Despite ties to the SEC, Todd Kelly Jr. is intent on being open-minded in his recruitment. That's good news for Duke after the ESPN Watch List safety from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb School visited last week.
"It was good," Kelly said of the visit. "They got killed, but other than that I enjoyed it."
Duke lost to Clemson 56-20 on Saturday. On Sunday, Kelly downplayed his connections to the SEC when asked how strong conference affiliation will play into his decision. His sister is a sophomore cheerleader at Alabama. His father, Todd Kelly, was a standout defensive end for Tennessee in the early 1990s.
"It's not a factor for me," the 6-foot, 190-pound junior said of choosing a school based on a conference. "I'm just trying to find the school that best fits me as a student and a football player. Everyone knows the SEC is one of the strongest conferences in the country, but the ACC is up there, too."
Duke has certainly shown signs of improvement in its football program. Duke is bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994 with a 6-4 record. However, it seems unlikely the Blue Devils will be perennial championship contenders given their academic standards and competition in the ACC. That doesn't bother Kelly.
"I mean, everybody wants to win championships, but that shouldn't be the only determining factor in choosing a school," he said.
Clearly, the most significant aspect of the visit was the school. That could be a good fit for Kelly. Webb School is a prestigious private school in Knoxville.
"They emphasized academics more than any school I have been to," Kelly said of Duke. "They take the student segment of student-athlete very seriously."
Kelly is scheduled to visit Clemson next weekend when the Tigers host Maryland for homecoming.