"The hardest part is that you realize there is no real game coming up to work for other than the spring game. You're getting beat up and guys are getting hurt, but it's necessary for the young guys who've not got a lot of playing time so they can continue to get better and be ready for the camp."
While there is no shortage of scholarship players around him, Kelce didn't always have the joys that come with being a fully scholarship student athlete.
"No I didn't. I came in as a walk-on and had to earn my way. I think it made me a better player and a better person as a result of that. When I was in high school I had a lot of God given abilities and didn't have to work as hard to have success. Once I got here I learned you have to work for everything every day as nothing is going to be given to you."
While the native of Cleveland, Ohio has two seasons remaining, he knows the coaching staff is looking for guys to step up and take a leadership role after the loss of so many top players from last years team. Three of the most established players on the offense play offensive line positions.
"The three of us are the most veteran guys on the offensive unit right now along with Mardy Gilyard, Tony Pike and Kazeem Alli. There really striving to have Chris Jurek, Jeff Linkenbach and I take major leadership roles up front."
One thing Kelce has learned is being an offensive lineman is not just being a big body. At only 6-foot-3, 295-pounds has Kelce in line with his weight, but there are bigger bodies out there in college football.
"The offensive line is ten times harder than it is to play linebacker. Linebacker, as long as you're athletic and you have a good tough mentality you're going to be a good linebacker. You don't have to think that much as it's more reaction. Offensive line you're constantly thinking and you've got to be smart to play offensive line not just be big. Anyone who plays offensive line at a high level is not just a big body, but a very intelligent person as well."
One person Kelce has had the chance to learn from is Jeff Linkenbach. Kelce knows because of the Bearcats left tackle his game has improved as well.
"There is no question that Jeff has changed who he is physically, but he's also mentally ahead of everyone else on the team as far as I'm concerned. Playing next to him has completely changed the way I look at the game as I watch how he reacts to things. He's made me a much better player and I'm trying to pass on to the younger guys what he's passed on to me."
As for a surprise along the battle at the offensive line position, Kelce feels fans should keep an eye out at how well some of the younger players are doing.
"Randy Martinez is having a great spring and showing people he's ready to play college football as a key back-up if not a starter. C.J. Cobb at the start of spring ball had a little gimp with his knee but you can tell he's starting to be able to bend his knee and is getting his power back. Alex Hoffman's strength is his mind as he's a lot like Linkenbach. Alex has come a very long way very fast."
This is Part One of a two part story.