There are only a handful of players on the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers that are from Los Angeles, or the surrounding areas. For the Rams, there are four on the current roster; for the Chargers, there are three on the roster.
Los Angeles has a ton of talented players who are hungry for a chance to play professional ball, and there are a lot on NFL rosters.
The Rams are one of the teams known to target homegrown football players. They currently have wide receiver Robert Woods from Carson, defensive back David Long Jr. and center Coleman Shelton from Pasadena, and defensive tackle Greg Gaines from La Habra. Last season, they had Eric Weddle from the Inland Empire and Clay Matthews from the San Fernando Valley in addition to the current LA players. They’ve also have had defensive back Donte Deayon from Rialto on their practice squad for the last two seasons.
The Chargers don’t shy away from signing California natives either. They currently have cornerback Michael Davis from Glendale, running back Joshua Kelley from Lancaster, and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu from Carson.
There’s a different pride coming from Los Angeles and playing for the hometown team. Some players get the chance to play for the college they’ve always wanted to, like Rams’ Woods and Chargers’ Nwosu at USC and Chargers’ Kelley at UCLA. But they’ve all played for big Division-1 colleges.
“It’s amazing [to play in LA],” Kelley said in his introductory press conference after being selected by the Chargers in the draft. “I can’t really describe how I feel right now. Being with my family, playing at UCLA, and then getting a call from the head coach. That’s special. It’s almost like a dream come true to get to play local, a place where I’ve been around and kind of grew up in the area. For me, that’s humbling for sure, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Woods started his career at Junipero Serra in Gardena, about 10 miles from home, before going to USC for three years. He was then drafted by the Buffalo Bills and signed a five-year deal with the Rams in 2017 after his fourth season. Entering his third season with the Rams, the 28-year-old just continues to get better. After the departure of Brandin Cooks via a trade to Houston, Woods is the main man alongside fellow receiver Cooper Kupp.
Long, Jr. grew up in Pasadena and had the chance to elevate his game while at Loyola High in downtown Los Angeles. While at Loyola, Long was a four-star recruit and committed to play at Michigan where he spent three seasons. The 22-year-old came back home after being selected by the Rams in 2019 and has been working hard to get some playing time on the Rams’ defense. Long is a solid defensive back and will hopefully find his role at cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey this season.
Shelton also grew up in Pasadena and played for Loyola High before going to Washington for four seasons. Despite going undrafted in 2018, he found himself on the Titans and Cardinals before coming home to play for the Rams. He is currently the third-string center behind starter Austin Blythe and backup Brian Allen, but in due time, he can find a role on the offensive line.
Gaines is a native of Orange County and attended La Habra High where he was a top-50 recruit in the state and a top-50 defensive tackle recruit in the country. Those honors got him to Washington where he played for four seasons with the Huskies. Like Long, the 24-year-old was drafted by his hometown team in 2019. Gaines currently sits as the backup nose tackle behind Sebastian Joseph-Day.
Davis has been a Charger since day one. He started his career at Glendale High, went to Brigham Young University for four years, and signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Despite being cut and added from the practice squad for the last three seasons, the Chargers have kept him around, and he’s currently sitting as the backup for cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
Kelley was born in Inglewood and raised in Lancaster. He attended Eastside High before spending two seasons at UC Davis and then transferring to UCLA to play two seasons. Despite only being in a Bruins jersey for two seasons, he had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The 22-year-old was drafted by the hometown Chargers this offseason and is entering his rookie season as the backup for Austin Ekeler, unless Justin Jackson is healthy for the season.
Nwosu is a native of Carson and attended Narbonne High before going to USC for four years and was then drafted by the Chargers in the second round of the 2018 draft. He currently sits as the backup defensive end behind Melvin Ingram.
Sometimes, there are players that just haven’t got their chance to show their worth.
That goes for the honorable mention –– Donte Deayon. He is a Rialto native who went to Summit High in Fontana before playing college football at Boise State for four seasons. Despite going undrafted in 2016, he signed with the New York Giants and spent two seasons on and off with the team before joining the Rams, where he’s been on and off for the last two seasons. After watching him on HBO’s Hard Knocks, he quickly became a fan favorite with Rams fans. Despite being cut from the active roster, he has a chance to stay on with the practice squad.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 22, 2020
Being from Los Angeles and playing for your hometown crowd is different than playing for a crowd somewhere else. There’s much more pride and much more effort put into your game.
The Rams and the Chargers start their season on Sunday, September 13 with the Chargers in Cincinnati and the Rams hosting the Cowboys.