Tennessee Vols defensive back Todd Kelly Jr came to Knoxville as a prized four-star in-state recruit with loads of potential.
Unfortunately for Kelly, and the Vols, injuries have robbed the Knoxville native of the ability to play at a high level in the SEC.
Kelly’s found his way into the lineup in recent weeks, due to injuries in Tennessee’s secondary, but it’s clear he doesn’t have the same speed he had before his knee problems.
But Kelly is still one of the smartest players on the field. According to safety Nigel Warrior, Kelly sees plays develop before anyone else.
Nigel Warrior on Todd Kelly Jr.’s impact in the secondary: “He sees things before me. He sees things before anyone and then lets people know.”
— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 6, 2018
Kelly could’ve easily skipped out on his final season of eligibility in 2018, after re-injuring his knee in a highly publicized incident with his girlfriend last winter.
The former Webb standout, however, never considered not returning in 2018. Kelly told reporters this week “It wasn’t a tough decision at all”, while adding “You speak about the program at the University of Tennessee. It’s my pride and joy. My blood runs orange.”
Kelly said another big reason he wanted to come back to Tennessee was to play for Jeremy Pruitt, because of his reputation as a great head coach.
I wanted to play for Coach Pruitt. He’s a great coach and a great defensive mind. You have seen all the things he’s done for us. We all believe in him and take pride in what he’s teaching us, and I wanted to have the experience for playing for him for one year.
Considering Kelly’s knowledge of the game, I think it would be great if he was able to stick around on Rocky Top next season as a graduate assistant on Pruitt’s staff.
It’s obvious that Kelly has a tremendous love for Tennessee. He also comes from a football family (his dad was a star at UT and played in the NFL) and he’s incredibly smart (he’s a biomedical engineering major). So I’m sure spending a couple more seasons on the sideline at Tennessee, while furthering his education, would strike Kelly as a great idea.
Having orange blood on the Vols’ coaching staff is always a plus. I can’t think of a better option to be a graduate assistant next season than Todd Kelly Jr.
Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports