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Monday, February 18, 2013
Kelly Jr. chummy with top-flight recruits

By Dave Hooker

There is no one prospect that can make a class, theoretically at least. Todd Kelly Jr. might test that theory.

The safety from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb is about as popular as any prospect one can find in the Southeast. Thanks to social media and a personable demeanor, Kelly already knows several top prospects.

Kelly is longtime friends with twin brothers Elliot and Evan Berry from Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside. Elliot Berry is an outside linebacker. Evan Berry is an athlete prospect that could play a number of positions. Athlete Blaise Taylor from Auburn (Ala.) High is also a good friend of Kelly's.

Kelly recently became quick friends with running back Jalen Hurd from Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech. He and Kelly could be the top two prospects in Tennessee.

"I just met him this weekend but we hung out the entire day," Kelly said.

Those in the group were able to bond this weekend. All were in attendance for Tennessee's junior day on Saturday. Kelly welcomes connections, new and old.

"Wherever I sign in the future, I'm going to try my absolute best to get as many players as I can to join the class," the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Kelly said. "That's the only way to make the team better is with support and depth."

Where Kelly will recruit players is the biggest question. He recently named a group of top ten finalists: Alabama, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, USC and Vanderbilt.

Alabama and Tennessee are thought to be in good shape to land Kelly thanks to strong ties to each school. Kelly has visited Alabama frequently and his sister is a cheerleader at the school. Kelly's father, Todd Kelly, was a standout defensive end for the Volunteer in the early 1990s.

Kelly Jr. has seemed to warm to the coaching changes in Knoxville. Former coach Derek Dooley was fired after three losing seasons and replaced by former Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Kelly said the reviews from Tennessee's current players was positive this weekend, particularly from defensive back Byron Moore and multi-faceted athlete Devrin Young.

"Everyone was talking about how personable they were," Kelly said of Tennessee's coaches. "Byron Moore and Devrin Young … said that they have bought into believing that coach Jones can turn the program around."

Tennessee was also able to show off its recent, multi-million dollar renovations. There is a new weight room, new coaches' offices and new areas for players in the already impressive indoor practice facility.

"The facilities were mostly finished and they are some of the best I have seen in the country," Kelly said.

Kelly has taken recent visits to Clemson and Ohio State. He said he doesn't have any other visits currently planned.