KNOXVILLE – Dozens of the top colleges from all over the nation wanted him, but Knoxville defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. decided that staying home was the best choice for him.
“I have officially committed to play football at the University of Tennessee #VFL,” Kelly tweeted early Sunday evening, wrapping up the recruitment of one of the top players in the nation.
A star player for Knoxville Webb high school, Kelly, who plays primarily safety, has been one of the hottest commodities in the nation for the last couple of years. Offers began rolling in early in his high school career and his offer list now consists of the elites of college football such as Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Georgia and Ohio State.
Tennessee not only had the hometown advantage, but also a strong family tie. Kelly’s father, Todd Kelly Sr., was a standout defensive end for the Vols in the early 1990s before moving on to a professional career that included stints with the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.
Kelly Jr. has been a regular visitor on UT’s campus and was in attendance Saturday when the Vols kicked off spring practice.
He became the second player to commit over the weekend, joining offensive lineman Coleman Thomas. Jones and the Vols now have three commitments for the class of 2014 – Thomas, Kelly and Nashville athlete Vic Wharton.
ESPN.com: ESPN300 Watch List
Rivals.com: 4-star, 59th best player in the nation
Scout.com: 4-star, 10th best safety in the nation
247Sports.com: 4-star, 75th best player in the nation; 7th best safety
247Sports.com Composite: 4-star, 110th best player in the nation, 9th best safety
How he fits: Tennessee has a pair of impressive young safeties in sophomores Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil, but Kelly is the type of player who will find a way to make an impact quickly after stepping on campus.
He will likely start as a situational player in 2014 who helps in various defensive back packages and on special teams before transitioning into the starting lineup in the next year or two after that.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga