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By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Chargers believe in running back Joshua Kelley


January 5, 2023

George Laase

Charger running back Joshua Kelley scores a touchdown during a recent game at SoFi Stadium.

Sometimes the road to the top of your profession can be a mysterious journey that will test your internal fortitude. Sometimes a strong belief in yourself and a strong belief that your employer has in you can help you finish that journey to the top. That's what has happened to Charger running back, Joshua Kelley.

"It feels good," said Kelley, during an interview after a recent game at SoFi Stadium. "This year has been a really big year in terms of me being more confident and being myself out there on the field. It is good to be out there just being able to contribute."

During Kelley's first two years with the Chargers, the 2020 fourth round draft pick out of UCLA was marked by inconsistent play due to injuries and other factors, but this season Kelley looks like a new man. The new-look Kelley says his biggest motivation comes from his belief in himself and the belief the Chargers have in him.

"Honestly it just instills more confidence inside of me," said Kelley who has a smile that can light up a room. "It's like, wow, those guys really believe in my ability. It makes me feel like, yeah, let's get going man. I can't take all of the credit for getting better. The offensive line and the coaches, they all do a great job."

Kelley's rise to the top of his profession started when he was a running back at UC Davis. He transferred to UCLA after two years at UC Davis and when he arrived on the Westwood campus, he was the fifth string running back. In one year, he became a starter and one of the best running backs in the nation. After two years at UCLA, he was drafted by the Chargers.

"I feel like the biggest thing is self-belief. That's the biggest thing," said Kelley. "When I was at Davis, I felt like I could play Division 1 football. You have to believe in yourself and believe in the process. Hard work and preparation does not guarantee success but it will guarantee growth. I encourage kids not to give up. I learned all of this through my faith in God. That's the biggest thing. God put a lot of mentors around me and they told me to keep going forward."

Now, the 5'11 212 pound Kelley is a solid back up to one of the best dual-threat running back in the NFL, Austin Ekeler. Both players are dual threats out of the backfield and Kelley also plays on special teams. His team is headed to the playoffs for the first time in his career. "If we can control the game on the ground, whether it's running, catching passes or protecting the quarterback. It does wonders for our offense."


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