Kelley getting a jump start on his UA career

Xavier Kelly is a promising young linebacker from Texas. The "Human Tackling Machine" committed to Arizona site unseen and then fended off a number of Big 12 schools. Kelly is now on campus getting a jump start on school and workouts and gave Cat Tracks an exclusive interview.

"I like everything so far," Xavier Kelley began. "The workouts are going pretty good."

We have all heard how tough the workouts really are, especially for a first year player. Kelley may be a tough kid, but he was not about to deny the difficulty of the strength program.

"The workouts, they are just a killer," Kelley said. "You have to wake-up early sometimes and then go back in the evening. It is tough."

Not only are the players lifting and running, but they are doing team drills as well.

"After the workouts we have the7-on-7's," Kelley noted. "I am starting to get more comfortable with everything, so that is good."

Kelley played all over the field at Denton-Ryan High School outside of Dallas. One play he'd line up at defensive end, then move to safety and finish up a series at linebacker. Kelley recorded 145 tackles (25 for losses), three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery as a senior. Ryan finished the season at 10-2.

The Cats seem to like him at linebacker and that is where the speedy Kelley will start his career, though he may have the talent to play safety and possibly even defensive end.

The Cats are deep, but young at linebacker. So much talent at one spot might scare away less confident players, but Kelley is not one to shy away from the competition.

"There's some good competition with all those other guys," Kelley said. "It's a good group of guys to learn from. I think I'll be pretty good if I learn from them.

"I feel I can come in and play," he continued. "After the workouts and everything over the summer I think when fall camp starts that I can come in and play with the guys. Redshirting would not be a problem for me, though."

Kelley comes to Arizona in the middle of June, not exactly the best time to visit the Old Pueblo. While temperatures are in the triple digits, the heat is not as bad as the humid Lone Star State.

"I love the weather," Kelley said, risking sounding like a crazy man. "In Texas you can walk outside and just start sweating. I can walk around out here all day and not even sweat that much."

Many Arizona fans are already Xavier Kelley fans because he committed to the Wildcats early on in the process and never wavered as schools like Texas and Arkansas made overtures as signing day approached. Kelly even went to Austin with a teammate but claims he was never close to changing allegiances.

"I guess I committed early and I was going to stick with them no matter what," Kelley explained. "Texas and all those other guys were places I was looking at early on but it was pretty much too late when they came after me."

Kelley was sold on the Wildcat early on because of the coaching staff and the way he just clicked with both his lead recruiter Mark Stoops and position coach Tim Kish. Of course having head coach Mike Stoops as a closer sure can't hurt.

"They are all good guys, I like them," Kelley said. "Coach Hill, the strength coach is a good guy."

Kelley is a coachable guy. He deflects a lot of praise to his high school coaches.

"It was the coaches," Kelley replied when asked about how the Texas high school football scene prepared him for college. "I have to give it all up to them. Every week they prepared me in the way I needed to be prepared for each game."

Even after a few days on campus, Kelley was well aware the there were huge differences between high school and college. Not only is he on his own and taking college courses, but the first few position meetings were a dead giveaway.

"In high school we come in and watch film for 30 minutes and go out," he said. "Here we go over film for like two hours and go over plays and everything."

Kelley has work cut out for him. There are no fewer than nine linebackers with a legitimate shot at playing time next fall. Despite the uphill odds, Kelly is doing all the right things. He is already on campus, getting a head start on his school work and is learning the system. A good start at the very least.

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