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Joshua Kelley

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Joshua Kelley
refer to caption
Kelley with the UCLA Bruins in 2019
Personal information
Born: (1997-11-20) November 20, 1997 (age 26)
Inglewood, California, U.S.
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
High school:Eastside (Lancaster, California)
Position:Running back
NFL draft:2020 / Round: 4 / Pick: 112
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2023
Rushing yards:1,148
Rushing average:3.6
Rushing touchdowns:6
Receiving yards:319
Player stats at PFR

Joshua Tyler Kelley (born November 20, 1997)[1] is an American football running back who is a free agent. He began his college football career with the UC Davis Aggies before transferring to the UCLA Bruins program. Kelley rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons with the Bruins, earning second-team all-conference honors in the Pac-12 in 2019. He was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Early life[edit]

Kelley was born in Inglewood, California.[2][1] His mother Jacqueline, a speech pathologist at an elementary school,[3] raised him and his older brother Daniel as a single parent.[4] Growing up in Lancaster in Los Angeles County, Kelley was a fan of UCLA.[5] His mother volunteered at the University of California, Los Angeles, and he had an aunt and uncle who studied there; his uncle played on the Bruins baseball team.[6]

Kelley attended Eastside High School and rushed for 1,903 yards and 22 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Lions.[7] As a senior, he earned first-team all-conference honors in the Golden League, and was named the conference's running back of the year.[6]

College career[edit]

A two-star recruit who was ranked the No. 232 running back in the class of 2015,[3] Kelley began his career in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) at the University of California, Davis,[8] the only school that pursued him.[7] With the Aggies, he coped with injuries and shared time with another fine back in Manusomo Luuga. In his first season, Kelley was a year younger than his fellow freshmen.[1] He did not receive a full scholarship until the start of his sophomore year, but relinquished it and transferred after the season, when head coach Ron Gould and the rest of the coaching staff were fired.[3][7][8] Although the new staff wanted him to stay, Kelley challenged himself to reach college football's highest level.[4] He ended his UC Davis career with 1,139 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons.[8] As part of his release from the school, Kelley was permitted to transfer to just two schools in California: UCLA and USC. He also received interest from Boise State.[6]

Kelley signed as a walk-on with the Bruins of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), and served on the scout team in 2017 while sitting out the year as a redshirt due to transfer rules.[6][8][9] Leading up to the 2018 season, he encountered another coaching change when UCLA replaced Jim L. Mora with Chip Kelly. The new coach awarded a scholarship to Kelley.[8] A redshirt junior,[10] Kelley did not play much until Week 4 at Colorado.[11] He was benched and did not play a week earlier against Fresno State after being outperformed during practice. In the first two weeks, he had just 11 carries for 27 yards.[1][12] Following an open week in UCLA's schedule, he regrouped and ran for 124 yards in 12 carries against Colorado after being the team's best player in training sessions leading up to the game.[12][13] Kelley became one of the nation's top running backs over the final two months of the season.[11] He emerged as the Bruins' top offensive player with six 100-yard games,[10] and UCLA's scoring increased as well.[14] On the road in Week 6 against California, UCLA earned their first win of the season as Kelley ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns in a 37–7 victory.[15] Against USC, Kelley had a career-high 289 yards rushing on 40 carries to help the Bruins earn their first win in four years in their crosstown rivalry with the Trojans. It was the most rushing yards for a player on either team in the history of the rivalry.[16][17] He scored two touchdowns, including one on a career-long 61-yard run.[8]

Kelley ended the season with 1,243 yards rushing, the 10th-highest single-season total in UCLA history,[8] and his 113 rushing yards per game ranked fourth-highest in the Pac-12 Conference and ninth in the nation.[3][18][19] He ran for at least one touchdown in each of the final eight games,[19] and finished with 12 touchdowns to rank second in the conference.[8] Kelley earned honorable mention in All-Pac-12 voting by conference coaches,[20] while the Associated Press named him to their first team. He was named the Bruins' most valuable player.[19]

