John Kelly Listed as Player “Ready to be a Star” in 2017

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Despite averaging 6.6 yards per carry on 98 attempts last season and filling in admirably when injuries and transfers depleted the Vols’ depth, Tennessee junior running back John Kelly hasn’t received a ton of attention from the national media. One outlet, however, thinks Kelly is ready to burst into stardom for the 2017 season.

    Yardbarker compiled a list of ten college football players they believe are ready to be stars in 2017. Coming in at No. 10 was Tennessee’s own John Kelly.

    “With both Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd out of the picture,” the article states, “it’s Kelly’s chance to shine as the lead back for the Vols in 2017.”

    The article claims that “based on what Kelly has been able to accomplish in his limited opportunities as a freshman and sophomore, fans should be excited.” Kelly amassed 630 yards on just 98 carries last season, scoring five times as well. Kelly ran for just 18 yards on three carries in the Vols’ first five games of the season but ran for 89, 94, 94, 101, and 104 yards in five of the Vols’ final eight games of the 2016 season.

    Yardbarker’s piece goes on to state that Kelly is helped by the fact that the Vols “have a very solid offensive line in place now” and that “there isn’t much proven depth behind Kelly and it seems clear Butch Jones will rely on his junior back to carry the load.”

    Aside from Kelly, the Vols only have one scholarship running back on the roster as of now. Sophomore Carlin Fils-Aime is the only running back currently on the roster, but freshmen Ty Chandler, Trey Coleman, and Timothy Jordan join the roster in the fall. Fils-Aime has just 14 rushes for 58 yards and two scores in his one year of action for Tennessee.

    Kelly only started one game last season and filled in during games when Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara were injured. Once Hurd transferred, Kelly split time with Kamara and found his groove on offense. He’ll be Tennessee’s lead back in 2017 barring a setback of any kind.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.