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WATCH: Josiah Norwood on First TD, Earning Scholarship From UCLA

The former walk-on quarterback capped off the Bruins' win over Bowling Green with a 50-yard touchdown reception at the Rose Bowl.
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UCLA football receiver Josiah Norwood spoke to reporters following Monday morning’s practice session. Norwood talked about scoring his first career touchdown Saturday against Bowling Green, what it meant to go on scholarship last week, the importance of walk-ons to the Bruins’ culture and how he plans to make up for the lost production of Kyle Philips, Greg Dulcich and Chase Cota this season. 

Take us through that touchdown?

Oh, the touchdown. Yeah, that was a really cool moment for me. It was funny too because that morning, one of my friends had texted me, Jerry, and he told me "You're gonna score today." Super random, and it just happened to be that time. Sykesy gave me a great block, Garbers a great throw, like everything just came together really well. And I think that's just a testament to how our team works a lot this year too, just everyone coming together and just putting it all together for one play and it worked out. It was a really awesome moment for me, definitely.

Who was the friend?

Jerry, he was my best friend from high school and he texted me.

Goes to UCLA?

He goes to USC, actually. Yeah, rival. But he's got love for me. So he let me know for sure before, and it was funny too cause the only other time he texted me too was before was Utah last year when I dropped a touchdown. So I had to live that down this whole offseason, and it was good to have his back in the first game, definitely.

He said you were going to score that day too?

Yeah, so that's why it was kinda funny, both days, I just had a feeling, but he's awesome, yeah.

What did it mean to have that moment in year five after the position switch?

I mean, yeah, it was really awesome just to see all the hard work pay off. I mean, with all my coaches here and I mean, just everyone, I can't even take credit for that fully because there's so many people that have been involved in that. i've had coaches, just making the transition from quarterback – that's Steve Calhoun, Dylan Bradley – I had a bunch of coaches that just helped me through this transition, getting to this moment. And obviously coach Kelly and Jerry have always been big believers in me. That's always important for me, just going out there knowing that my coaches have my back and have been believing in me this whole time. So it was awesome just to see it go through.

Of the guys you've been roommates with, how many have gotten scholarships?

So it was me, Alex and Greg, the others actually medically retired and some just graduated and don’t play anymore, but us three guys, it was just awesome—it kind of felt like we got it for everybody, honestly. It was a good moment. We all work hard. All the walk-ons just work so hard—Ashton, Chase--like, everyone has a great role here, so it’s just awesome to see some of us get paid off [?] and I’m sure there’s more coming, obviously, because there’s a lot of hard workers, a lot of great walk-ons that we have here, so it’s cool.

Stepping up without Kyle and Greg?

Yeah, obviously we lost a lot of our receptions last year and Jerry actually challenged us this off-season, the first thing he put up on the board was, the receptions are the same, these [players] are gone, so everyone that’s here, we all have a chance to get some receptions and a chance to help our team, help our quarterbacks out, and I think we’ve done that. I mean, I think our receiver room is very deep, a lot of just great athletes in there and a lot of guys that want to see other people succeed. I mean, after I scored a touchdown, Kam Brown was one of the first people that came up to me—he wasn’t even playing and he came up to me, was so happy for me, the same for Michael Churich. They’re both just really happy for me and I think that camaraderie, all of us together, we have a really tight team this season, we’ve done a lot of team bonding things and I think this is one of the closest teams I’ve been a part of, which is awesome.

Scholarship and touchdown give you confidence in practice today?

Um, I mean, I like to think I’m pretty confident in myself at all times, I mean, things happen throughout practice and the game, like, you’ll have a bad play here and there, but coach Kelly always challenges us to compete with yourself, so my challenge every day is going out there and getting 1% better—we always talk about getting 1% better, so going out there, getting 1% better every day, even in the weight room with coach Diamond, they push us every day to get 1% better, even like we have a new—he’s our food guy and he helps us too, he put me on brie cheese. I never had it before but it’s been helping me out with like antioxidants or something, I don’t know. That’s just our goal every day—train, fuel, recover, 1% every day, that’s been the goal.


Yeah. Brie.

Good for you?

I guess so, that’s what he put me on, so that’s one of the things that I’ve been doing. You’d have to talk to him about it, I’m not super clear on all the stuff like that, but he’s been great, I mean, they’ve all been great with hydration and everything, I don’t know if you saw at the game we had like tents with fans going, they were really on top of their stuff with hydration and keeping us good for that game so no one really had cramps or anything, so that was awesome.

Dulcich drafted, Fernea on Colts' practice squad, guys getting scholarships last week – how important is walk-on culture to UCLA culture?

I think it’s very important because one thing about coach Kelly, I think he treats walk-ons here a little bit different than other schools. Usually, you go to another school and you don’t hear too much about their walk-ons and stuff, but that was one of the first things he told me when I wanted to come here is, I’m going to give you a chance to come in here and compete and I think that that motivation that he gives us feeds into the way that we play and we practice and like I said, everyone has a role here and you see a lot of walk-ons come through here and get scholarships and just become greater here just because we got an opportunity and getting those live reps, going in there and just competing, I mean, at the end of the day we’re all just a team, you know? It’s hard to tell. Like, if you ask some of the transfers, they don’t really know who is on scholarship and who is a walk-on because everyone gets treated the same and we just try to keep it that way just being a team together and stuff.

Significance of playing an HBCU?

I think for us, our main priority every week is, we take every opponent the same and go into every game like we see everybody as the same team, like even if we’re playing Alabama or we’re playing an HBCU team, I think we all prepare to be our best version of ourselves and I think that’s the goal this whole season. Coach Kelly said after the game that he hoped that last game was our worst game because every game we want to keep improving obviously and just get better every game, so I think that’s the main goal, just stay true to the path that we’re on and keep getting better every week and just look at every opponent the same because who knows what could happen. I mean, every team’s a team, we all play football and we have as much respect for anyone that we play, so that’s [inaudible].

Look around at an empty Rose Bowl?

Um, I didn’t really see too much. I mean, we don’t really pay too much attention to that. I mean, obviously it was a hot day outside, so it’s tough being out there. My parents had to sit in a little booth up in the top, luckily Michael’s parents helped them out and I know I know it’s a hot game and stuff. We love our fans, we obviously want them to be there, we respect all of them that are out there in the heat, too. I know being out there with pads is tough but being out there sitting in the heat, I just know had to be tough for them, so I’m sure our fans will come around and give us the support that we want and any support from them is everything that we want too, I mean, it was great.

Graduate in the spring?

I extended my graduation to the fall. I’m an Econ major, so some of the classes don’t exactly match up, so some of the classes I have to take are in the mornings when we have practice and we can’t do that because of practice, so I extended mine to the fall, so I’m planning to graduate in the fall.

Graduate school after?

It’s definitely an option, yeah. I have one more year of eligibility, so we’ll see how this year goes and I’m definitely looking into it potentially, yeah.

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