In 2019, Kelley returned for his senior year after deciding against entering the NFL Draft.[21] He injured his right knee in practice,[22] and subsequently missed most of training camp. He did not play in the season opener against Cincinnati.[23] On October 26 against Arizona State, Kelley ran 34 times for 164 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a 42–32 upset over the No. 24 Sun Devils.[24] He rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns the following week against Colorado, helping the Bruins earn their fourth win and surpass their total from a year before.[25] In the final game of his college career, Kelley ran for 76 yards against Cal to finish the season with 1,060 yards, becoming the eighth player in UCLA history to run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.[26][27] His 96.4 yards rushing per game and 12 rushing touchdowns were both second in the conference behind Zack Moss of Utah. Kelley was named second-team All-Pac-12, the only Bruin to be named to either the first or second team.[27] He ended his UCLA career with 454 rushes for 2,303 yards and 24 touchdowns.[28] After being named to the Senior Bowl roster as a replacement for Moss,[29] he improved his draft stock with a game-high 105 yards on 15 carries.[30][31]

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
5 ft 10+58 in
(1.79 m)
212 lb
(96 kg)
31+58 in
(0.80 m)
9+58 in
(0.24 m)
4.49 s 1.61 s 2.65 s 4.28 s 6.95 s 31.0 in
(0.79 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
23 reps
All values from NFL Combine[32][33]

Kelley was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 112th overall pick.[34] He competed with Justin Jackson to be the backup behind Chargers featured back Austin Ekeler.[35] In his NFL debut in the 2020 season opener, Kelley had 60 rushing yards on 12 carries and scored the team's only touchdown on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter in a 16–13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.[36] He again ran for over 60 yards the following week,[37] when he had 113 yards from scrimmage (64 rushing, 49 receiving) in a loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.[38] However, he struggled after fumbling in consecutive weeks in close games against the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which damaged his confidence and led to a drop in playing time.[37][39]

In the 2021 season opener, Kelley was listed as inactive, as rookie Larry Rountree III received the nod as the No. 3 running back.[40] Kelley played in 10 games during the season, finishing with 33 carries for 102 yards along with five receptions for 38 yards.[41]

In 2022, he entered training camp stronger after dedicating himself to improving physically during the offseason.[42] He began the season playing behind Sony Michel, who was Ekeler's primary backup. In a Week 5 win over the Cleveland Browns, Kelley had 12 touches to Michel's one, running for 49 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and adding two catches for 33 yards.[43][44] He suffered an MCL sprain in Week 6 and was placed on injured reserve on October 22, 2022.[45] He was activated on November 26.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Kelley is a Christian.[47] He is married to Mikaela Kelley.[48][49]


