UCLA senior running back Joshua Kelley leads the Bruins football team with 101 carries for 415 and three touchdowns so far this season. He’s a hard-working athlete who is slow to promote himself but quick to boast the talents of his teammates.
“I always let my teammates tell me when I’m doing good,” Kelley said. “I’m just like, “alright offensive line, you’re doing better,””
UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly noted how Kelley “oozes positivity,” and said that his hunger is his best quality. Kelley’s evaluation of himself is that he has good ball security and durability.
“I can handle a lot of carries, I like to describe myself as a hard, blue-collar type back,” Kelley said. “I’m gonna run hard, run through tackles.”
Growing up, Kelley became a UCLA fan; watching Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks, and Anthony Barr make the Bruins a contending team.
“They were so gifted, so talented,” Kelley said. “I remember just watching them just win a lot of games at the Rose Bowl, I was there for some of those games.”
Little did he know back then that he too would make history for the program. A highlight of his time at UCLA was his historic performance against the USC Trojans last season. Kelley ran the most yards of any Bruin or Trojan during the rivalry game with 289 rushing yards.
“That’s a huge rivalry game but I couldn’t do that without the offensive line, they were just moving people out,” Kelley said. “I think I’m so interchangeable in a way, I think that offensive line, those guys don’t get enough credit.”
That year he accumulated 1,243 rushing yards, the 10th highest single-season rushing yard total in the program’s history. Kelley was voted the program’s most valuable player, winning the Henry R. Red Sanders Award.
While being a gutsy rusher on field, Kelley put forward a tremendous effort in the classroom, earning a spot on the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll during the Fall 2018, Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters.
“That was actually pretty cool because being a student athlete can be challenging at times,” Kelley said. “I’m not just an athlete, I’m also a student and now I am an honor roll student, being at one of the top universities in the entire world, that’s cool.”
His favorite class is a Romanian course he took over the summer. From the class, Kelley can introduce himself in Romanian.
“We’re learning about Romanian culture and language,” he said. “So, I’m in there with a lot of my teammates and it’s so funny because we’re so bad at it … the teacher loves us.”
Kelley’s advice to young running backs is to work on their craft often and to seek out tips and critiques from coaches and pro players. Von Miller, Odell Beckham Jr., and Saquon Barkley have been known to train at UCLA, giving Kelley access to quintessential advice.
“Make sure that you always are doing something. Like if it’s after class, you want to go back on the field and get some footwork in,” Kelley said. “If you want to watch more film, you want to ask coach “what do you think that I can do better,” just consistently seek improvement.”