It’s been no secret that Tennessee’s coaching staff was going to do everything in their power to add another running back to the 2015 class.
Oak Park, Michigan running back John Kelly – apparently unfazed by the news that offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian was leaving the program – announced on Thursday afternoon in a ceremony at his school that he had committed to the University of Tennessee. Kelly now becomes the third true running back in the Vols’ class along with Alvin Kamara and Kendall Bussey, although it appears that athlete and Knoxville native Joc Bruce will also start his Tennessee career at running back when he arrives this summer.
Kelly scored 25 touchdowns for his Oak Park High School team this season, and was the highest rated uncommitted prospect in the state of Michigan – No. 8 by Rivals.com and No. 9 by Scout.com.
When asked why he ultimately chose Tennessee, Kelly’s answer was exactly what Vol fans have come to expect of Butch Jones recruits.
“Coach (Butch) Jones is just a real cool guy,” Kelly said. “I bonded with the recruits a lot. I can see that something special is in the works at Tennessee and I want to be a part of it.”
5’10 19o pounds
Oak Park, Michigan (Oak Park)
Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Tennessee
Kelly’s commitment gives the Vols 28 in the 2015 class, which is currently ranked no lower than 5th by the major recruiting websites. Kelly, who visited Knoxville for the first time last weekend, still has visits scheduled to Minnesota and Michigan over the next two weeks, but may elect to skip those visits in lieu of his recent commitment. Kelly has visited both Michigan and Minnesota multiple times in the past, but has yet to take an official visit to either school. Both Michigan and Minnesota were thought to be the frontrunners in Kelly’s recruitment in recent months, with Michigan State also in the mix, but the late push by Tennessee’s coaching staff was enough for Kelly to pull the trigger this afternoon.
Here’s a look at some of Kelly’s highlights and an excerpt of ESPN’s scouting report on him as a player:
“STRENGTHS: Possesses a nice build of height and size for an athlete. As a runner, Is patient and quick to locate seams; Flashes good top end speed. Runs over his pads with above average power. Can wrap up and drive through as a tackler from depth. Shows natural pass catching skill set. … AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Runs a bit high, which can open up body for a direct shots. More of a north/south runner rather than pick and slide type runner. … BOTTOM LINE: Kelly could really end up on either side of the ball for the next level. His athletic ability could land up as a perimeter defender. A potential BCS level player.”