August 12, 2010

Kelly preps for strong senior season

West Chester (OH) offensive lineman Ryan Kelly surprised many Alabama fans recently when he committed to the Crimson Tide with very little advanced warning. Kelly, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound center, has been relatively under the radar of most Tide recruiting fans but has wowed scouts and coaches from around the country with his strength and versatility and is currently in the midst of preparations for his senior season at Lakota West High School.

"We started our two-a-days last week and we've already had our first team scrimmage so we're deep into camp now," Kelly said. "We play our first game on August 28th so the season is just right around the corner now."

Kelly said the events that led to his recruitment by the Crimson Tide began with the recruitment of his former teammate, University of Texas star Jordan Hicks.

"When Alabama was recruiting Jordan, Coach Sal (Sunseri) was his recruiter and he came up here to watch him. While he was here, he also got a chance to see me play and I think he was impressed with what he saw. Our relationship started to build from there. I have visited Tuscaloosa three times and I absolutely loved it every time I went."

"Coach Pendry eventually got a chance to come up and watch me in person and he was the guy that I think ultimately helped Alabama make the decision to offer me a scholarship."

"Alabama is so unique. They truly treat football differently down there. In Ohio, we have so many other teams that everyone is always focused on in all different sports but in Alabama it's all about Alabama and Auburn. I love that college football is the king in that state and I also just feel like I fit in there. I'm really a country boy at heart."

Kelly's commitment came just before the commitment of another key Ohio star, a player who Kelly has come to know in his time as a recruit.

"When I was there for one of my visits I got a chance to meet Trey DePriest. We started talking after that and we both really had a lot of the same thoughts about Alabama. I wasn't surprised at all when I found out he committed."

"It's been kind of interesting to see folks around here react. When all this recruiting stuff started for me, I wasn't really expecting to hear from any SEC schools. I thought I'd be maybe recruited by the Big Ten and Big East schools like most other guys from my area. I think Trey and I both like right now, the best college football in the country is being played in the SEC. Most people around this part of the country don't quite see it that way yet."

While Kelly serves primarily as a center for his high school team, he situational experience playing guard and tackle as well. Kelly sees this versatility of experience as a key that could serve him well in the future working with the Tide offensive line unit.

"Coach Pendry knows that I have some versatility, which I think helped me a lot in getting an offer from Alabama. I think they are going to try me at center first but I don't think they'll be afraid to try me at guard or even tackle. They like having guys that can play multiple different spots on the line."

Kelly said he remains solidly committed to the Tide and plans on taking his official visit to Tuscaloosa after the season has finished.

"The Alabama coaches told me I was welcome to come to any games but that it would probably be best if I waited until after the season to take my official visits since the coaches don't have much time to sit down and talk on a game day."

"Right now I plan on going to the Penn State and Auburn games. I am really looking forward to seeing an Iron Bowl in person and experiencing what people always say is one of the greatest rivalries in sports."

Kelly is rated by Rivals.com as the No. 6 center prospect in the nation.

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