The Lafayette (La.) Teurlings Catholic three-star quarterback and Arkansas commit must adjust to a new starting running back, wide receiver and tight end, after the Rebels’ top players as those positions graduated.
“It’s a progression,” said Charpentier, Kelley’s coach at Teurlings. “There are some growing pains. You’re only as good as the people around you, but (Kelley) has the opportunity to make the people around him better.”
The first chance Kelley had to work with his new supporting cast was at 7-on-7 over the summer, in which Charpentier said he looked good.
Now, as fall camp chugs along, the passing game is starting to come together.
“You can see improvement already, just from the amount of reps that have taken place,” Charpentier said. “We’re expecting those guys to be able to step up and make plays. Cole will know what to do with them.”
Charpentier’s confidence comes from years of watching Kelley develop into the Division I quarterback he is today.
“He’s got a great understanding of (the game) and his football IQ is good,” Charpentier said. “He trusts his eyes and goes with it. He’s a pro-style type quarterback, but I think people underestimate his athleticism.”
Last season, Kelley passed for 3,001 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Of course, sometimes his athleticism and abilities are overshadowed by his sheer size.
“I think the first thing that sticks out is his size,” Charpentier said. “At 6-foot-7, he’s a big kid, but I think he’d be just as good if he was 6-2, 6-3.”
When Kelley first got to Teurlings the summer before his freshman year, he was about 6-foot-2, but Charpentier said he could tell he would be a big kid because of the way his body was built.
“He just kept growing,” Charpentier said. “He’s probably just stopped growing in the last year, as far as height-wise, so he’s still trying to catch up with his body.”
Even before the growth spurt, Charpentier said he had a feeling Kelley would be special.
“When you saw him throw the ball, it was pretty effortless,” Charpentier said. “He had a great release and obviously knows where to go with the ball most of the time.
“He’s a competitor. He loves to play the game and I think you could see that early on. Those kind of attributes, at the quarterback position especially, are invaluable.”
That said, Charpentier said he knows there are areas he could improve, considering the fact that he’s only 17 years old.
Kelley works hard in the weight room, but needs to continue gaining muscle. Speed is another area Charpentier would like to see Kelley improve.
“A lot of people talk about his footwork, but his footwork is good, because the ball wouldn’t come out like it does if it wasn’t,” Charpentier said. “Foot speed is something he could improve on obviously, and I think that will come as he gets a little bit older.”
The Rebels went 9-2 last season and lost to Archbishop Rummel, led by Arkansas defensive line commit Briston Guidry, in the second round of the Division I playoffs.
With Kelley returning, Teurlings is receiving a lot of preseason recognition, including a No. 8 ranking in the state by The Times-Picayune.
Charpentier isn’t buying into the hype, though.
“It remains to be seen how it’s going to turn out, but our schedule is tough,” Charpentier said. “We may be better and not win as many ballgames. Our goal is to get to Week 11 and make a run at it.”
Teurlings opens the season Sept. 4 against Calvary Baptist, the two-time defending Louisiana Division III state champion. Even though it will be without star quarterback Shea Patterson, who transferred to IMG Academy, Calvary Baptist will be a tough opening opponent for the Rebels.
“I’m a little disappointed that he’s not going to be there, but it’s still going to be a hell of a ballgame,” Charpentier said. “I think they have three DI commitments in their secondary, so it’ll be a great challenge for us.”