Kelly Aiming High in 2003

Yusef Kelly has added even more muscle to his already incredible physique this offseason. "I'm up to about 240 pounds now, but the thing people don't realize is that I'm just as fast as I've ever been," the redshirt junior told CUTigers.com.

Yusef Kelly has just about seen it all during his 4 seasons at Clemson University.

He witnessed first hand some of the most exciting moments in Clemson football history back in 2000 when the Tigers climbed all the way up to #3 in the national rankings.

He's also watched from the sidelines during a redshirt year in 2001 and seen some of the worst defeats of the Tommy Bowden era last year against N.C. State and Texas Tech.

Nevertheless, he's ready to step onto the field in 2003 and show the world what he's capable of.

"No doubt we are all ready to go," Kelly said in a recent interview. "I've put on some weight this offseason, but I'm planning on getting back down to around 230 or so. That's my ideal weight."

Yusef led the Tigers with 521 rushing yards and a team-high 8 touchdowns in 2002, but this year he'll be facing some stiff competition from Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman.

"Everybody knows that I'm the power guy and those other guys bring some different things to the table," Kelly added.

"But at the same time, I've still got the speed, and a lot of people don't realize that. Even right at 240 now I can run with anybody. Ideally though, I want to be down to 230 when the season starts."

Most people don't realize that Kelly suffered through a variety of minor injuries last season in his backup role to Bernard Rambert. According to several coaches, those injuries really prevented the Walterboro native from having a breakout season.

"The thing that Yusef brings is a strong, physical, downhill type of running ability," said assistant coach Mike O'Cain.

"Early in the season when he was healthy, he showed it and then in the last game of the season against South Carolina he showed tremendous ability. He brings a power back to our offense that really we probably haven't had consistently over the last few years."

Kelly gets his first chance to show the rest of the world just exactly what he'll bring to the table in 2003 in a just few more weeks.

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