Kalel Mullings, MBA student

Kalel Mullings, BBA '24

All Business On and Off the Field

Kalel Mullings, BBA ‘24, grew up with a love of football. He started playing at six years old, and since then, it's been his dream to play in the National Football League.  

In addition to making an impact on the field, Kalel also aspires to one day make a difference in communities and public housing neighborhoods across the country. While football brought him to the University of Michigan, his interest in real estate development led him to the Ross School of Business Bachelor of Business Administration Program

Choosing U-M and Michigan Ross 

“I’ve always loved math and economics and the idea of creating something from the ground up,” Kalel said. “A lot of the lessons that I’ve learned through football and athletics are really applicable to starting and growing businesses, and that’s where the connection started for me.”

While attending Milton Academy in Massachusetts, Kalel was recruited by a number of colleges, including some of the most prestigious in the country. But Kalel knew that he wanted to attend a university that valued academics as much as athletics.

Playing football has conditioned him to work hard, and he brings that same drive to his studies, something he credits both of his parents for instilling in him.

“My dad played football and is the athletics-focused one, and my mom is the academic-focused one. So I’ve always had that balance in my life,” he said.  

Through the recruitment process, Kalel discovered that U-M offered him the best of both worlds.  

“It is really easy to see when a school cares about its academic and athletic presence, and this whole university is clearly dedicated to both. That dedication sold me, and getting into Michigan Ross was the cherry on top.”

Drawing parallels between business and football

At first glance, football and business may not seem to have many similarities; however, both are high-stakes environments that demand strategy, collaboration, strong leadership, and flawless execution to succeed — qualities that Kalel has been able to transfer from the field to the classroom and vice versa.

“Football and business are actually very similar; it's just that one is a physical application, and one is a mental application,” Kalel said. “Both involve figuring out the best way to communicate and working in cohesion to achieve our goals.”

Photo of Kalel Mullings wearing a University of Michigan uniform running with the football on the field
Photo credit: Brad Muckenthaler - Maize & Blue Nation


Throughout his time at U-M, Kalel has been a true student of the game, playing multiple positions and learning multiple playbooks, in addition to what he’s learning in the classroom. Managing the demanding schedule of a student-athlete has been challenging, but Kalel has learned how to maximize every minute he has.

“If I can get 30 minutes of work done in between classes, then that’s 30 minutes of hard work that I won’t have to worry about later,” he said. “That gives me some peace of mind and is definitely the best way I’ve found to be able to handle such rigorous schedules.”

Finding support at Ross

Being part of a team is nothing new to Kalel, but he’s been amazed by the understanding and supportive community he’s found at Ross. A community that he says is as equally focused and driven as his Wolverine teammates, and who bring diverse ideas and opinions that have helped him see things from a new perspective.  

“The biggest way Ross has supported me is just by being a community, by being itself,” Kalel said. “As athletes, we spend a lot of our time chasing one goal, and it’s been nice to have another community beyond football that is as focused and invested in the future.”

Kalel feels that throughout his time at Ross, he’s developed a better understanding of what he wants and how to go after it. And what he wants is to make an impact, whether that’s for a professional football team, in real estate development, or perhaps both. But whichever path his career takes, Kalel feels that Ross has prepared him for success.

The Ross community is competitive and friendly at the same time, and being a part of it has been a priceless and positive experience. 

Going out on top

Kalel was all business on this year’s national championship-winning team, capping off his U-M football career with the ultimate victory and cementing his place in the rich athletic tradition that attracted him to the school four years ago. The Wolverines bested the No. 2-ranked Washington Huskies, 34-13, to capture the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship in Houston, Texas — a win that completed an undefeated 15-0 season.

“Winning the National Championship was a culmination of the past couple of years,” Kalel said. “All of the blood, sweat, and tears, everything that we talked about doing and everything that we said we wanted, we actually did it. Nothing beats that feeling.”