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Senior signoff: From walk-on to found family, Josiah Norwood appreciates UCLA football journey

Redshirt senior wide receiver Josiah Norwood runs with the ball. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Josiah Norwood

June 10, 2024 4:08 p.m.

Wow… I can hardly believe it’s time to say goodbye. As I sit down to write this, my heart is full of gratitude and nostalgia. UCLA has been my home for the past few years and leaving feels incredibly bittersweet.

When I first arrived on the campus, I was just a wide-eyed, 17-year-old kid with a big dream. Joining the football team as a walk-on was both thrilling and terrifying. Those early days were tough. I was knocked down more times than I can count, doubted myself a few too many times along the way, and pushed my limits in ways I never thought I could. But with each hurdle, I found strength.

The day I earned my scholarship was like a dream come true. It wasn’t just about the money; it was about proving to myself that I could do it, that hard work and perseverance really do pay off. It was also a testament to the support from my family, coaches and teammates.

But as much as I loved football, there was always that pesky question in the back of my – and my mom’s – mind: What would come next? And for the longest time, the answer my mom hated but always got was the classic, “Yeah, I’m still thinking about it.” There were no thoughts yet.

I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this, but UCLA was one of the first places where I genuinely enjoyed learning. Sorry SAT prep, but you did not make the cut. For somebody who struggled to figure out a passion outside of athletics, I discovered a love for subjects like finance, marketing, business and real estate.

My professors, their course materials and my intelligent peers all pushed me to excel. I constantly felt the urge to think deeper, reach further and open my eyes to new possibilities. This played a huge role in my intellectual growth.

But honestly, what I’ll miss most about UCLA is the people. My teammates, better remembered as brothers, share a bond here that I know will last a lifetime. There’s something about those sweaty 12-hour fall camp days, that historic 32-point comeback at Washington State. And, oh yeah, putting up 62 and 38 on those boys across town, at their crib, that just might be a bit hard to forget.

And for the people I knew outside of athletics… again, truly some of the best people I have met in my life. Whether it was bodysurfing in Malibu at the peak of sunset, finding the best vodka sauce pasta in the city or falling asleep on the couch during a movie marathon, they showed me there was more to college than just the grind.

As I get ready to move on to the next chapter of my life, I carry with me the lessons learned and the memories made from my time at UCLA. This place has not only educated me, but also shaped me into a resilient, passionate and driven individual. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, UCLA, for being my home, my inspiration and my family. I’m forever proud and grateful to be a Bruin.

Norwood played for UCLA football from 2018-2023.

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