  1. ^ a b c d FitzGerald, Tom (November 21, 2018). "Stanford's Ron Gould knew UCLA's Joshua Kelley 'was going to be a special player'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Joshua Kelley". UCLABruins.com. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Fortuna, Matt (July 26, 2019). "How Joshua Kelley bet on himself and beat the odds for stardom at UCLA". The Athletic. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Bolch, Ben (August 21, 2018). "Joshua Kelley's persistence could be his calling card at UCLA". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Fischer, Bryan (November 17, 2018). "Chip Kelly gets first Victory Bell as UCLA beats USC, warms up Clay Helton's hot seat in the process". College Football Talk. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Nguyen, Thuc Nhi (November 13, 2018). "Joshua Kelley says choosing UCLA over USC was easy". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Golden, Brian (November 24, 2018). "Kelley showing nation, UCLA his many talents". Antelope Valley Press. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Jensen, Merisa (July 26, 2019). "Kelley on the Rise". Antelope Valley Press. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  9. ^ Whicker, Mark (July 24, 2019). "Joshua Kelley is back at UCLA to follow his own tough act". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Battle of the Backs: Stanford's Love faces UCLA's Kelley". USA Today. AP. November 23, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Howell, Brian (July 8, 2019). "CU Buffs football opponent preview: UCLA's rebuild under Chip Kelly continues". The Denver Post. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Richardson, Blake (October 6, 2018). "Kelley establishing himself as UCLA's go-to running back". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Nguyen, Thuc Nhi (November 17, 2018). "UCLA notebook: Joshua Kelley sets rivalry game record in UCLA win over USC". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  14. ^ Connelly, Bill (July 24, 2019). "Pac-12 preview: Washington vs. Oregon, the USC enigma and more". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  15. ^ "Chip Kelly gets 1st win at UCLA, 37–7 over California". USA Today. AP. October 13, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Nguyen, Thuc Nhi (November 18, 2018). "What's next for UCLA football? The Stanford Cardinal". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 15, 2019. The UC Davis transfer set a record for rushing yards for any player in the 88-year history of the crosstown rivalry.
  17. ^ Richardson, Blake (November 17, 2018). "UCLA's Joshua Kelley enjoys record-setting performance vs. USC". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "Rushing Yards Per Game". NCAA.com. Archived from the original on August 12, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Bolch, Ben (January 15, 2019). "Joshua Kelley returning to UCLA for 2019, won't declare for NFL draft". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  20. ^ Bolch, Ben (December 4, 2018). "UCLA's Caleb Wilson and Adarius Pickett are All-Pac-12 selections". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Sondheimer, Eric (March 16, 2019). "Joshua Kelley's return gives UCLA a reason to be optimistic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Nguyen, Thuc Nhi (August 4, 2019). "UCLA RB Joshua Kelley 'day-to-day' with knee injury". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  23. ^ Bolch, Ben (August 29, 2019). "UCLA stumbles out of the gate in loss to Cincinnati". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  24. ^ Bolch, Ben (October 26, 2019). "Joshua Kelley has a field day as UCLA upsets No. 24 Arizona State". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  25. ^ Bolch, Ben (November 2, 2019). "UCLA rolls to victory over Colorado, extends its winning streak to three". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  26. ^ Bolch, Ben (December 1, 2019). "UCLA's dreary season ends with a whimper in loss to California". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Bolch, Ben (December 10, 2019). "Joshua Kelley is UCLA's only member of All-Pac-12 first or second teams". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  28. ^ Williams, James H. (September 8, 2020). "UCLA's Joshua Kelley, Darnay Holmes and Devin Asiasi named to 53-man NFL rosters". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  29. ^ Allen, Trevor (January 13, 2020). "Utah RB Zack Moss Will Not Play In Senior Bowl". KSL Sports. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  30. ^ Wojton, Nick (January 28, 2020). "Who could the Bills target from Draft Wire's All-Senior Bowl team?". USA Today. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  31. ^ Klein, Gary (February 26, 2020). "UCLA's Joshua Kelley was inspired by a visit to Rams camp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  32. ^ "Joshua Kelley Combine Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  33. ^ "2020 Draft Scout Joshua Kelley, UCLA NFL Draft Scout College Football Profile". draftscout.com. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  34. ^ "Chargers Select RB Joshua Kelley in Fourth Round". Chargers.com. April 25, 2020. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  35. ^ Borquez, Gavino (September 3, 2020). "Chargers RB Austin Ekeler praises Joshua Kelley, talks Justin Jackson's injury". USA Today. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  36. ^ Miller, Jeff (September 13, 2020). "Something amiss on Chargers' offense, but Bengals miss big kick and fall 16-13". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  37. ^ a b Morgan, Emmanuel (November 10, 2020). "Chargers' Josh Kelley struggling a bit with his confidence". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  38. ^ "Chargers' Herbert Gets 2nd Start vs. Winless Panthers". NBCSanDiego.com. The Associated Press. September 24, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  39. ^ Beller, Michael (December 22, 2020). "32 breakout player picks for 2021 fantasy football from our team of NFL beat writers". The Athletic. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Kelley stopped running with as much confidence, and his inefficiency led to a decrease in touches.
  40. ^ Miller, Jeff (September 12, 2021). "Austin Ekeler active; full list of inactive Chargers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  41. ^ Elliott, Helene (July 30, 2022). "Chargers are on shaky ground game with only Austin Ekeler to count on". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  42. ^ Miller, Jeff (August 11, 2022). "Bulked-up Joshua Kelley in the running for Chargers' heavily contested backup role". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  43. ^ Borquez, Gorvino (October 10, 2022). "Joshua Kelley coming on strong as Chargers' second running back". USA Today. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  44. ^ Miller, Jeff (October 10, 2022). "Week 5 takeaways: Suddenly Chargers can run as Austin Ekeler sets career high". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  45. ^ "Los Angeles Chargers Sign Michael Bandy to Active Roster; Place Joshua Kelley on Injured Reserve". Chargers.com. October 22, 2022.
  46. ^ "Los Angeles Chargers Activate Running Back Joshua Kelley". Chargers.com. November 26, 2022.
  47. ^ Mercer, Kevin. "Chargers RB Joshua Kelley gets baptized by team chaplain: 'Jesus is Lord!'". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  48. ^ Buehring, Tom (October 5, 2023). "LA Chargers' Friendship with Jesus is #1". CBN. Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  49. ^ "joshua_kelley_". Instagram. Retrieved January 20, 2023.

External links[edit]