you have in your life and what do they mean to you?
JK: Female empowerment for me especially is extremely important. Growing up my mom was the main role model in my life along with all of my many aunties. So treating women with respect and understanding how much harder it is for women, was something that was taught to me at a very young age. Besides my mom and aunties, I look up to Beyoncé. She’s super huge in female empowerment and what it means to be a strong woman. Same with Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez and a bunch of other figures and movements going on right now. I’m for sure a huge advocate for female empowerment.
HC: What are the next steps for you after college?
JK: Lord willing, I hope I can play in the NFL. That’s something I would really love to do. And do more with God. Being in the real world, I’m not going to have my handheld for me anymore… and with that, I needed to move closer and get my faith stronger in Christ. Those are for sure the next challenges in my life.
HC: Besides your football legacy, what do you hope to leave behind at UCLA?
JK: Dang, this is a deep question. I just want people to understand that I’m a really compassionate, hardworking person. Sure football may seem like my “identity,” but at the end of the day, I want people to remember me for my generosity. I’ll just talk to people and be the person that wants to help and get to know you. I want people to see the way I carry myself and, without sounding cocky, want to be an example to others. Especially to athletes, people will wear football on their sleeve, but at the end of the day… you just got to be a person with good character. Because in the end, football has an expiration date. I just want people to remember me as a good person.