Randy Kelly Grows Up

It's clear the Hogs have a solid player in Randy Kelly at strong safety. Secondary coach Louis Campbell likes the maturation in his senior.

Secondary coach Louis Campbell is not prone to overstate things. He isn't going to understate them, either. As senior strong safety Randy Kelly said, "He's pretty much going to tell it like it is. With him, you either got it done or you didn't. He doesn't dance around with the news." So when Campbell called Kelly's progress from the spring and fall "really something," it means something. "He's had a really good fall," Campbell said. "He's returned with some definite confidence. He knows what to do. He's been through all of this and you can tell he understands how to play the game and how to practice. He's doing everything with authority. He's playing like a veteran, solid player." Kelly said it's about "growing up." He said talks with senior linebacker Sam Olajubutu helped him in that process. "Butu had a talk with me and it was about putting things in perspective," Kelly said. "He helped me in that growing up thing. I will say that the difference in me this year from last is that I have grown up. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it. I had to grow up. It was time." Strong safety is the toughest and most critical position in the secondary because of the complex reads and checks demanded of the spot because of coordinator Reggie Herring's "fire zone" blitz package. "It is a lot tougher than free safety," Campbell said. "Basically, at free, you can look at where the strong safety goes and then go the other way and either line up in center field or the hash. You are going to be right most of the time if you watch the strong safety." Kelly talks like a confident player, but he does not sound cocky when it comes to what he thinks of the Hogs' season opener against Southern Cal. "They are good and we know it," Kelly said. "They've got good players every spot. We know what we are going to face. It's a tough challenge. "But it's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting in the stadium. It should be rocking. This is what you live for, a chance to test yourself against quality players. "We aren't scared or nervous. We might have been nervous last year. Most of us had not played in big games like that when we went out there last year. We know what to expect this time around." Does he dream about upsetting one of the nation's elite? "I do not dream about things like that," he said. "Mostly, dreams don't come true. I am going out to make it happen. Dreaming about it doesn't help you one bit. You have to come to play to make it happen, not dream about it." Kelly loves what Campbell has brought to the secondary. "It's like having a grandfather back there who knows everything," he said. "He's given us all confidence. We have much respect for him. Like I said, you either got it done or you didn't with him. You either did it right or you did it wrong. There is no in between. He's old school in that way." Did Kelly know that Campbell had coached in the NFL? Did he know about Campbell's record of three pass interceptions, an Arkansas bowl record? "He doesn't talk about his past, but we all knew he had coached at that level and been around a long time," Kelly said. "That record in a bowl game -- maybe it's time to do something about that. Maybe I can get one up on him." That's no dream, just a plan. Kelly knows first he's got to help the Hogs get to a bowl game.

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